THORNS IN MY BOOT 15

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15

The Garri and Groundnut that I bought did not last for three days! I sold it all off. The Warder Oga Inside was my middle man; he ran errands for the inmates as long as he gets paid his stipend. The news that a certain Ojo in ATL has Garri and Groundnut went viral and I ran out of stock by the third day and I realized three hundred percent profit after settling my agent, Oga inside! Inside! He asked if I wanted to replenish my stock and I said yes so we negotiated and I paid him his commission and by mid night on the third day, he smuggled in a fifty kilogram of Garri and five bottles of ground nut into our cell for me and this time he included four packs of Santana water proof nylon bags into which I measured a cup of Garri and tied it for easy and handy sale, I also tore the nylon bags and tied up the groundnuts for sale. The demand grew and wallet grew too that by April I could afford a Lawyer.

A young female Lawyer had come to visit her client and on her way back, Oga Inside told her about my need for a legal representative, she agreed to see me instantly and Oga Inside arranged our meeting. I told her my story but she said she would make up her mind only after hearing my case and to know the quality of evidence against me. She said she would represent me free of charge on April twentieth as scheduled and only after then can we discuss business.

On April twentieth we were in court and I was represented by Barrister Amaka Dike, the daughter of a senior advocate of Nigeria and a Magistrate Court Judge in Abuja. During the hearing of my case which lacked substantial evidence, she requested for more time to fully investigate the case and she requested for the presence of the prosecutor and the O.C of the case by our next hearing which was later adjourned till September sixth.

Barrister Amaka then bombarded me with barrage of questions, both relevant and irrelevant questions, she wrote exhaustively as I answered her questions. She then agreed to take up my case and we agreed on her professional consulting fees which I paid up instantly. I then gave her the story of my life and told her of my concern for my mother in the Village, I told her of the money I have in the Bank and my property in my house which I believed the Army would have moved to the Store and reallocate my house. I told her the key to my house is my travelling bag that was in the Custody of the Abakaliki Prisons authority. All said and done, she drove in her Car to the Prison later in the day and requested for my keys from the Warders which they gave it to her with my authorization.

On her way out she came to bide me fair well, I knelt down and begged her, I told her again of how I was born and the travails that had being lot from birth, I told her every detail about how my mother survives and my fear for her health now that she has not heard from me in almost two years. Barrister Amaka could not but cry with me when I became emotional while telling her my story and my plea for assistance. She left that day April twentieth and promised to be at Court on the sixth of September

My confidence level rose in the prison as I could pull some strings now and I joined the group of Prisoners that were released from their Cells at night stretch their legs by walking about the Prison premises or converging under shadows to smoke Indian hemp and drink beer purchased for us by our errand Boys, the Warders.

Sometimes Girls, especially prostitutes are sneaked into the Prison Yard on our request for a quickie or two. I have witnessed a scenario where nine of us had quickies with a single Girl in turns. We all paid her as agreed and at the end of the Fun she walked out normally chewing gum as if nothing had happened, but her purse was fatter than when she came. Of course she will settle her love-vendor, the Warder that brought her in and those at the gate too.

Indian hemp was smuggled in and sold to us by the Warders at twice the price , a couple of times Oga Inside had helped me to buy Parcels of Indian hemp which I re wrapped and sold at fantastic profit, but it was too risky so I simply focused on my Garri and Groundnut business. I became a creditor to many inmates as I lent many of them money when they are desperately in need. Would you believe if I tell you that some prisoners are actually escorted to their homes at night and returned to Prison before dawn? It happens so long as cash is concerned, there was a man that had been in prison for twelve years and during this period, his wife had three children for him, his biological Children I mean!
The Prison medical Doctor visits on Mondays and Fridays only, the nurses are the ones readily available to attend to emergencies and there were always emergencies especially from the C.C Cell.

The condemned criminal Cell was like a den of Lions, even the Warders were scared of the inmates and seldom interfere when they fight, severally dead bodies had been carried out of the CC Cell due to strangulation or bursting someone’s head on the Brick wall. Many times they rushed a new inmate to the clinic as a result of tears and bruises to the anus due to forceful penetration by Rapists in the C.C cell. The irony of it all is that the Patients are returned to the same Cell after treatment only to meet the same treatment that led them to the Hospital. It was common to hear screams and cries from the C.C cell especially in the dead of the night. For those of on ATL, the fear of the condemned Criminals Cell was the beginning of wisdom.

I was somehow comfortable now in Prison because I was making enough money to see me through, it was just by a stroke of luck that I decided to buy Garri and groundnut with the money I realized when we went to court in February, if I had not bought the Garri, I would have spent the money somehow.

I kept the profits realized from my sales with Oga Inside, though I knew it was risky but at least it can be traced to him rather than keeping money in the Cell where not less than fifty persons inhabit at every point in time. Whenever I lay hands on my Cheque book, I would retrieve my account number from where I wrote it and then transfer my money from Oga Inside to the bank and subsequent profits will be sent straight to the bank through any warder. I wished I had opened an account for my Mother when I went to the Village, at least I could transfer some money into her account from Prison here, but how was I to know that I would be here now?

September sixth came very quickly and we went to Court for my case hearing. My file was the first to be presented for hearing because my Lawyer, Barrister Amaka Dike, the daughter of a SAN was in Court.

The state prosecuting Lawyer was present, Sergeant Godwin was present but the Konwea family was not represented; I was later to know that they refused to honour the Court summons because they suspected a foul play and they had vowed to institute a legal action against the Nigeria Police. They said the Police had informed the Family that I had been sentenced to jail for life so how come they were being invited to Court for the hearing of a case that was presumed closed? Even Sergeant Godwin had decline coming to Abakaliki but for the insistence of barrister Amaka. The case was further adjourned to February 1994 to allow for further investigation. The Judge accused the Police of gross incompetence and lackluster attitude in carrying out their duties; the Judge was impressed with the submissions of my Lawyer which were
-Mr. Chike is from Ibagwa Nike in Enugu state and his family house is known

-Mr. Chike’s Wife and three Kids live in his Village house in Ibagwa
-Mr. Chike has relocated to Yaoundé in Cameroon and is trading on Motor Spare parts and accessories
-Mr. Chike still sneaks into Nigeria to do business and to see his Family
-Mr. Chike is being monitored by the Interpol of both countries
-the Nigerian Police will make arrest once Chike steps into the Country.

After the Court session, I was so elated that I hugged my Lawyer passionately and thanked her immensely; at last there was a sign of hope in my seemingly hopeless situation.
That was not all, she sat me down and gave me more details of her activities since we parted ways in April.

She went to the Barracks to meet Colonel Asemota my Commanding Officer but was told that he had been transferred to Lagos and replace by another Colonel Garba. She had introduced herself and explained her mission. The quarter master was instructed to take her to the Store where my properties were kept as my house had been reallocated to another Soldier. She searched and found my Cheque book. I jumped and hugged her again. She just laughed but her eyes did not spark as she laughed which means either she does not me hugging her or she wasn’t just in the right mood to share my joy so I cautioned myself to restrain from hugging her.

How can I pay you for all your efforts? I asked her you have single handedly done what the Nigeria Police could not do! How did you dig up all these facts about Mr. Chike? How? I demanded.

It’s my job Ojo! It’s my job! She said as she tried to force a smile, but her eyes betrayed her. No spark.

Ha! May God almighty bless you my Sister! I said as she removed my Cheque book from her Purse and handed to me. My Mother! I need to send money to her! I said.

Then she quietly said something that sounded like “I went to Esa-odo”

You say what? I asked aloud

I saw your Mother! She said

Mama! You saw my mother? I asked nervously searching her face as she tried to hide her emotions.

Yes! I went to Esa-Odo, I saw your uncle Baba Miko and I saw your mother. Your mother is sick, she is very very sick; I interrupted her.

How do you mean? What do you mean very very sick? Please talk to me! I begged on my knees, I was scared.

When your mother waited for one year and she did not see you or hear from you, she came to Enugu to look for you in company of Baba Miko. They went to the Army barracks and were eventually directed to your Unit. On getting to your unit, they met a group of Soldiers discussing under a Mango tree and they asked about you. The Soldiers told them different versions of how you were involved in armed robbery and your eventual execution by the Police. Your mother lost her mind instantly! Baba Miko took her back to the Village and since then she has not come to her senses. She carries a Picture of you in Army uniform with her every where she goes now, she would sit and stare at the Picture for over one hour then she would stand up and stare at a distance smiling and whispering your name as if she is seeing you. I tried to talk to her, I told her you were alive and okay, I told her you sent me to her but she just gaze at me as I spoke, it was as if I was not there talking to her. I spent two days in your Village, I lodged at a Hotel in Ijebu Jesha, a town close to your Village and the next day Baba Miko and I took her to Ilesha Psychiatric hospital.

That was the much I could remember as I lay on the bed at the teaching Hospital recuperating, I was on drip. I was told by the nurses that I was rushed in from the Court the day before. My Mother had gone mad.

To Be Continued

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