That was three months ago, and pandemonium had broken all over the country as the media went viral with the news that the president was dead. Of course the summit had to be suspended, and lives lost were as recorded by the media close to two hundred. Then the impossible happened that night, whilst the nation mourned. The president resurrected.
As the news made rounds and families got the sad news of a member’s passing in the blast, the nation fell into a time of grief. People took to the streets mourning the departed, singing a dirge for the country, and then someone whispered, the president was still alive. He was derided, but the news spread. The President would address the nation in an hour.
Dare remembered what he was doing that Afternoon: he was watching Chelsea FC play Fulham FC at the Stamford Bridge. It was a forgettable game, they had drawn and Chelsea FC had gone on a bad run of four other games in the English Premiership that would cost them the title. His phone rang in the middle of the game, he answered it cheerfully.
‘Hey Tolu long time mehn, how are you?’ It was Damilola’s brother on the other end of the phone.
‘It’s happened, she’s gone.’ He was solemn and direct. No preambles, no greetings just the message.
‘I’m sorry? What do you mean?’ Dare was already on his feet. His interest in the game had vanished as a thousand thoughts raced through his mind. Gone? Where?
‘Watch the news man, you’ll understand. My sister is dead!’ The phone clicked off as abruptly as it had rang.
Dare stood there for minutes, dazed. Dead? How? He switched from the football match to local stations. There was no news on the first station, just a pre-recorded show, he flicked to the next. Another annoying programme. He kept switching until he came to the news station. He sat slowly as he read the caption scrolling at the bottom of the TV screen.
Bomb blast in Abuja! Presidential motorcade bombed! President feared dead! It was then the pictures were shown. He shut his eyes slowly and his world spiralled into an eternal chasm of depression.
That was how he lost her; he adjusted in his seat and waited for the application to start. He understood that she died trying to cover a story on the president, she had died instead along with several others, and the man had lived. He was presently delivering the speech he was prevented from delivering three months back, and Dare had no compunctions against that. He would finish the work the president’s enemies failed to complete. The president was a dead man talking. He looked at his device, the application had started.
For the last three months, Tunde Smart, Efe Charles and other operatives had been working round the clock to apprehend Ismaila Arigbabuwo. The crime lord was a slippery character and the agents learned that pinning him to a location was not something they could do easily. He was constantly moving.
The military officers helped too. Captain O’Brien and Lieutenant Aloba had become close pals. He remembered their meeting with President Anozie after the bomb blast. The president had hugged every one of them, shaken their hands and offered his gratitude. Then he went into the next room to address the nation and that was their reward for saving the man’s life. A presidential embrace.
As Tunde walked the sides of the hall, watching for unexpected movements, or the familiar face of Ismaila, nothing jumped out at him. His team behind the podium, were snapping, scanning and verifying that the person sitting there in the hall had no animus against the president.
Time was running out, the scanning was running slow. Add to that, internet network was dragging. Tunde dragged Efe and they moved out from behind the podium before the president was introduced. His earpiece beeped.
‘We’ve just apprehended three men transporting guns on Ozumba Mbadiwe. They turned into Ademola Adetokunboh not knowing we’ve set up a loose check point there. The second car drove towards Lekki and our agents are in pursuit.’
‘Give me up to the minute report.’ Tunde was on his way out. Charles was already at the door when he got there. Both men stormed out of the hall and broke into a run. It had begun. They jumped into a waiting car outside the place and as it was about driving away, Tunde screamed; ‘stop!’
The driver of the car slammed the brakes, confused. So were the other occupants. ‘What’s wrong?’ It was Charles who dared ask.
Tunde didn’t bother answering, he already had his gun in his hand by the time he opened the door and started racing away from the car. He wasn’t sure about his hunch, but he could swear that there was something off about the madman strolling towards the Ocean View restaurant nonchalantly.
The madman realised the gun wielding man was running towards him and did the unthinkable. He threw away his garb and other encumbrances he had on. Underneath his clothes was an automatic rifle. He activated it and started shooting in the general direction of the approaching man.
Tunde ducked and rolled away lying behind the concrete separator. He made a mental note to thank the contractor who did the construction. He looked back to see Efe Charles and the other scampering. The security officials and innocent passers-by weren’t so lucky. Most had been cut down by the pellets.
Tunde lay on the road and hyperventilating. He counted to three, raised his head and aimed for the man. The madman was already running away. He got up and gave chase, so did Efe Charles who was far behind him.
Dare was busy controlling the app. He was aligning the trajectory and bringing the target into focus. He smiled as the President’s head appeared in the cross hairs of the application on his palm top. He was about to hit the button when the unthinkable happened.
His hand stalled, as he stared in horror. He raised his head to determine he hadn’t gone mad and was seeing a ghost. There she was, interrupting the President’s speech and saving his life from the bullet that had his name on it.
He rose to his feet and screamed, ‘No!’ The device in his hand fell, the whole room turned to look at him, and then the unthinkable happened.
The gun he had primed to kill the President went off. His palm top was a touch screen device and had activated on touching the floor of the hall. The president ducked instinctively, Damilola did same. The bullet had hit one of the ministers behind the podium, the hall became lively and all the attendees stood, scampering away. That was when they heard it.
The report of an automatic gun firing outside the hall filled the hall. Those already at the door going out headed back in causing a lot of commotion and stampede.
The security officials were blind. The flurry of people, the stampede and chaos meant that they could not track one person. The wise ones moved away from the people, guns at the ready whilst their newer colleagues rushed with the people.
Dare was standing still where he was. He was too dazed to move, too stunned to react. The gunshots made him duck, and he started crawling through the chairs to the podium. He got up in time, saw as she aided the president through the back door. He allowed himself say her name then. ‘Damilola!’
She turned back to observe him briefly and then, she was gone.
He fell on the closest seat behind him, his face in his hands, he had almost killed a man for her, and she had been alive all along.
Tunde was chasing the man on the road. Efe Charles was far behind; both men had their guns ready. The man didn’t stop, did look back, he just kept running. After a while, he grabbed a hold of his automatic and turned round shooting sporadically at anything that was in sight.
Tunde had anticipated him; he jumped right into the shrubs growing in front of a bank on the road. He fired three quick rounds and waited. The report of the automatic reduced, he rose and saw Efe walking towards him, his gun trained on the man lying in the middle of the road, blood streaming from underneath him.
He lay lifeless and Charles kicked away his gun when they finally got to him. A round had hit him in the throat, but there was no mistaking it, the agents knew they had ended Ismaila Arigbabuwo.
Tunde Smart paused and stared across the ocean beside him, the most notorious man the country had seen lay dead at his feet, and he felt a deep hole in his heart. He realized he was no longer cut for that kind of work. ‘Take care of the situation,’ he patted Charles’ shoulder and started walking towards the beach, leaving his colleague to wonder.