DIVISIONAL CRIME BRANCH: THE MYSTERY OF THE MISSING VIDEO (REVISED)
"And what is the boy telling you about his movement on Monday?" Mr. Idowu Alabi, the Divisional Police Office (DPO) asked me. Somehow, I noticed his mood has brightened up this morning. I have gone to his office to brief him of the case so far. We have not met since our last talk on the matter the previous day. Then, he was all business, urging me to follow up the case immediately. But now I could see the shadow of a smile playing around his face. He must have been informed of our exploit since this morning.
"I will get back to him soon,” I said shifting on my seat to face him. “I have him detained. I came to brief you on the level of our investigation. I believe he will be reasonable to talk something meaningful the next time we will meet."
"What did you learn from the other boys you have asked to go? Are you sure that what they said could be used against him?" he asked.
"Sir, what they said was very clear. I asked them all to tell me their whereabouts on that Monday morning. They were all at School except this very boy,” I explained to him. “And he tried to lie about that. If I have to ask, why would he want to lie about that? It’s a long shot Sir, but the boy has been a regular visitor to the Salamis' house. He was not in school on the day of the incident and he is lying about that. Why would he want to do that? I think I should hold on to that hunch till we prove otherwise," I pressed on.
"And you said the doors to the house were not broken." He reflected
"No, they were not. Whoever that came to the house must have let himself in without broken in. Also, they have lost a key earlier," I explained.
“I will expect to hear from you soon about the progress,” he said.
I took that as a parting word and stood up, saluted him and left the office for the Crime Branch. On the way, I met Cpl. Itoro, a colleague in the Crime branch office, and asked him to come into the office to observe the interrogation. I asked the Sergeant at the counter also to bring the boy from the cell.
I observed him closely as the Sergeant pushed him into the Crime office. He was looking at everywhere in the office except at my face. He appeared more subdued now than when he was brought into the office with his friends earlier in the morning.
“Dalapo,” I called him, “You can sit down on that bench”
He sat down silently, avoiding my face. I noticed his hands he held together between his knees trembled slightly.
I brought out a statement form from my drawer slowly, as if I have the whole time at my disposal, deliberately dragging the moment for effect. Itoro was sitting at another table grinning at me.
"Dalapo," I looked into his eyes suddenly across the table, "What class are you?"
"I am in class three," his voice was faint. He tried to look into my eyes.
"Which is more important to you in life?" I asked him. He was looking at me skeptically, not knowing where I was headed with the line of question.
"I mean, what is it that is more important to you in life; if you do not want to attend school?"
He sat back in his chair. I know he was trying to articulate an answer to the question.
"I will go to school," he said finally, trying to gain back his composure.
"When did you remove the key from Sunday's kitchen?" I drew my face to just some few inches from him.
I saw him fighting back on what he wants to say.
"I---Sir---I----, "and he trailed off without saying a word.
"Can you tell me what happened? Tell me everything you could remember," I prompted him.
"I was not the only one that went into the house," he finally admitted.
“I know you could not be the only one. Just tell me everything you know," I coaxed him firmly.
“Sir, it was some three months ago when we came to visit Sunday in their house”. He said and broke off again.
“Yes, I am listening,” I pressed him further. “You came to Sunday’s house, and what happened?”
“Sir, I don’t know what got into me that day,” he looked across at Itoro. “I removed the key to the Kitchen door while we were helping Sunday to clean the plates we used in eating.”
“Can you slow down a little,” Itoro said from the other table. “You removed the key from the kitchen door. Why did you do that?”
“Sir that was the mistake I made.” His voice shook a little. “I don’t know why I removed it.”
“Alright,” I said pleasantly. “You removed the key since three months ago, what were you doing with it since then?”
“I didn’t do anything with it, “he explained. “I left it in my bag. It was last Saturday when I was talking with my friend that I told him about the key I removed from a flat at the Delta Steel Company’s Estate (DSC Camp Extension). He said we can make some bucks from it. Somehow, I believed him.”
“How many of you came to Sunday’s house the day you removed the key?” I asked him. “Were the others also aware that you removed a key?”
“Ah no!” he shook his head violently. ”I don’t tell any of them.”
“How do you remove the video from the house last Monday?” Itoro asked him promptly
He sat forward on the bench and looked into my eyes. I saw that the initial fear I had noticed on him was gone. This was a new boy sitting in front of me. His eyes sparkled briefly, just briefly but I noticed it.
“It was easy,” he said, still looking at me. “We came to the gate wearing our school uniforms that Monday morning. The Security men were busy checking the vehicles and elderly people. Nobody paid any attention to school children. We went to Sunday’s house, opened the kitchen door with the key and went in.”
“You did not think that Sunday’s uncle or the wife would be at home at that time in the morning?” I asked him.
“Sir, those people were like White men. They are very strict about time. The uncle will drop the wife and Sunday off in the school before driving to his office at Aladja.”
“So, what happened when you got into the house?” I asked him.
“Nothing happened,” he spread out his hands in front of him. “We just packed the video into my school bag and left the house.”
“Who ate the rice in the pot?” Itoro asked him.
“Oh! The rice?” he shifted his eyes to Itoro and sat back against the wall. “We ate the rice in the kitchen. Well, I didn’t know why we did that, though, but when we enter the kitchen and saw the stew and the rice, I think it was just tempting.”
“Who went to the house with you, and where is the video now?” I asked him.
He shifted his eyes from mine and said his voice barely audible. “It was George. I went there with George. But I cannot tell you where the video is at present. He took it away the moment we came out from the Estate. He told me he has people that will pay some good money for it, and he went and sold it.”
He clasped his hands together, and huddled up at the edge of the bench, and put them between his locked knees and looked up at me, his eyes shining.
"Where can we get the George at this time of the day?" I asked him.
"I think he will be in his house at this time."
"And where is his house?" I asked my voice hardening just briefly.
He glanced at me and looked at Itoro.
"He lives opposite the market, before the Udu Bridge," his voice was a little more than a hush.
"Bara, let us go and get him before he gets wind of the arrest of his friend and gives us a difficult task of tracing him" Itoro was already on his feet.
"Okay, Dalapo, will you just sign his statement and then take us to your friend." I read out the statement to him and he signed it, his hand shook just briefly.