June 27, 2022

Judge: “What can you say, the trial is over”

Nora: “I did not attack Mary the nanny, Jolomi did” she exclaimed. I turned to barrister Indimi and nodded my head. I had been pondering on the possibility that a man attacked Mary, because of the way the legs were mangled, so much that she needed rehabilitation before she could walk again.

Judge: “Who is Jolomi?”

Nora: “Let me tell you a quick story, and perhaps you all, even you Adeleke , will understand why I did all these. I did it for love”

Nora’s Story

I met Jolomi while working as the executive secretary to the late Bamidele, my late husband. Jolomi was a low-level staff, he was not earning much. In fact, I was earning more than he was. We started seeing each other and I fell in love with him. But soon he changed, he was always complaining of having no money, while I had money. I was not complaining and I tried not to make him uncomfortable. He was living in a fucking boys’ quarter when I met him, I rented a one bedroom flat for him, so that he would not be complaining so much about my one-bedroom apartment. But Jolomi was never satisfied, he began to tell me of his parents, how they were abysmally poor and how he tried to escape poverty by getting an education, but how the situation in the country was fucking him up.

I wanted to help, but the kind of money Jolomi needed, I didn’t have. One day I was going through some files I was working on for Bamidele. I stumbled on an anomaly, when I talked about it with Jolomi, in a light manner, talking about how Nigerians could not do without corruption; Jolomi took it upon himself to investigate. It happened that the fraud went back many years. Jolomi put together a file, and asked me to blackmail Bamidele with it.

But Jolomi was not satisfied, he always said, “Why fetch water in a cup, when we can have the whole damn well”. We extorted a huge amount of cash from Bamidele, but Jolomi always wanted more. He told me I should blackmail Bamidele into marrying me, he said when we get what we wanted, I would divorce Bamidele, and he would marry me. I killed Folake because Jolomi asked me to, then when I complained about Mary, he took care of it.

I did it all for him, but the moment I made him President, he got married to a woman I am sure he was dating even while we were together. Why should I carry this punishment alone when it is obvious, I only danced the piper’s tune?

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Judge: “Your story changes nothing. The sentence stands, but of course Jolomi will be arrested and made to face the appropriate jail term. This is a lesson to ladies, love cannot be bought with money, if it is not there, it is not. And anything that would make you stain your hands with blood, is definitely not love” he hit the gavel with finality and left the courtroom. The media people went into a frenzy as they clicked their cameras a zillion times to capture all the emotions playing across Nora’s face. I shook my head, instead of anger, I felt pity for her.

The date of the hanging was scheduled to take place in a fortnight (two weeks). During this time, I was filled with mixed feelings. Finally, my mother was getting justice, but did Nora deserve to die. I had forgiven her according to the commandment of God, even though it took me a while to get to that point where I could forgive her for everything she made me go through. Banke was always there to give me support, she became like a second soul to me, I began to believe Genesis, and the story of God’s creation. Banke was really made from my rib, she knew me like the back of her palms, she knew what I was thinking even though I was not saying it out loud.

One day, we were at home, a few days to Nora’s hanging, we were watching the news, it was mid-day. The EFCC had pardoned my father Bamidele Aboderine for the fraud he committed, on the orders of the President. According to the News anchor, the president was impressed by my honesty, and since my father was no longer alive to answer for his crimes, there was no need seizing the properties. The president also believed that under me, the companies would be free of fraudulent practices.

Leke: “Oh my God” I exclaimed, I could not believe my ears. Almost immediately, my phone rang, it was barrister Indimi calling.

Leke: “Barrister, are you seeing the news on MBC?” I asked, my voice was filled with joy and laughter.

Barrister Indimi: “Yes son, which is why I am calling. I don’t know that your God, but I want to know him. Do you believe this is the first time; the EFCC is returning properties seized where there is proof of fraud? This is nothing short of a miracle” he said, if I could see his face, I knew he would be looking puzzled.

Leke: “It is the Lord’s doing, I left it in the hands of God and he fought for me”

Barrister Indimi: “Not wanting to be a kill joy, but I need to tell you the reality of things. Expect the company to experience hardship because many investors will leave, they will sell their stock at very low prices, devaluing the company’s stock in the market. You should be ready”

Leke: “Why should I be troubled, God who started this, will finish it” I replied, I promised to call at his office the next day. I went back into the sitting room because I had gone into the dining area to receive the call.

Banke: “We need to celebrate, so many good news. Jolomi has been arrested, you know he ran away, his wife has been in police custody ever since. She finally gave up his location, and the police have apprehended him, he is looking at nothing less than fourteen years” she said pointing to the television.

Leke: “God be praised, things are falling into pleasant places” I said and hugged her. She went to the refrigerator and brought out a cold bottle of red wine.

Banke: “This calls for celebration”.

On the day that Nora would be hanged, I dressed up in black, Banke refused to go, she could not stand the sight. I would have been absent but the government insisted I had to witness that justice was served to the case. She was brought to the gallows dressed in a black dress. Her hair was combed and in an up swept bun, she had her face made up, she was beautiful, except for a few wrinkles. The priest stood before her and prayed for her soul, and then he asked her to make restitution. Faced with imminent death, Nora began to weep.

Nora: “I am sorry for all I did. Adeleke, if you could ever try, please forgive me for what I did to you and your family. I am so sorry. If I was given another chance at life, I would do things differently” she cried.

Leke: “I forgive you” I shouted from a few feet away where I sat with the prison officials and Barrister Indimi. I had forgiven her a long time ago, and I thought hanging her was a waste of life. Right there and then, I made a decision, I was going to read Law, and become a lawyer, for the sole purpose of abolishing the death penalty, and saving as much convicts as I could, from death.

After the priest was done, Nora was led to a raised platform, and a noose was tied around her, at the count of three, the platform was pushed from under her feet, and in a few seconds, Nora was dead. I couldn’t help it, I burst into tears. Hanging there, she was limp and lifeless; all the power she wielded meant nothing at this moment. A portion of the bible filtered into my mind;

“For the wages of sin, is death”

After a week, the media was getting tired of the story of Nora’s hanging, it had run its course, people were more concerned with those who were living, than those who were dead. But, all barristers Indimi told me, was coming to pass. After the EFCC gave me back Balon Oil, investors began to withdraw, many sold their stock at pitiable prices, I tried buying back as much as I could, but the mass sale devalued our stock price in the stock market. I had gotten back the company, but it was failing.

I met grandfather, and discussed the issue with him, the frail old man told me to organize a remembrance for my parents, and he would make sure the elite of the country were present and then I could make a sale pitch.

Banke: “Leave the planning to me, I got you” she said when I told her, what the Oba, my grandfather had said. And she outdid herself.

On the day of the remembrance, the elite of the country, from the length and breadth of the country gathered to remember my parents. The Oba was present, carried on a dais which was borne by four pallbearers. During the event, when it was time for me to give a speech, I stood up and took the podium.

Leke: “Ladies and gentlemen, I thank you for being with me today to remember my parents who died through unfavorable circumstances. But the bible said, in all things we should give thanks, and I thank God because He knows why he allowed the things that happened. My parents are gone, but I am here to fill the big shoes that they left behind. I know some of you say in your hearts, what can this little boy do? What I can do is transform the money you give to me to riches. If you follow my story for the past months, you will see that I am a fighter, not a quitter. My parents left a legacy, and I want to continue the legacy, wouldn’t you rather put your money where there is a purpose? Balon oil is more than a company to me; it is a part of my parents that I can hold on too, so you know I will never give up on it. Put your money where there is purpose and integrity. Give me your money and I will make you richer than you are now” i said peering into their eyes. I was begging, but i was doing it elegantly.

Suffice it to say, after the remembrance, investors better than the ones we had before flocked to the company, I knew they also were prodded by my maternal grandfather. And like a phoenix, the company rose from its ashes.

THREE YEARS LATER

The company flourished beyond my expectations, barrister Indimi was by my side all through, taking care of all my legal needs. In three years, we had grown into a conglomerate, I was super rich, richer than my parents had been. I was happy and my investors were happy, because they received great turnover on their investments. Life was sweet.

I opened a fashion training institute, as a subsidiary of Fola Fashion House, where the less privileged could come in and acquire fashion skills for entrepreneurship, at the paltry sum of two thousand naira, it was my way of giving back to the society. I also made Mary the administrator of the institute, if she could manage an unruly child like me, she could damn well manage a fashion institute.

On this day, the 14thof February, life was sweeter. I was getting engaged to the love of my life, and the woman who stood by me through it all. I was twenty now, and though Banke was a few years older than me, it didn’t matter, who was counting? She looked very beautiful in her champagne gold sequined gown. I personally designed the gown for her, I knew her very well, even the contours of her body, therefore, the gown was a perfect fit because it was designed with so much love.

Leke: “You are so beautiful, ife mi” I told her as we stood on the starboard of the cruise boat we had rented for the occasion. The noise of the music and our guest was behind us as we peered into the calm waters.

Banke: “Your love makes me so beautiful” she replied.

Prisca: “Here are the lovebirds” she said coming to join us, with her boyfriend Lucas, a white man she met in South Africa on a vacation. I had apologized to Prisca for leading her on even when I was still seeing Banke. She forgave me, and my apology helped her move on from the impossible love she felt for me.

Lucas: “They are the most beautiful couple I ever seen” he said smiling. Banke rushed to embrace Prisca, seeing her she was convinced that everything was alright between them. She always worried that Prisca was still carrying hurt feelings.

Leke: “We should toast”

Prisca: “Yes we should, but not here. Come in, your friends and loved ones are waiting for you” she said and pulled Banke inside the boat. I saw the faces of people who had stood by me through the struggle, people like Mary, even Iya Biliki.

Iya Biliki: “Ha, small boy turns a biggie man” she sang and danced in a funny way.

Prisca: “Let’s toast to the couple of the year. May their love be ever sweet” she said and everyone raised their glasses. I looked upwards at the night sky bedazzled with stars like diamonds, and felt that my mother was watching from heaven, and she was smiling at her beloved son, Leke Bobo. The End.

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Names have been changed to protect the identity of the narrator and other individuals in the story.

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