CHAPTER 22

The Leader made the call. ‘Jango, how are things on your end? Are we good to go?’

‘Yes sir. The package is complete. All we need now is the deployment of the shipment to us, so we can configure the gifts before dispersal.’

The Leader was pleased. ‘I know I can count on you.’ He terminated the call, dropped his phone and stretched out on his sofa. Plan B was a bit extreme but plan A was doomed to fail, or rather, he had lost faith in it. He stretched lazily.

At any rate, he would achieve his goal. The ubiquitous saying ‘the end justifies the means’ was apt in his case. Sad, it had become a cliché.

******************************************

Damilola had exhausted her leads and was tired. After working her contacts for information the previous day, she finally caught a whiff. A story was in the offing, it had to do with the president. For the full story, she needed to be in Abuja.

She pressed the contact, but the guy would give her no more. She spent the better part of the evening researching and studying the president’s itinerary. He was billed to speak that Saturday, two days from then at the Hilton hotel. She had wondered what the story could be, and so she pored and researched.

President Osita Anozie was expected to give a speech at a UN summit and though she didn’t know what he would be speaking on, she guessed it would be all political rants. After years of working closely with politicians, she still didn’t get them; neither could she stand their bullshit.

She stared at her computer screen for a very long time. Finally, she booked her flight ticket. Tomorrow she thought, tomorrow, I’ll know whether or not this lead was genuine. She hibernated her computer and raised her bed cover, it was time to sleep, she had been working all through the night. She fell asleep instantly.

*******************************************

Captain O’Brien got to the barracks on schedule. He realized he couldn’t talk to the commandant about getting men for his stint. On his way to the military barracks, he had remembered an old acquaintance that was posted to the garrison a couple of years back. He hoped the man would still be there, otherwise, he would have to talk to the commanding officer of the barracks.

When he got to the barracks, he asked the private at the entrance, ‘is Lieutenant Akin Aloba still here?’

The private eyed him suspiciously.

He peered at the name tag of the private; Salisu Ibrahim. ‘Hey!’ He spoke with authority. ‘Is the Lieutenant still in this barracks?’

The private became alert, wondering who he was. ‘Sir,’ he was courteous, ‘may I see an ID?’

Captain O’Brien observed the Private for a while. He produced his Identity card and the private saluted immediately. On other days, he would have smiled and chatted with the soldier. That morning, he wanted an answer. ‘Can you answer the bloody question now?’

‘Sir.’ Salisu Ibrahim saluted again. ‘Lieutenant Aloba will be in his office, it’s in Block D Room two, I think.’

‘Thank you.’ Captain O’Brien was already on his way.

He found the office complex and went in. He didn’t bother to ask questions, he went past the secretary’s office in a flash.

‘Excuse me…’ The secretary rose and tried to stop him.

He was already in the office. The man reading a newspaper at his desk, his reading glasses hanging at the tip of his nose looked up from the paper. At first he had an irritated look on his face, then as recognition dawned, he rose, spread his hands. A big smile was on his face, ‘Johnny boy.’

The secretary was clearly angered; she gave Captain O’Brien a dark look and hissed as he closed the door after him. ‘Just because he knows the man, he feels he owns the office.’ She hissed again.

Captain O’Brien embraced Lieutenant Aloba, ‘I need to ask you for a huge favour.’

Lieutenant Aloba sat. ‘Please sit,’ he thought for a while. ‘You mean you actually remembered me today and decided to pay me a visit that will mean I have to do you a favour?’

O’Brien exhaled. ‘It’s a matter of national security, and it’s rather urgent. Please, you can tell me how much you hate me tomorrow, but right now, I need a troop to command.’ His face was serious.

Aloba regarded O’Brien; they had been acquaintances before either of them joined the military. If the Captain was asking for men this early in the day… ‘What do you need the men for?’ He checked his time, it was past eleven a.m.

‘We’re going for an excursion. Did you hear about Jos?’

‘Who didn’t? Feels like James Bond fiction to me.’

‘Well, it isn’t. I supervised the extraction of the corpse of the killer-that’s the shooter. The Nigeria Intelligence Agency’s spy had left the scene. It was not a tidy corpse.’ O’Brien grimaced as he remembered Odalo’s death posture.

‘You’re joking.’

‘Why do you think I’m here in Calabar? I’m on the agent’s trail. Apparently, he’s onto something. I need men who have been well tested in combat to find him and aid him in his quest. He has an uphill task.’

‘You mean something’s about to go down in my city and you come here asking for men as a favour?’ Aloba walked round his table and sat directly in front of O’Brien on the table. ‘What exactly are we up against?’

‘One federal agent and loads of criminals. I suspect the agent may have gotten help, I can’t be sure.’

‘Where?’ Aloba probed.

O’Brien’s phone rang then. He answered it immediately. ‘Hello?’

‘Are you in Calabar yet?’

‘Yes. You have news for me. Share it.’ O’Brien said eager.

‘Na!’ The voice said. ‘I have better. You’re presently in block D of the barracks office complex. I have a man waiting for you just outside the building. Go with him, he’ll take you where you need to go.’

O’Brien didn’t allow the call terminate, he rushed out the door, surprising the secretary again. She hissed as she watched him go.

Aloba stood and followed his friend. His curiosity had been piqued enough to make him interested.

As captain O’Brien got outside the office, he saw a man asking directions from the soldier seated at the veranda. He waited for the person to turn. Lieutenant Aloba joined him and stared at the man. Finally, the man turned. He had a huge smile on his face. It was Sergeant Zach.

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