Original post: May 21, 2010.
If there was one thing Inspector Sule was famous for in the LGPD – apart for his exceptional deducing ability – it was the uncanny gift of reading people like an open book. Countless number of cases has been solved by him in the past just by asking the right questions and provoking the appropriate emotions in the individuals involved. He doesn’t hesitate to play this card anytime he has the opportunity, more often than not; it involves feeding suspects with half-truths to throw them off balance, revealing tell-tale signs that would eventually close the investigation.
That was why Inspector Sule had his eagle-like eyes set on everybody in the room when the words left his mouth:
‘I am relieved to announce that the search for Alhaji’s killer is over. And I am sure you will all be relieved to know that the killer is not in this room with us now.’
The general reaction of relief was expected, but the odd one he was looking out for came from the person Sule least expected it from. It was a flicker of dismay and horror but it passed in milliseconds, Sule would have missed it if he wasn’t looking out for it. He immediately jettisoned his former theory as the new one formed and all the pieces of the puzzle fell into place. This closure was not what he had in mind but nevertheless the gambit paid off.
He cleared his throat again.
‘Like I said, Alhaji’s killer is not with us right now but his accomplice is.’
There were startled gasps, she even managed to act stunned but Sule wasn’t fooled. He continued.
‘Before I bring in the murderer and identify the accomplice in this room, let me just try to paint a picture of what I think happened last night. The murderer was let in by the accomplice after everyone had gone to bed, I presume this must be sometime between 2AM and 4AM, he came into Alhaji’s room wearing a mask and obviously carrying a silenced gun. He dragged Alhaji to the safe right here and tried to get him to open it. I’ll assume he had no intention of hurting Alhaji but when they got to the safe, Alhaji tried to wrestle with him and probably pulled his mask. The assailant was left with no choice when his identity was discovered, he knocked Alhaji over, pulled him over to his bed and shot him in cold blood.’
Further gasps of horror escaped from every other person in the room as Sule related his deductions.
‘At first I thought it was just a clear case of murder but when I realized there was a struggle by the safe I knew straight away it was a robbery attempt turned sour.’ Sule paused and walked over to the safe. ‘How do I know there was a struggle by the safe, you might ask. Looking around the room, it is obvious Alhaji Dauda is a meticulous man and painstakingly detailed. All the books on the shelf beside the safe seem to be arranged in alphabetical order except these two right here.’
He picked up two books out of the shelf and waved them at his dumbfounded audience.
‘Here is a copy of Things Fall Apart and Think and Grow Rich; obviously Things Fall Apart comes before Think and Grow Rich in the order Alhaji has arranged his shelf but the murderer in his haste and shock overlooked this very minute detail. That, my friends, is the only thing out of place in this room. Every other thing is precisely intact. So the questions are: Who is the assailant? Who is the accomplice? What were they after in the safe?’
At this point, Sule whispered something to constable Adeniran who looked a bit surprised and then promptly departed from the room. Sule continued.
‘I initially thought the attempted robbery was a ploy to divert the murderous intent, but then the killer and his accomplice wouldn’t have gone through the pain to put everything back into place to cover the robbery attempt.’ Sule turned and faced the second wife. ‘You knew Itoro was pregnant for Alhaji, you also knew Alhaji was going to make the change in his will in a short while. How you got to know this is a question Barrister Lagbaja could answer, I won’t go ahead to speculate how since it is of no direct consequence to the resolution of this case. It would have been easy for you to drug the guards’ food before Itoro took it to them, easy for you to bring in the killer in the night and have him take a look at a copy of Alhaji’s will in the safe to confirm your inheritance before putting a bullet in his head. It would have been so easy. The killer could easily have been your lover but Lagbaja is out of the country.’
Sule was face to face with the second wife now, he was half expecting a slap but none came. The woman’s lips trembled slightly, her face contorted in hatred, shock and guilt.
Not a murderer’s guilt. Sule thought. So she has been sleeping with the barrister after all.
He smiled and moved on.
‘No, you are not involved in the death of your husband although it is pretty convenient for you.’
The constable entered with Wasiu; younger security guard.
‘Aha!’ Sule exclaimed. ‘Permit me to introduce you to Alhaji Dauda Olajide’s killer.’
The older wife started weeping uncontrollably, so did the little son of the second wife. The other daughters looked genuinely stunned at the revelation, the second wife scowled.
‘This young man received the food brought by Itoro, drugged it before giving the other guard who was not around when the food was brought in. He waited till everyone was asleep and he was let in by…’ Sule spun around and pointed to the first daughter of the older wife. ‘…this young lady!’
‘Yes you!’ Sule walked towards her, she had tears flowing freely down her face. ‘Why did you do it? You are pregnant too? For him?’ He pointed to Wasiu.
She broke down completely and started weeping.
‘We just needed some money to abort the pregnancy at this…this hospital. It was supposed to be easy; daddy wasn’t supposed to get hurt.’
The mother fainted.
Everything happened fast after that, everyone was briefly distracted when the older woman went down; Wasiu knocked the constable holding him sharply across the face with the back of his head, pulling the constable’s gun from the holster with the same movement. The constable fell backwards slowly but was able to lash out a kick as he hit the floor. Wasiu was destabilized for a couple of seconds; this gave Sule just enough time to draw his weapon, aim and fire at him. The shot caught Wasiu on the shoulder. He went down screaming.
The sound of the shot fired brought the other men of the LGPD running upstairs. They secured and took away Wasiu and the weeping daughter. An ambulance was called for the mother who fainted. The other children were taken downstairs; they were all in shock, looking like zombies as they were led off. Sule couldn’t help but feel sorry for them.
He looked around Alhaji Dauda’s room, sighed, then went over and sat down on the edge of the bed. He brought out his packet of cigarette but then paused when remembered what the first wife said when he attempted to smoke in the room earlier.
‘What the heck, I deserve this.’ Sule lit a cigarette and took a deep pull.