It was around 8 O’clock in the evening. A young lady and a gentleman sat facing each other in a five-star hotel in Abuja, the capital of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. They were meeting for the first time and they were meeting for a very important reason. They were planning the death of a man who truly deserved to die.
The lady was Louisa Luiz, 26 years of age, extremely beautiful and a graduate of Financial Studies. For 16 years she had been thinking about this meeting and every day, she had patiently waited for it. Sixteen years ago, she witnessed the gruesome murder of her father, a union leader. Then, the military were ruling the nation and they were obsessed with power. Her father was among the very few people who dared them.
On the ill-fated day, when Louisa was 10, her father’s arrest was ordered by the military and he was to be brought to the barracks dead or alive. Her father resisted the arrest and the army officer that led the team did not hesitate to pull out his gun and shoot him right in the presence of his wife and daughter.
Her mother, who was also an activist died shortly after that incident in a hospital, but her last words to Louisa was to avenge her father’s death and Louisa was determined to do just that. Her uncle, who took custody of her after her parents’ death also promised to assist her in actualizing that dream and had been keeping tab on the army officer who pulled the trigger. The officer’s name was Stephen Brail, then a Captain but now a General.
The young man was James Sydney, 29 years of age and he possessed the best record amongst the hit men of his generation. He was born in South Africa and grew up there. At 14 he had been trafficking drugs and was arrested for same offence at 17. Because he was a juvenile then, he was not sentenced; he was rather deported to Nigeria his home country. On getting to Nigeria he joined the army cadet and was later fully admitted into the Nigerian Army. There he was trained as a commando before he was dismissed for a series of offences. After his dismissal from the army, he joined the dreaded Dragon’s mafia and the police believed that he was involved in all high-profile crimes committed in recent times. Louisa’s uncle suggested to her that if anybody could assassinate a serving general, it had to be James Sydney.
Louisa’s uncle had arranged this meeting and Louisa did not waste time in telling Sydney exactly what she wanted and her reason for it.
Characteristically, Sydney would never say something was impossible. To him, the first thing was money. After getting the money, then he would consider the possibility of the assignment. If it was something that was possible, he would do it but if not, he would just ignore it and assumed he had no contract with anybody. If the person that paid him complained that his job had not been done, he would shout and asked him how he expected anybody to do such thing. If that one asked for his money back, he would politely give him the address of the nearest police station and even offered the phone number of the divisional police officer there. So the moment Louisa mentioned the name of the person to be assassinated, he did not care to listen to the rest of the story again. How could anybody in their right senses expect him to assassinate a serving General, and not just a General but the head of the Military Intelligence Unit? Sydney knew Brail very well; he had trained under him when he was still in the army.
When Louisa finished her story, Sydney simply replied it, “It will cost you twenty million naira”.
Louisa laughed. “Where will I get such an amount of money? Look Sydney, we have done something that will make the job easier.”
“What is that?” Sydney asked.
“For over two years now, my Uncle has been monitoring this man and has discovered that he sometimes visits somewhere secretly alone without any of his aides”.
“Really?” Sydney asked.
“Yes”, she replied and produced a map of Abuja and its neighbouring towns.
“Look, this is how my uncle described his movement. This is his house.”Louisa pointed a finger at a spot on the map. “And these arrows show the path he uses to get to his secret haven”.
“How often does he do that?” Sydney asked.
“Randomly, maybe an average of once a week.”
“You’ve done half of the job, so your bill can be reduced to ten million naira”, Sydney said.
“Listen, Mr. Sydney. I earn a million naira in a year and I have only worked for one year. All these while, I have been living on my uncle, but this matter is my baby, I have to deal with it myself”.
Sydney stared at her.
“Miss Louisa, you are offering me a million naira to assassinate a serving General in the city of Abuja. It will cost more than that to kill a beggar living in the bush”.
“That’s all I have, James. If I have to pay you twice that amount, this mission will have to wait for another year”.
Sydney thought briefly. He reasoned within himself that since he was not going to carry out any mission, then any amount of money would be just fine.
“Alright, when will I have the money?” he asked.
“Gimme your account number and I will transfer it there now.”
Sydney did not know why he had decided to take a look at the road Louisa claimed Brail used to follow alone. Probably, he had done it for the fun of it. He had no intention of carrying out the assassination and he had seen the money Louisa paid him as one of the easiest money he had earned in recent time. There wouldn’t be any argument about it, for there was no date fixed for the operation. Louisa had asked him when the deed would be carried out and he replied, “When I kill him, you will read it in the newspapers”. So she may keep on buying newspapers everyday for as long as she may wish. And if she eventually asked him that she had not read it in the papers, he would reply her that he was still monitoring him to decide the best time to strike. If she could not wait then he would offer to give her a gun to carry out the assassination herself. To Sydney that was a cool way of earning a million grand, someone’s one year labour.
Being bored that particular evening, Sydney decided to follow the path mapped by Louisa that Brail used to travel alone. He drove along the road, and indeed it was isolated. After about 30 minutes drive out of the city of Abuja, Sydney saw a small castle which he recognized immediately as a perfect place for a secret meeting. If indeed Brail had been following the path, this must be the place he had been visiting. He drove a little bit further and parked his car. He came out of the car and walked back to observe the castle properly.
As he got closer to the building, he suddenly saw the light of an approaching car. He immediately lay flat between the shrubs. In that position, he was sure he could not be seen whereas he could clearly see the person coming. Perhaps he was going to work for the money he collected after all, and put a smile on Louisa’s face.
The idea suddenly came to his mind that the person coming would certainly be General Brail and if he was coming alone as Louisa claimed he used to do then it would be very easy for him to assassinate him there and then.
From here he lay, he could easily send a bullet to the General’s head and escape before anybody could even hear the sound of the gun. All he needed was to wait for him to come out of the car.
He gently put his hand into his holster and jerked out his gun.
General Brail stopped in front of the castle but did not come out of the car. He waited there for about two minutes and Sydney stayed still in the shrub waiting for him to come out. Then Sydney noticed that someone inside the compound was opening the gate from inside. The gate was opened and the person came out, yet Brail remained in the car. Sydney cursed. He noticed that the person that opened the gate was a lady, but that was all he could see of her.
Brail started the engine and drove inside. The lady closed the gate again, and Sydney then stood up. “Son of a bitch” he said to himself after hissing dejectedly.
That brief attempt to carry out the assassination had a lot of effect on Sydney. He had been thinking about how happy Louisa would be if she read it in the paper the following day that the General had been assassinated. How she would wish to see him again to say thank you. How beautiful Louisa was and how lovely it would be to have her as his girl. He suddenly decided that he would carry out the assassination. It came to his mind that if Brail could come alone, certainly the woman he was coming to meet would also be alone. If there was any security agent with her, he would be the one to open the gate. He knew what married men did when they were cheating.
Stealthily, Sydney walked closer to the building. The fence was tall, but that wasn’t much of a problem to him. By the time he got to the top of the fence, it was completely dark and nobody in the area could see him. He quietly jumped down.
There was light everywhere inside the compound but nobody was in sight. The whole compound was as quiet as a graveyard.
The house was a bungalow. He was sure the door would be locked and he had no skeleton key with him, so he did not waste his time going to the door. He went straight to the roof.
With a small metal in his pocket, he removed some nails and that gave him access to the ceiling. He crawled on the ceiling quietly keeping his ears close to the ceiling as much as possible to hear the sound coming from the house.
It did not take him a long time to locate where they were for they were talking loudly.
When Sydney was sure he was directly on top of them, he cut out a hole in the ceiling. It was a professional and a very difficult thing to do, but he had done it on many occasions before. He had to cut it and hold it to prevent it from falling down and it had to be done as quietly as possible to prevent them from looking up.
After cutting the hole successfully, he took out his gun and put it on the ceiling, and then he took a look at them so that he could determine how to adjust the nozzle. He didn’t want to shoot more than once. He had never missed a target before. But as he looked down he saw something that greatly surprised him.
The lady in the room with General Brail was Dr. Jemima Yakubu, the honourable Minister for Works and the most likely presidential running mate in the next general elections.
It suddenly occurred to Sydney that the death of Brail would not fetch him any extra money but a video clip of what was going on between this two public figures could earn him as much as fifty million naira. He quickly put his gun aside and took out his phone.
Not knowing what was going on above them, General Brail poured himself three full cups of whisky and then settled down to the task at hand. Dr. Yakubu also played an active role in the show. She proved that she was not only good at her daytime job of constructing bridges and roads; she could also give a blow job.
Sydney ensured he captured every action from when the first item of clothing was removed until when the panties were dropped on the floor. He captured the whole of the powerful thrust of the General, the moaning and sobbing of the awaiting vice president, her spectacular yelling for the General to carry on, her turning and shifting in different style on the bed until the General finally erupted inside her.
The ex-commando did not need to worry about how to get out of the scene as the two actors were too exhausted to notice any movement in the ceiling.
It was a Saturday afternoon. It had been a very busy day for General Brail. Twice, the president had called him on the phone. He had visited the Chief of Defence Staff. He had already gone through over ten different files and many more were still waiting to be treated. Then his secretary entered and informed him that there was a courier service operator who insisted he had a parcel to be delivered to the General personally. General Brail told his secretary to go and bring the courier operator to his office. Within the interval of the time that the secretary left and returned with the operator, he had received three phone calls. He was receiving the fourth one while at the same time signing for receiving the parcel. The secretary then collected the parcel from the courier operator and was about to give it to the General, but General Brail signalled to him to open it. She opened it. It contained a compact disc. Brail collected it and the secretary left.
On many occasions, people have sent information to him through compact discs, so he was not worried about the disc. Such information were usually secret information so he used to watch them alone. He pressed a button to call his secretary again.
“I am busy now. Nobody is to see me”, he told his secretary.
“OK, sir”, she replied.
Just as he was about to plug in his disc player, the intercom on his table rang. It was his secretary.
“I am sorry sir, but the COAS is here to see you”, she said.
“You mean General Kambo is here personally?” he asked.
“Then, send him in”.
Brail was at a loss why the Chief of Army Staff would come to his office personally. After the usual military salutation, Brail said,
“You should have sent for me”.
“I couldn’t send for everybody, so it is better that I meet everybody”.
“What is the issue?” Brail asked.
General Muhammed Kambo dropped a paper bag on the table. The parcel was labeled “TOP SECRET”.
“That is your copy of the Millitary Intelligence Service Report”, Kambo said.
General Kambo had volunteered to handle the production and distribution of the MIS Report even when it was obvious that it was Brail’s duty. Most of the content had been compiled by the Military Intelligence Unit where Brail was the head. But Kambo always wanted to get involved in everything.
“Did you eventually make a copy for the president?” Brail asked.
“No. We can’t trust these politicians with top military secrets”,Kambo replied.
Brail did not discuss the issue further. It had been discussed before. Most of the military’s top officials only saw the “C-in-C” title of the president as a mere formality.
After another round of salutations, Kambo left. Brail saw him to the door. Just as he was closing the door, his cell phone rang. This time, it was a customized number bearing “urgent”. Brail answered it but not urgently.
“Hello”, he said.
“Hello, General”, a voice replied.
The voice sounded to Brail as being unreal but familiar. He tried to remember where he had heard the voice before.
“Who am I speaking with?” he asked.
The voice sounded more familiar.
“What do you want?”
“Have you received the compact disc?” the voice asked.
“Yes, but I have not watched it. What does it contain?”
“You need to watch it first. I’ll call you back in an hour’s time.”
“Wait. James, is that you?” Brail asked.
“Sydney, you don’t need to change your voice for me. I trained you on how todisguise your voice” Brail said.
“Alright, you’ve got me”. Sydney said in his real voice.
“So,what does the disc contain?”
“Watch it first”, Sydney said and terminated the call.
As Brail was about to sit down, his phone rang again. This time it was Dr. Jemima Yakubu.
“How are you doing, dear?” Brail asked on the phone.
“Steve, there is a problem.”
“I received a disc now containing a video clip of the two of us”
“Really? That’s James Sydney.”
“How? Why do you say so?”
“I’ve just received one myself too, although I’ve not watched it. Then Sydney called to ask if I had watched it.”
“He called me too and told me to wait for the next instruction.”
“That boy is ruthless”, Brail said.
“So,what are we going to do?”
“When can we see?”
“I can’t risk meeting you in Abuja again. Can we meet in Adamawa?” Yakubu asked.
“Why Adamawa?” Brail asked back.
“I have a house in my village there, where nobody can see us.”
“Ok. So when are we meeting?”
“I am on my way there now.”
“Alright, I will join you there tonight. Send the address to me.”
“I will. But please, don’t come at night. The road to my village is a death trap.”
“Don’t worry. I’ll be fine”, Brail said and terminated the call.
He looked at his wrist watch. It was past three in the afternoon. A journey to Adamawa State would provide him an opportunity to see his family in Jos. It had been some time now that he had travelled out of Abuja. He called his PA and asked him to get a military helicopter ready for him to take him to Jos and prepare his briefcase. He told him he would need a sum of one million naira to travel with.
After studying five more files, Brail changed from his uniform to mufti. He wore a kaftan with a small cap. His PA entered his office and told him everything was ready. Brail gave him the compact disc Sydney sent him and asked him to put it in the briefcase.
Brail watched as his PA reorganized his table. The PA took up a paper bag labeled “TOP SECRET” and asked his boss what to do with it.
“Oh! I think I’d better take it along and study it at home. Put it in my briefcase” he ordered.
Five minutes later, Brail was accompanied to a waiting helicopter by his security staff. He relieved all of them of their several duties and entered the aircraft alone. He ordered the pilot to fly to Jos Airport.
Yakubu thought about James Sydney. She had never met him before, but she had heard a lot about him. She knew he was quite a professional. Brail had once told her that the military made a mistake of dismissing him. Of course, if he was not a professional, how could he have been able to take those pictures without them knowing anything about it? She could afford to give him any amount of money, but how would they be sure that he would not be constantly coming back to them to demand for money. The best way to deal with a blackmailer was to kill them. She instantly wished the blackmailing bastard would rot in the hottest part of hell. But she was not sure if Brail would approve of killing Sydney and the more important thing to worry about was that if Sydney was the best hit man in town as was generally believed, then who would do the job on the first born of the devil himself?
Her mind also went to the grave implications of the leakage of the video to the media. She couldn’t imagine such pictures being circulated on social media. It would completely ruin her political career, especially now that she was warming up for the post of the vice president and she was secretly nurturing the ambition of becoming the first female president after the second tenure of the current president.
She suddenly looked at her wrist watch. The time was ten minutes to ten. She started to panic. She quickly dialled Brail’s number. The phone rang, but it was not answered. She did it repeatedly but got the same result. Fear gripped her. She couldn’t imagine any bad thing happening to Brail. But by 11 O’clock when Brail had not arrived, she was sure that something terrible had happened. She began to sweat.
The Chief of Defence Staff was in a Sunday church service when an usher told him that some military men were waiting for him outside. He immediately left his seat and was surprised to see General Kambo, the Chief of Army Staff, and some of his aides. After a very brief salutation, Kambo went straight to the point.
“I have been trying to speak with you for the past two hours but your calls have been diverted to your assistant.”
“Yes,” the Defence Chief replied. “That is the culture here. When you are in the church, you do away with your phone.”
“Sir, you are a Service Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” Kambo reminded him.
“You mean the Federal Republic of Nigeria is greater than God?” the superior officer asked.
“No, but there is an emergency now.”
“What is that?”
“General Brail is missing,” Kambo replied.
“Brail? But I still saw him at the Headquarters yesterday.”
“Yes, he was at the Defence Headquarters throughout yesterday. I served him a copy of the Intelligence Service Report myself around 3’Oclock in the afternoon. About three hours later, he left the office. He told his PA he was visiting his family in Jos. For an undisclosed reason he decided to go alone. He flew to Jos in one of our choppers. At Jos Airport, a car was waiting for him. And for another unknown reason he decided to travel alone to an unknown destination. He eventually had an accident at the creek of River Benue around 8:30pm.”
The Defence Chief was listening patiently.
“An eye witness claimed that some Fulani men fishing at the river came to rescue him”, Kambo continued. “After giving him first aid, they put him in their canoe and sailed away. We got the news early this morning and up till now, we have been unable to locate where they took him to,” Kambo concluded.
The Defence Chief looked at his wrist watch. It was quarter to nine. Then he said “If he had an accident just last night and was taken somewhere for treatment, I think it is too early to conclude that he is missing”.
“Maybe,” Kambo replied calmly. “But General Brail was travelling with a copy of the MIS Report” he added.
The Defence Chief looked surprised. He almost screamed, “You mean a copy of the Military Intelligence Service Report is missing?”
“That is it,” Kambo replied.
“That is trouble; no, no, no. It is trouble, especially now that the nation is at war”.
Both Service Chiefs remained silent for about a minute, and then the Defence Chief said, “What is the assurance that he is indeed being treated as the witness assumed?”
“The Fulanis that took him may indeed have good intentions at the initial stage, but Brail’s PA said he had a sum of one million naira in his bag. The local men can’t see such an amount of money and ignore it. The moment they see it, they will forget about the hand they wanted to lend and go after the money. Who knows, Brail might be feeding the fish in the river by now”.
The Defence Chief took a deep breath but remained silent. Kambo continued, “I believe the Fulanis will have no interest in our secrets, they may not even be able to read it. But they may dump it carelessly anywhere, and it can get into the wrong hands”
“In which direction did the witness say the boat went?” the Defence Chief asked.
“He did not notice”.
“That makes it complicated”.
“Exactly, they might have sailed up to Yola or down to Calabar”.
The superior officer thought momentarily and said, “If they are Fulanis, they would go up”.
“I thought so too,and now we have over 500 men searching the northern desert as well as the Sambisa forest”
“That is good. What about the insurgents?”
“I don’t know if they have heard about it, but as soon as they hear I am sure they will troop out in large numbers and you know that they know the terrain better than we do.”
“I will talk with the Air Marshall, as soon as you notice them, we will attack them from the air”.
“We may not be able to do that,” Kambo replied.
“We may end up dropping a bomb on Brail. We never can tell, he may be receiving treatment somewhere in the forest”.
The Defence Chief smiled stylishly. He said, “Kambo, we have to set our priorities right here. We must sacrifice whatever we need to sacrifice. Brail’s life is not as important as the MIS Report. Do whatever you need to do to get the Report back. It must not get to the terrorists”………
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