THE HAUNTED ASSEMBLY 2

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Immediately Adam got home he knew he was in trouble. The doors were unlocked. Ese never left the door open when she was going to sleep. He opened the door and entered. The door made a slight click when he closed it. He looked at the huge clock chiming away on the wall, it was almost one am. It was bad enough that he got home late when he had promised not to but having to tell Ese that he was on the case was worse. He flicked a switch and light flooded the living room. On one of the sofas was Ese, she was asleep. Not even the light woke her. He felt so guilty, she had actually tried to wait up for him.

He walked to her and knelt by the sofa. He brushed some straying strands of hair from her face, she looked so peaceful in her sleep. He placed his hands on her protruded stomach and smiled. He was going to be a father soon and he wanted to be there for his wife and baby but his child would live in a better and safer world if he could catch whoever killed the senator.

“Adam,” He had not noticed her eyes open. “You said you would not stay too long.”

“I’m sorry Ese. I had to take care of things before help came.” Adam said, helping her up from the sofa.

“This is the last we’ll hear of the investigation, right?” Ese asked.

Adam did not reply.

“Adam?”

“The IG called and…”

“You took the case?”

“I wasn’t exactly given a choice.”

She placed a palm on her belly. “Our baby is due in less than a month.”

Adam moved close to her and held her. “The case won’t affect that.”

She walked out of his embrace and headed for the room.

“I’m going to sleep, make yourself comfortable on the couch.”

Adam made to go after her but stopped. She would be calm by morning. He kicked off his shoes, dropped on a couch and brought out his phone. Who exactly was Senator Halima? He had a lot of reading to do before morning.

***

Adam arrived at the office before 8 am the next day. Ese still was not talking to him but he knew she would come around, he had other things to worry about. The story of the murder was all over the news already, it was only a matter of time before the press knew he was handling the case. Just as he expected there was no one in the office. He himself had never arrived earlier than 10 am so it was no surprise his staff had taken to arriving late.

He entered his office and shut the door. He was not sure where to start from. It was times like this he wished he had Tola in Abuja with him. If what he read about Senator Halima online was anything to go by, finding her killer would not be easy. He removed a file from his desk. How he wished Tola was here.

A knock sounded on his door. He looked up, was his wish about to come true?

“Come in.” He said.

The door opened and Kate stepped in.

“I knew you’d be here.” She said.

“Oh, it’s you.”

“You sound disappointed. Have I dropped so low on the list of people you want to see in the morning?”

“Sorry Kate, I was just hoping it would be… So, what are you doing here so early?”

“I’m not here early enough. The PA is supposed to resume before the boss.”

“PA? Kate?” Adam smiled and shook his head.

“You thought I was joking last night? I mean it, I want to be your assistant.”

“You can’t be my assistant. Why do you think you can help me catch a killer Kate?”

“I have been kidnapped by a serial killer who killed several others and I escaped. How many of your people can say  that?”

Adam laughed. “First, you did not escape, you were rescued. Secondly, being kidnapped makes you the victim, not a detective. By the way, don’t you have a job?”

“I’m on leave. And that job is just a monotonous thing, I need some excitement.”

“Chasing a killer is not exactly excitement.”

“Uncle Adam, please leave this argument. I know Abuja and the people here and I can help.”

She had a point. He already had a lot of questions, maybe she could help answer some.

“Alright Kate.”

“Thank you.” She said, and brought out a notepad. “Where do we start?”

“The crazy guy from last night, you said he was the victim’s fiance?”

“Yes, Hameed Galadima.”

“Is he the son of…?”

“Exactly. Only the sons of the rich marry the daughters of the rich here.”

“If she was engaged to a Galadima, how come she is all over gossip blogs?”

“Well, she is a known rebel. Her parents arranged to marry her off once, she left the groom on the wedding day and traveled out of the country.”

“Refusing to get married is one thing, prostituting yourself to half of Abuja, as one blog put it is another thing.”

Kate laughed. “That’s harsh. She has dated a few bigwigs, some of them as old as her father but it doesn’t make her a prostitute.”

“A few? How exactly few is ‘a few’?” Adam asked.

“Well, I don’t have a number but she’s been around a few of guys.”

“So this fiancé and his family, they don’t mind that she cheats?”

“That would make him our primary suspect, right?”

“Suspect? Yes. Primary suspect? It’s a little too early. But it’s a good place to start.”

Adam looked at his watch, it was a few minutes to nine. None of his staff had arrived.

“Let’s go talk to the fiancé.”

Kate picked her notepad and bag and headed for the door.

“I think I will fire my whole staff.” Adam said and followed her.

They were about leaving the building when a lady met them. She greeted Adam and walked past them. Adam paused and looked at the lady.

“Hey you.” He called out.

The lady stopped and hurried back.

“Do you work for me? Do you work at the CIB?” Adam asked.

“Yes sir, I do.”

“What time are you supposed to resume?  No, don’t answer that. Go to your office and type a termination notice for yourself and every other person who works in that office.”

Adam looked at her eyes widen in surprise.

“Sir please.”

“You know what, that’s too harsh. Type a query letter for everyone and I want their replies on my desk before I come back. Anyone who is not in by the time I’m back should not bother to come in ever again.”

Adam walked off with the lady staring after him.

Kate looked at Adam and smiled. “That was something.”

“Are you sure you still want to work for me?”

***

Adam was used to seeing big Abuja houses on his daily routes now but he rarely saw the inside of one. The Galadimas’ house looked impressive from the outside but stepping inside the house blew his mind. He thought Senator Adeshina’s house was awesome, but even that house looked like a cottage compared to this one. He looked at Kate, she wasn’t as taken by the house.

“Don’t you think this place is amazing?” Adam asked.

“Oh, it is. I’m just more pre-occupied by what we are about to do.”

“We – no, I am here to question a suspect, all you have to do is listen and write.”

“A suspect?” She lowered her voice. “You want to accuse the son of General Galadima of murder in his own house?”

Adam looked at her for a few seconds, why was she bothered about that? He heard approaching footsteps and he looked up. The general walked into the room, Adam and Kate sprung to their feet. The general was accompanied by another old man. He could swear the other man was a general too.

“Welcome detective.” General Galadima said, stretching his hands to shake him.

“Good morning General.” Adam shook the hand. And quickly added. “I’m sorry for your loss.”

The other man shook Adam and they both sat, completely ignoring Kate. Adam sat and Kate joined him.

“This is my assistant, Kate Adeshina.”

They both grunted. If the name Adeshina meant anything to them they did not show it.

“I understand you’re the one working this case?” It was the other man who spoke first.

“Yes sir, I am.”

“Good. Forget about the IG or whoever your boss is. If you need anything to help you catch the person who killed my daughter, you must come to us.”

“Your daughter?” Adam said before he could catch himself.

“You don’t know him?” General Galadima asked. He obviously could not believe there was anybody in Abuja who did not know his almighty friend.

“I’m sorry, I just did not recognize him.” Adam wished he had studied the victim’s family more.

“As I was saying, if there’s anything you need, come to us. You must understand that we want this wrapped up on time.” General Abubakar continued.

“Yes sir.” Adam said.

“Thank you. We will be talking to you later.” General Galadima said and they both stood.

He had not even seen the person he came to see and they were dismissing him?

“Sir, how is Hameed? I will like to talk to him.” Adam said.

“You don’t have to, we will pass your condolences to him.” General Galadima said and turned away.

“Sir, I have some questions for him.” Adam said.

“Questions?”

“Yes sir. We are just trying to cover our bases here and Hameed was her fiancé so…”

“Wait a minute detective, are you accusing my son of…?” The general looked at him like he had just invoked Satan in a mosque.

“Well sir…”

Kate elbowed Adam and cut him off. “No sir, Hameed is definitely not a suspect, we just believe he will know people who might have wanted to harm Senator Halima.”

The generals looked at Kate and back at Adam.

“Hameed will be at your office to talk to you.” General Galadima said. “I hope you have some information before the end of the day.”

“After the autopsy today we will have a cause of death sir.” Adam said.

“Autopsy?” General Abubakar asked. “There will be no autopsy. My daughter has been buried already.”

Adam opened his mouth and for a few seconds considered letting out some anger at the general. How did they bury the body without him knowing?

“Sir, without knowing the cause of death we won’t have the best chance of finding her killer.”

“Well, you have to find your cause of death another way. Nobody will desecrate my daughter’s body any further.”

The men walked into the house with Adam looking after them, mouth agape.

“What just happened?” Adam looked at Kate.

She picked her bag and stood from the chair. “You just got owned Detective. Welcome to Abuja.”

***

Adam looked at the pile of responses on his table, packed them and dumped them in the garbage bin. He was not about to spend any time reading a bunch of insincere apologies from his lazy staff. He had bigger things to worry about. He could not find out what killed the victim or talk to his first suspect because a general decided that was the way he wanted it. If Hameed did not come in by the end of the day, he would damn the consequences and have him arrested.

A knock on the door interrupted his thoughts.

“Come in.”

Kate pushed the door open and entered.

“One of the detectives is back.” She said.

“Send him in.”

He had sent his detectives out to find everyone who had ever dated Senator Halima. Anyone who did not have a solid alibi was to be booked as a suspect and investigated. He was surprised that any of them was back so early. Especially as he had given them an earful on discipline and hard work.

The door opened and the detective entered. Adam had been surprised to find out the man was a detective. He looked like he could not slap a mosquito much less shoot a gun.

“Detective Bawa.”

“Good afternoon sir.” The detective said and saluted.

“You’re back so soon.”

“Yes sir. I was supposed to investigate Adeolu Bankole. He dated her when he was a footballer playing here in the Nigerian league, about eight years ago. He has since signed for a Dutch club and he was on the field in Holland when the murder happened.”

“Easy day for you then, huh?”

“Yes sir.”

“What do you want then? Please don’t tell me you want to go home now. You all came late for crying out loud.”

“No sir, that’s not why I’m here.”

“So what is it Detective?”

“Sir, some years ago before I became a cop, I used to live with my grandmother in Bida.”

Where was he going with this? “Go on please.”

There was a knock on the door. The door opened and Kate entered.

“Hameed Galadima is here.”

“Tell him to wait, I’m in a meeting.” Adam said.

“I can come back sir.” Detective Bawa said.

“Weren’t you telling me an important story about your childhood?”

“No sir… I mean, yes sir. It’s not really about my childhood… I mean, I was a child but… I will come back sir.”

The detective stood and scurried away. Adam shook his head, he was a queer one.

“Send him in Kate.” Adam said.

Kate left the room. Adam was not sure how to proceed with the questioning. Should he come out and accuse him of murder straight forward? Diplomacy was not his strong suit. Tola covered that side of the partnership.

The door opened and two men walked in followed by the scent of one of the strongest perfume ever made. Kate followed them in. He recognised Hameed but he did not know who the other man was. He was not sure which of the men was the bee magnet.

“This is Hameed Abubakar and his friend or lawyer, I suppose.” Kate said.

“I’m his Uncle. My name is Hassan Mohammed, honourable member of the House of Representatives.”

“He’s my friend.” Hameed said.

“Yeah, his uncle and his friend. And part-time lawyer. I’m here as a friend though.”

“Please sit.” Adam said.

“I will be outside if you need anything.” Kate said and opened the door.

“No Kate, I want you to stay.” Adam dragged a chair and placed it beside him. “Come and sit here.”

He knew it was not a mistake or a coincidence that the friend or uncle had mentioned he was a lawyer. He knew he had to tread carefully, he needed Kate for that.

“Mr Hameed, I’m terribly sorry for your loss. I know you must feel terrible right now.” Adam said.

“You don’t know how I feel.” Hameed said. “Have you ever lost the love of your life?”

“I’m sorry but no.” Adam said.

“Then you don’t know how I feel. Hassan here lost his fiance too, but not even he can know how I feel.”

“I’m sorry for your loss.” Adam said to Hassan.

“It was a long time ago. And I understand what Hameed is saying, my fiance had an accident, his was murdered.”

“I lost my mother to a murderer once,” Kate talked for the first time. “It will get better with time, I know that from experience.”

“Thank you.” Hameed said. “Kate, right?”

“Yeah.” Kate said and smiled.

“Okay, it’s protocol that I ask this question. Where were you at the time of the murder Mr Hameed?” Adam asked.

Adam watched Hameed’s eyes dart around for a while.

“Can you remember Hameed?”

“I was with some friends at a club.”

“Okay.” Adam said. He already knew finding an alibi won’t be too difficult for him. “Do you know if your fiancée was seeing someone else?”

Hameed jumped from his seat and kicked the garbage can, paper flying in all directions.

“Halima loved me! She did not cheat on me!” Hameed shouted.

“Calm down please, Mr Hameed.” Adam said.

“Hameed, sit down.” Honourable Hassan said. “They’re only trying to help here.”

Hameed sat and crossed his arms.

“I will still like an answer to my question please.” Adam said, holding Hameed’s stare.

“I won’t answer that question.”

“I’m sorry but if she was having an affair, whoever she was having it with will be our number one suspect right now. Apart from you, I mean.”

“Look detective,” Hassan said. “This is difficult for Hameed. There have been rumours of Halima seeing other people but she loved Hameed and those rumours were never proven.”

“There are pictures online, or what sort of proof are you talking about?”

“Pictures of what? Did you see her in bed with anyone? Since when did online rumour mongers become a reliable source of information?”

Adam stared at both men. They were obviously aware that Halima had affairs but they were not going to admit it. If Halima was seeing someone else, he would have to find that information somewhere else.

“Do you know anyone who might have wanted to kill Senator Halima?” Kate asked.

“When you’re a politician, there are several people who want to kill you.” Hassan said. “Your constituents, your opposition, your own family.”

“You’re telling me there are hundreds of people who could have killed her?” Adam asked.

“Welcome to Abuja.” Hassan said.

“One more person tells me ‘welcome to Abuja’ and I will shoot something.” Adam said under his breath.

“Can I go now?” Hameed asked.

Adam did not feel like letting him go but he knew there was no point keeping him. He could not force him to talk, except he arrested him. That could not happen either, there was no evidence.

“You can go. If you have any information for us, please be sure to contact us.” Adam said.

Kate handed a card to Hameed, but Hassan collected it.

“Thank you for your help. We wish you all the best with your investigations.” Hassan said.

Adam watched them leave. He was not closer to finding the killer than he was in the morning.

“I can’t believe today is almost over and I have made no progress.” Adam said.

“Welcome to…”

“Don’t say it. I may live in Abuja but I am not of Abuja. Where I’m from, we get things done.”

“Hmhmm.” Kate said. She was looking at her phone intently.

Adam watched her for a while then asked. “What are you looking at?”

“You need to see this, I may have just found our killer.”

 

NB: If you want to download the story before this one DEMONS ON CHURCH STREET, click here

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