Original post: May 20, 2010.
The sun was already high in the sky when Sule stepped out of the main house in the Olajide’s compound, some friends and sympathizers were gathered outside by then. He paused to admire the different models of flashy cars parked outside the gate, then shrugged, got into his rugged-looking Elantra and zoomed off.
Ten minutes later, he found a food canteen by the road side. It was a couple of minutes after eleven so he decided to have an early lunch since he was forced to skip breakfast. He could hear his stomach groaning away in agony, it wasn’t a pleasant sound. The food was surprisingly good despite the cheap looking environmental, but then, which food wouldn’t taste decent in the mouth of a hungry man. He felt a bit heavy to get up after putting away the meal in record time, so he pushed his chair backwards away from the eating area and assumed a more relaxing position.
He lit a cigarette and his cranium content started working.
Alhaji was found dead by second wife at 6:45 AM. She screamed bringing the other wife into the room, also waking up the other folks in the house. They claimed they did not touch anything after dialing 909. Apart from the dead Alhaji and his wives, five other people slept in the house that night: two daughters (23 and 17 years old – from the first wife), a son (6 years old) and a daughter (17 years old) from the second wife, and Itoro the pregnant housemaid.
The guards have their own small quarters by the gate…about the guards, even though they were barely able to stay awake before he left the residence, he still had a chat with both of them; the older one, Babatunde; a retired junior military officer from Alhaji Dauda’s village, he claimed the last thing he remembered was having lunch around 9 PM the previous night. The other guard, Wasiu; was much younger and surprisingly refined in his speech as he was in appearance, he has a Higher Diploma Degree, worked with a high tech security company for a couple of years before resigning to take up the higher paying security job at the Olajide’s residence. He could remember Itoro bringing them food at around 8:45 PM and he also claimed the last thing he knew was falling asleep after dinner.
From the story as told by the two security guards, all suspicious fingers point to Itoro but it doesn’t add up, she couldn’t have been stupid enough to drug their food when she would be the obvious suspect the next day. She shouldn’t be that stupid. This looks more like an attempt to set her up. By someone who knew she was pregnant for Alhaji? Second wife? Hmmmm. In fact anyone in the house could have drugged the food before she took it to the guards.
At this point in deep thoughts, Sule was pulling harder at his mustache.
Yeah, there has to be an insider involved. There was no sign of a break-in; the obvious suspects are the wives and Itoro. But why were the guards drugged if it was an inside job? Maybe someone was allowed into the compound after the guards passed out? Someone with the will to pull the trigger on the Alhaji.
The questions are: Who drugged the guards? Why were they drugged? Was an outsider involved in the killing? And the most important: WHY? There has to be a motive somewhere…he only has to look close enough to spot it or them as the case may be. Talking about motives…
Sule was jolted out of his thoughts when he remembered he was supposed to call Alhaji’s lawyer after noon. He was told the lawyer; the sole overseer of Alhaji’s legal matters – which includes the will – was out of the country until the next day. He tried calling before he left the Olajide’s residence but got a voice message that that advised him to call back after noon (local time) because of the time difference.
He dialed the international number.
‘Hello. Is this Barrister Lagbaja?’
‘Yes. Who is speaking?’
Sule went straight to the point. He couldn’t remember the last time he recharged his call credits. ‘This is Inspector Sule; I’m the investigator in charge of Alhaji Sule’s murder. I have a question or two concerning his will. Are you in a position to answer me?’
‘Hi Sule, I have been waiting for your call.’ Though the line was crackling, Sule could almost feel the sadness in the other man’s voice. ‘I already spoke with your boss, the DPO, and yes, I will answer any question that could help solve this case. Any question within my legal limits as regards the will.’
‘When was his last will drafted?’
‘That is almost exactly a year ago. He does it every year, in fact he called me up three days ago he would like to make some changes immediately I get back to the country.’
‘When is that supposed to be?’
Sule paused briefly, and then asked.
‘Is anyone else aware of the fact that Alhaji will be updating his will tomorrow?’
‘Not that I know of, but either of the wives could know. Dauda is not so discreet concerning his affairs with them.’
‘Do you have any idea of what changes he was planning to make?’
‘That, I cannot tell.’ Lagbaja sighed.
‘It’s ok, you have been helpful. Thank you.’
‘I hope you get the person responsible for this. The mothe….’
Click. The line went dead. Sule checked his remaining call credit: N0.60. He shook his head and smiled, he already got what he wanted from the Barrister anyway. Some loose pieces of the puzzle were beginning to fit his theory.
He got up, settled his bill at the canteen and strolled towards his car. He brought out his phone and started scrolling through the pictures he took of the corpse earlier on. Something looked out of place in the room snapshots so he zoomed in. By the time he got to his car, his heart was beating faster with excitement. How did he miss that initially? All he needed now was the final piece to fall into place.
He started the engine and stepped on the gas pedal like a thousand demons were after him.
Six minutes later, he was parked outside the gate of the Olajide’s residence. The compound was already filled. He felt like sprinting over to the main house but he kept his calm and walked on, chewing on the leftover kola nut he discovered in his pocket.
What if the final piece doesn’t fit?
It is worth the gamble; he told himself as he stepped into the outer living room. It was almost packed full with people shedding tears; the genuine and the crocodile ones. At least he was sure of a disguised crocodile, so to speak. He found constable Adeniran and instructed him to gather everybody that was in the house overnight and then bring them up to Alhaji’s room. The corpse had already been moved.
The wives and children were then ushered upstairs. Some seconds later, Sule joined them.
He cleared his throat loudly to get their attention.
‘I am relieved to announce that the search for Alhaji’s killer is over.’ He paused for effect. ‘And I am sure you will all be relieved to know that the killer is not in this room with us now.’
To be concluded…