THE ANGEL AND THE FUGITIVE – CHAPTER SEVEN PART A
© Reginald Obetta
The health conference was to fully commence by 10 am at the Mariam Aliyusi Conference center, the guests had not started arriving as of 7.30 am when Ruff and his team had arrived in a white and yellow stripped vehicle of pie reporters, the reporting media had an exclusive rights to cover the health conference as well as two others. Tafa, who had been very close to Ruff ever since he became a member, observed the scenery from where he stood with Ruff, in the parking lot. The center was enormous with glass frames, the green white green flag flew high up on the Cadre, plethora of security personnel flooded the entrance and the drive way, thoroughly searching anyone who passes through the door. Ruff and Tafa walked to the entrance, with a microphone, flashed their I.Ds to them ;
“Henry Richmond and Chris Eze from pie reporters “. They were allowed a pass into the building reception, where the other reporters from other media houses stood. Some of the guests started arriving in their convoys, some in private cars, the foreign health experts were the first to arrive and be interviewed, Tafa and Ruff split, while Tafa remained to interview more guests, Ruff went to the restroom and dialed Kamal;
“Where are you? ”
“Am at the back door, Binani is setting the explosives in the park now”
“Ok, I will be there by and by”, Ruff headed for the door, behind him on the passage was security official trailing him, he came from behind the door of the alternative entrance and gave him a darting left-handed punch on his forehead, pulling his body to the back where Kamal was, Ruff quickly exchanged the uniform with his clothes, took few explosives from Kamal and headed for the left wing of the building and then, back to the driveway, the last place he would place the bomb.
The influx of government officials had increased, Tafa continued his pretense, he waited for Ruff for some explosives to be planted in the populated room, it arrived in an envelop, Tafa detached the detonator on the main door, in every corner of the room and left for the back door, with Ruff and Kamal and vanished to where Rogers was waiting in their bus, about half a mile away.
“Got in time you all”, Rogers welcomed.
Their reaching there astonished them, they were incomplete, they wondered what had kept Binani from reaching there.
“Where the hell is Binani? He is supposed to have been here already”
Just then, he was sighted, running towards the bus, the sight relieved them of anxiety in their bosom.
“Ahh”, Rogers exclaimed, “you almost elapsed the time”
“It’s okay, am fine let’s get out of here” Binani assured them.
“So what do we do with the hostages at the back? ”
“We should drop them faraway from here. They will wake up and not remember any of this happened”
The real pie reporters were kidnapped along a highway in the same vehicle that conveyed them to the conference, the reporters were sedated, that accounted for their sleeping. A big sound of explosion was heard as they drove off, thick smoke covered the clouds like a fog, there was a wide spread commotion as two blasts sounded simultaneously, seconds after the first. The President, Ajuwa Williams survived along side others but majority of the foreign experts were dead. Another blast sounded in the alternative exit, Ajuwa Williams managed to escape but his bodyguards behind were dead.
The announcement of the death of some ministers and the foreign health experts put everyone in shock, in the country and in the diaspora, the country had presented themselves with a negative image and calls were being made for the President to resign amidst unresolved disposition. The President himself had declared that day and the next as a holiday to mourn the departed souls. His closed door meeting with his security Chiefs ended and he was left in his depressed state and deep thinking. His several hours of segregation made him reach his final deductions, firstly, a rich political figure whether in his government or not is inconsequential, financed the deadly group to rob him of his second term, tarnish his image and distract him of his campaign. The group knew everything virtually happening in his home and so, he suspected a mole was in his home, and so, were information wise and planned ahead, that was his second deduction, though, they lacked substantial clues, he was sure he was right.
Investigations were carried out, no evidence pointed out to anyone in particular that was the culprit except for few footages that captured Binani putting something that they envisioned as box under a car in the parking lot, a security official running with a cleaner, all was blurry, efforts to get the imaging vivid was abortive, that was a lead they had wanted, they wished they got.
“Did you see they all ran before the time of the explosion? That is to say they knew that it was going to explode, that accounted for their take off. They did it”, stated the new National Intelligence Unit boss, Victor Okafor. He was appointed by the President himself to replace the former, he considered incapable and fiddle. He was addressing a co-worker in the office, who was watching the tape with him in the control room.
“What if they didn’t? Maybe they saw the bomb and was to scared to alert bomb public so, they fled for their lives”
“It doesn’t seem to appear so, look at it again, they all knew themselves, the other two ran in the same direction. The security official was with a walkie-talkie, why didn’t he communicate with the rest, we got them there. So bad we couldn’t see their faces “.
“Sir, should I get the report forwarded to the defence Ministry and other security agencies?”
“Yes, please, that is what we were able to get at the moment, check for more available footages to see if we can get a more vivid imaging”, He instructed and left for his office. NIU was a subsection under the ministry of defence that over sees the CCTV, every movement on the road and premises within the city, right from their office base. They worked hand in hand in relating information to other security agencies, especially in matters that has no root cause or definite findings like the one they were dealing with in which the person or group of persons carrying out the bombings are yet to be discovered. The President’s order on deployment of military in those states that has been severely affected was only a temporary result to combat the crisis, as state of emergency has already been declared. The severity of the matter will determine which security agency is solely responsible for the operation, whether it’s a terrorist group or mere political thugs.
“Excuse me sir, we have some vivid pictures about them, they are in Baigari state and are students, “one of the operators presented a file to Mr Okafor in his office.
“Good, we will have to contact everyone now”.
Tafa’s first mission was very successful, he was gladden at the back of his mind and had been in his dreams till he woke up from his heavy slumber, it was a sunny morning, the rays focused on his eyes and he immediately, jerked to a sitting position. The rays wasn’t the only reason, the hard knocks he heard on the door disturbed his sleep. Rogers was out again, he wasn’t sure if he slept at all before leaving. The journey was longer than usual, they needed to take another route back to the state. That night was a long one for all of them. Tafa pulled his sleeveless on and headed for the door, Rita stood with Pastor Simon, Tafa reluctantly exchanged greetings with them and led to his room.
“To what do I owe this visit? I never expected any of you”, Pastor Simon cleared his obstructed throat before commencing to speak.
“We came to see you, to see how you are doing”
“I can see you came to see me and luckily, am doing very great and superfluous”
“Tafa, your life is extremely important to God, He still loves you and ready to take you back more than ever. Your pain, burdened heart, he will take care of those only if you… ”
“Only if what”, he cuts in, “ if I go back to Him in what? And who will He take care of? I don’t need to be taken care of by anyone, so don’t blab in front of me with your teachings. I was once devoted to Him and my devotion is unparalleled, you know that, she knows that and God Himself knows that. Where was His power when I lost everything that was me, my family? I went from pain to pain, prayed and yet, afflictions caught the righteous more than once, more than twice. You keep deceiving people He still exists while He doesn’t”
“Brother Tafa, don’t speak like that, in time of tribulations, He is always there to help, even when you give up on natural happenings, the extraordinary happens. Disaster is inevitable in one’s life and only Him knows why such things happen. Sometimes, you lose the most important people in your life, you just have to move on”
“That’s just what I have done, moved on with my life, I believe in myself, not some sort of a non-existent Being. I am a god myself ”
“Don’t become the person that you aren’t, you are still a tool in His Vineyard”
“Am not anyone’s tool”, Tafa screamed at the top of his voice, “I care about nothing, not even the God you worship. I have chosen a path I believe, that is worth believing. I can be anything I want to be. Why do you still bother about me when you disappointed me the time I needed you and the church, I would have saved my father who was at the top of the list of patients for a new heart, probably saved my siblings. You all saved your money because of greed, you are not to be forgiven and you will definitely pay one day”
“I wasn’t in the position to help you, I am just an assistant pastor, nothing more”
“But you could still have done something, I waited for an answer from you until the last day when my father had another arrest and was about to breathe his last. If you had told me earlier, I would have sought for an alternative but you didn’t. No, you could have done something. ”
Pastor Simon felt terribly guilty and with that, Tafa dismissed them. They knew almost immediately that Tafa wasn’t the same anymore, he had metamorphosed into something fierce, powerless to be changed, like some kind of spell was cast on him. The circumstances that surrounded him changed him for worse. He wasn’t going back to the same faith that blinded him and obstructed his sense of reasoning over time, that failed to make him realised that he was going down the drain till he found a new faith that he called, “the light”. Tafa’s new self was unimaginably bitter to Rita, who didn’t utter a word all through. Her presence was barely recognised by Tafa except once. When she looked back at him and he didn’t reciprocate, she realised that she had lost him. It wasn’t her Tafa and in as much she wanted to profess her feelings yet again, she still couldn’t. To her, it was late to do that. She was scared and lacked the audacity to talk to him normally like the old times. It was gone, another being had been unleashed from his within, so uncontrollable. He was no longer the immaculate Tafa, the one she loved so much that she couldn’t profess her feelings to him. She got his attention by calling out his name for the last time wished him, “Good luck ” and closed the door behind her. Tafa reached for his packet of cigarettes and spirit in the cupboard and combined the two in what he called, a warmup. He didn’t mind abandoning his pursuit of a career in school , none of his friends attended classes after all, they used the University as one of their hideouts since they would be least suspected. He was happy with the way he has become, who he had translated into.