PART TWO: THE DAY I CAME FACE TO FACE WITH THE DEVIL!
By Bar. Kenneth Ikonne
My immediate concern was where to pee. With my bladder nearing bursting point, I stepped just out of the door and began to do it right there. It came out in an unceasing torrent that seemed never to end. Both Doctor Ebere and my cousin soon joined me and together, we continued to pee in utter silence.
We hadn’t even paid for the beers, but the attendants said we should just leave; they wanted to lock up. Doctor Ebere, who knew the area well – it was called Ama Wire, Orji – suggested we go and lodge a report at once at the Orji police station. But I had no dime on me; all my money was in my briefcase in the trunk of the stolen car. Nevertheless, we proceeded on foot to the station. It was only at the station that I realised I didn’t even know the registration number of my own car by rote. To make matters worse, the officers were asking me for the chassis and engine numbers as well. It meant I had to return to Lagos at once.
So, the next morning, I went straight to Nwachinemere Motors, the BMW auto dealership at Wetheral Road, where I still had a deposit for an engine wiper. Luckily, I met Nwachi, the Managing Director. I explained to him that the car all of them had gathered to admire the previous day was gone – snatched from me at gunpoint by dare – devil armed robbers. I implored him that in case he was contacted by anyone to buy a BMW car, he should be wary – it could be my car. But most importantly, I asked for a refund of my deposit to enable me fund my immediate return to Lagos to get the originals of the car papers, and access the particulars the police needed to kick – start investigations. Mercifully, Nwachi obliged me.
My mind was troubled throughout the trip back to Lagos. What was happening to me? On Christmas day of the previous year, I had also lost my other car, a Mercedes Benz, in which my younger brother, Ugochukwu, was travelling to Aba for Xmas. The car had crashed very close to the Aba tollgate.I had gone ahead in the BMW. We returned to Lagos in January only to discover that my office in Yaba had been burgled and looted. A female cousin of mine who claimed to have psychic powers explained to me that what was happening was that a spiritual danegun had been fired at all my belongings, releasing tragedy and ill luck: whichever locale I found myself in, danger would lurk, and every “area renegade” would be alerted that “food” had come! I didn’t believe her, but now, with robbers singling me out in a town in which I had barely spent a few hours, I began to cower.
These worries remained with me even after arriving my apartment in Lagos. That night, for the first time in a very long while, I bent my knees in supplication to God. I begged that if He helped me recover this car, I would turn a new leaf and become a good boy!
The next morning, I took off for Owerri, having raised some money and collected the car’s particulars, arriving Owerri at a little past 1pm, via Portharcourt Airport. I went straight to Doctor Ebere’s House. Strangely, some neighbours who knew about the car, and who had consoled us on the night of the robbery, began to rejoice upon seeing me. A particularly voluptuous young Lady, whose notice I had taken on the night of the robbery, rushed and enveloped me in an embrace. I responded by holding her even tighter. “Barrister, they have recovered your car”, she cooed. “Nwachinemere Motors came looking for Doctor Ebere this afternoon, with news that your car has been recovered at Mbano. He said you and Doctor Ebere should come and see him at his showroom once you return from Lagos”.
My joy was indescribable. I proceeded straight to see Nwachi, the boss of Nwachinemere Motors, who told me the story, as relayed to him by the visiting investigators from Mbano.The Robbers had intended to drive straight to Nnewi to sell the car, but detoured to nearby Mbano because the car was low on fuel, and it was at a time of excruciating fuel scarcity. At Mbano, they had checked into a Motel, where they shared my clothes, money and shoes, and made noisy revelry the same night. The decision was then taken that two of the robbers should go to Nnewi to scout for buyers, while the car was secured in the motel premises, its number plate having already been yanked off. Already, two sets of buyers had come and gone.
While all this was happening, an undercover policeman, whose beat was the hotel, was watching the young men, and their unregistered fancy car, with grave suspicion. Pretending to be going to pee, he walked beside the car and took a keener look. What he saw was disturbing. I had engraved the registration number of the car on its glasses immediately after purchase and registration. Now, obvious attempts had been made to scratch off the engraved numbers. The undercover policeman was sure that something was amiss, and decided to go for reinforcement. By the time reinforcement came, only the leader of the gang was in the motel room with his woman. A search of the room revealed nothing untoward. Still, they arrested him anyway, and moved both him and the car, amid his furious protestations of innocence, to their station. It was at the station that the policemen now conducted a more thorough search, and found the receipt – the one issued to BARRISTER KENNETH IKONNE by Chinemere Motors, Owerri, which I had tucked away in the pouch of the driver’s door of the BMW!
It was when the arrested robber, who had already identified himself, could not satisfactorily explain who Barrister Kenneth Ikonne was that Inspector Edward and his team of investigators decided to proceed to Nwachinemere Motors in Owerri to get clarity on the origin of the receipt – and on who the mystery Barrister Kenneth Ikonne was!
(TO BE CONCLUDED)