I was summoned by the D.P.O after three days on return from the Military Barracks in Enugu, I was wearing only Boxers. I stood before him trembling out of cold and fear of the unknown; I had slept on bare floor without any covering all night.
Soldier man! Are you ready to confess now? He bellowed
Sir! I have told you the whole truth! God is my witness; I said
Hmm, my friend, if you know the gravity of your offence, you would say the truth! Say the truth now so that I can help you now that you are still here, the earlier you did that, the better for all of us! He said.
Oga! Do you want me to implicate myself? I asked
Are you not implicated already! He shouted; look at this mumu o! You claimed you bought a stolen car! Is that not implicating already.
Okay sir! But what about the Man that sold the Car to me? Have you gotten him? He is the best place to help with your investigation! I am just a victim of circumstance! Oga please help me I beg you! I pleaded.
Look! Soldier boy; heaven help those who help themselves, he said; the so called Mr. Chike has run away! His Shop is closed down and empty and none of the traders are willing to disclose his where- about to the Police. We went to his house and the Land lord said he had relocated to an unknown destination! So do you want us to do? To perform magic?
Jesu Christi o! I shouted; I am done for! Oga I am dead! The only link to my freedom has run away and the Police cannot do anything about it! Ha! Oga what becomes of me sir?
You are the only Suspect available, and most likely you will bear the consequence of your crime! He said firmly.
My crime? What crime did I commit? I did not steal the Car; I did not rob or kill anybody! Oga I am not a criminal o! Please save me; I pleaded.
Buying a stolen Car is a crime in Nigeria, you are as guilty as the thief himself, even if we apprehend Chike now, you still have a case to answer because you should have investigated the source of the car you were buying, if it was a Tokunbo car you would see the Papers, if it was second hand, then you would request to see the real owner and get a transfer of ownership letter from him! You did not do either of these, because you wear Army uniform you think you are above the law! He explained.
But Oga I never knew it was a stolen Car! I never knew! I pleaded.
Ignorance of the law is not an excuse Soldier Boy! You should have investigated the source of the Car! Perhaps if you had tried registering the Car, you would have been told of the necessary documents to get especially the transfer of ownership letter, but you never did! You think you are above the law! He repeated.
A green fly buzzed in and perched on rim of the glass of water on his table, this irritated him and he stared at the fly with obvious anger, then he looked at me; did you poo on your body again? He asked.
No sir! I replied.
Did you mess? He asked.
No sir! I did not fart sir!
He slapped the fly but it flew away, monster had put his weight in the slap and the table was pushed backwards spilling the contents on it to the floor.
I hate flies! I hate flies! Especially these green ones! Or has a Rat died here again? Constable! He shouted.
A young Police Boy ran into the Office.
Get a long broom quickly! Monster commanded.
The Boy dashed out of the Office.
Monster took a newspaper from the documents that fell on the floor, he folded it into half and he began to chase the green fly about the Office.
I will kill you today! He swore under his breath as he bounced after the terrified fly, his belly drooping over his trouser as he moved, he smashed at the fly but missed again and again. The fly always moved before his thrusts get to if, he was sloppy and sluggish and this infuriated him the more.
The young Police lad came with a broom.
Kill it! Monster commanded; it must not escape o! This is not an ordinary fly o! This fly was sent from my Village! They sent it to come and poison me! It was trying to poison my drink again! Soldier boy! Did you not see that fly trying to poo something inside my cup of water? He asked.
I saw it sir! I saw it! I said.
The young Police killed the fly with one swift swoop.
Pick it up! Go and burn it! Burn it o! He warned. Enemies! They cannot get me! I will kill them all one by one! If they like let them come at me in the form of Tortoise! Or Cockroach! Old boy! Come and clean up this Office he said to the Police Lad as he went to cremate the fly. Also call me the O.C of this Soldiers case!
Yes sir! The Police lad replied as he closed the door.
Soldier Boy! He continued with me, as he dabbed his face with a dirty hand towel, he was sweating from the activity he just indulged in; he was panting and trying to catch his breath.
The family you robbed has taken the case to the Court already so you should be ready for a long legal battle. The Konwea family is a very powerful one in Asaba so you will need a very good lawyer! He said.
Oga! Where do I get a lawyer from? Where is the money? I asked
You no get family? He asked
I only have a Mother that is as poor as a Church rat! Sir, I was on my way to the Village to rescue my mother from the clutches of servitude that has held her since I was born by bringing her to stay with me in Enugu! I have even rented a Shop for her. Oga I did not know my Father! In fact my story is not a good one, all I have in this world is my mother!
What of extended family members? He asked
I simply shook my head and heaved a sad sigh. How do I explain to him that my extended family is as good as not existing, do I call on my Mother’s family? They had cut us off as lepers. My Father’s family is more wretched than me and my Mum, a family of drunks and loafers! Indeed I am an unfortunate Child in an unfortunate situation.
On the other hand, he said; the state can provide you with a lawyer, but they will need money from you so try to contact your people.
Another green fly flew into the Office and perched at the same spot the first fly perched.
Another one! Monster shouted; his eyes shot out as if to leave their sockets, he stepped backwards from the table. Soldier boy! Can you see it? That fly did not die o! It has come back!
Just then, the Constable entered the office with a dirt packer, a mop stick and a broom.
Constable! Did you burn that fly you killed here just now? Monster asked
No sir! I could not get matches so I simply threw it away
You threw what away? Did I tell you to throw it away? Did you think that was a common fly? Simple instruction you cannot follow. Look! Look! The fly is back to the same spot it came before! Monster was visibly agitated and scared.
The Constable once again killed the fly with a single swoop of the broom , as the dead fly fell to the ground, monster stepped on it and crushed it into shreds while swearing and cursing.
Oga I think a rat might have died in this office, the young constable said; I can perceive the smell of something decaying. He went to the edge of the Office and shifted a Cabinet from the wall, there; he saw a decaying rat filled with maggots.
Here it is sir! Constable said: it is a dead rat!
Oh! So na common rat? Monster asked laughing out loud.
The O.C of the case came in.
Sergeant Godwin, take your man back to his cell and prepare him for Court next tomorrow, he would need a state lawyer and he would need new clothes, he cannot go to a civil court in his Army uniform, get any of the condemned criminals clothes for him to wear.
Sergeant Godwin ushered back to my cell. That was the beginning of my long journey in incarceration.
To Be Continued