DIVISIONAL CRIME BRANCH:
THE MYSTERY IN THE HOUSE 3
It was a short drive to where we parked the car and walked the rest of the way in the silent dark night to the house.
The house was built with iron sheet, popularly called batcher. There was a light showing from a crack on the wall.
We fanned ourselves round the front of the room as I knocked at the door heavily. There was a brief silent and then some murmuring from within, I knocked a second time and called out; “It is the police. Open the door.”
There was silent for a long moment, and then, the clattering of the key and the door was opened. A young lady stood at the door blocking our view from the dark interior.
“We are Policemen from Ovwian /Aladja station.” Cpl. Itoro explained to her patiently. “Can you ask your boy friend, Richard, to come out? We want to ask him some questions at the station.”
She looked behind her shoulder briefly and all of sudden, the door was flung open, and a figure darted out, trying to bulldoze its way over Itoro who was standing in front. It was Charles who was standing behind with the two suspects that fired a warning shot into the air, which froze the fleeing man.
I grabbed his belt, and Itoro hit him a blow on the head with his clenched fist, which sort of calmed him down.
Richard was a heavily built young man. He was wearing a dark trouser and a black T-shirt. He looked around at the faces surrounding him while breathing heavily.
“Richard, we are arresting you for resisting arrest and other offenses,” I jeered at him.
“Do you know George here?” asked Charles flashing his touch at him.
“I don’t know anybody here,” he answered, his eyes bloodshot.
Looking confused, his girl friend was staring from the door of her room, as I brought out a pair of handcuffs from my pocket and put them on him.
“Our car cannot take you, Mr. Night fighter,” I told the man who brought us this place. “Please, Charles, can you release our friend to go to his house.”
“No problem.” He turned to the man, “we will come back for you if we get any information about you.”
“I am clean, Sir. I am clean.” With that, he sauntered off into the dark silent night, as we walked back to the car.
It’s going to be one busy night; I ruminated as we drove back to the station.
Back at the Crime Office, I told Mr. Salami to go home and come back at 7 O’clock in the morning. It has been one huge night for him as well, but he expects a result from the Police, and he is giving us his maximum co-operation.
Quite unexpectedly, Richard did not play tough headed with us. He told us that he had given the video recorder to another boy who sold it for him at the cost of six Hundred Naira.
He gave George four Hundred Naira. He did not ask George where he got the video from. He knew it was a cargo, and he needs to dispose it for him. It was one Njoku he gave the video to sell. Njoku owns a shop on Enerhen road just after the Motel.
He has no idea who bought the video from him. He will take us there in the morning when he opens his shop. That was all he was willing to disclose to us.
In respect to the recovery of the stolen video, this was a very helpful statement. But our worry is the trend and channel of the movement of stolen items.
For the Crime Branch to successfully curtail this menace of these bandits, we must destroy the syndicate’s leadership. This is one herculean task we much face soon.
7 O’clock on the hour, Mr. Salami came to the office with a man. “Mr. Baralate, please meet my brother, Bello. I came with him to accompany us on this morning’s run,” he introduced the man to me.
“Hello Mr. Bello,” I extended my hand to him. “You are welcome to join the team this morning,” I greeted him. “Let’s be going then. Itoro won’t be able to join us this morning, but Charles is available. He will go with us.”
Charles came out of the station with Richard on handcuffs to join us.
Joking over the activities of the early morning escapade, we drove to Enerhen Motel. The point has an interjection of three roads. One leading to Enerhen town; another from Udu road, which is the one we were coming from, and the other, straight ahead to Enerhen junction.
Richard asked us to stop the car just as we crossed the interjection. There were rows of shops at our right hand side.
“That is Njoku standing in front of that shop,” Richard pointed to a young man that has just come out from one of the shops.
He was wearing a red stripe shirt on a black trouser, looking up and down the road. I opened the door of the car and came out, “Richard, you stay in the car. Charles, Mr. Bello, you can help me to get that boy,” I told them.
As they opened their door to come out, the man was looking at us. I pretended to be looking elsewhere when our eyes met. Swiftly, he went back into the shop.
Charles and Bello had also noticed the movement of the man, and darted toward the back of the shop as I hurried upfront.
“Halt there,” my Beretta pistol was in my hand, stopping the man who was already opening the door behind.
“We are Police Officers from Ovwian/Aladja. We are arresting you,” I shouted to him.
Slowly he turned around to face me. He is a young man in his early 20s, about 5’, fair, with a charming smile.
“Ah Officer, what happened? What have I done?”
“You tell me,” I sneered.
Charles and Mr. Bello had come to join me in the front.
“Why are you trying to run away?” I asked him.
Charles went inside the shop and put a chain on his hands
“I am not trying to run away. I was just opening the back door of my shop,” he said confidently.
“Will you please lock the shop and follow us to the station,” I told him.
Richard looked at him as we came back to the car. “Please, where is the video recorder I gave to you to sell. That is what these Policemen are asking of.” He glared at him.
“Are you alright? Do I know you, and what video are you talking about?” he shouted back at him.
“Okay, that‘s alright,” I told them from the front seat. “You are Njoku, I’m sure?”
He did not answer me. He was showing his hostility to be humped in beside another man in chain.
“Well, the video recorder Richard here gave you to sell was stolen from this man,” I pointed to Mr. Salami who was trying to turn the car back to the station.
“He wants his video back,” I continued. “We have the boy that stole it, but we need it back. Richard here said he gave it to you to sell.”
“Oga(Sir), I am not with any video, and I don’t know what this man is talking,” he shook his head at me.
“Please, I feel like having an early morning drink,” Mr. Salami said, packing the car by a road side bar “Care to join me?”
It was the strangest of all Police work I have ever heard of, and most unethical thing any Police law could permit. But we did it. We bent the rule backward, put the rule in hold.
Six of us piled up into the Bar. Mr. Salami ordered five bottles of beer; one apiece, and one between the two men on hand cuff. The barman looked at us perplexed. It was just after 7 O’clock in the morning.
As we were about to leave the bar, Njoku signaled me to sit for a moment.
“Oga, let me be straight with you. I Knew Richard. He actually brought a video to me to sell. I asked a man if he is interested to buy it, and he agreed to buy. He gave me eight Hundred Naira for it,” he lowered his eyes to look at the empty glass on the table.
“So where is the man who bought the video from you,” I asked, suppressing a sinking feeling of disappointment. Are we to go to another round of merry–go-round, I thought.
“That is the problem Sir,” he said, looking up at me. “I cannot take you to him. But the video is still with me. If I give it to you, how will I get the money to refund to the man?” He was searching my face for an easy way out.
“Well,’ I heaved a sigh of relief. “I think you have no problem there,” I told him. “You can take us to the man and we will arrest him for receiving stolen property. In that way he cannot be asking you for a refund, or you can just hand the video to us and the man will accept his trade as business turned sour. Some you win, some you lose.”
All of us were looking at him as he contemplates on the wisdom of both alternatives.
“Okay,” he stood up. His mind made up. “Let’s drive back to my shop, and I will go and bring it.”
It was around 8 O’clock when we drove back to the station with the two suspects and the recovered video recorder.
The DPO came to the Crime office in appreciation of our effort. As of Mr. Salami, he was full of admiration for what the Police could do.
“Baralate, I was tagging along like a movie character in Hardly Chase novel. This is an epic movie. It was like a thriller on a paperback. You will come to the house one day to explain other exploits the Divisional Crime Branch has accomplished.” With that as a parting word, he drove away.