Read the previous episodes of the Eko Heist series HERE.
Eghosa was handcuffed to the desk in a dark interrogation room. He had woken up there after yet another blackout. Alone and feeling betrayed by his own mind, he was terrified. He screamed but no one answered. No one came. He tugged hard at the cuffs till they started to bite at his flesh but they wouldn’t come undone. The room was stuffy, his nostrils clogged with the smell of cheap cleaning products. His mind was racing and his heart thumping. He had never been good at staying in enclosed spaces.
Just then, the door was thrown open, the light sweeping in. Gogo, the Investigating Police Officer that Chief Tom George had specially requested for, walked in. He turned on the single bulb dangling above the table, pulled out the chair opposite Eghosa, and sat.
With a deadpan look, he asked, “Eghosa, what do you know about the robbery at Chief Tom George’s house on Friday?”
Eghosa was going through the beginning stages of a panic attack. He felt like the room was swallowing him up, could barely breathe. Sweat poured down his forehead in streams. The I.P.O chucked it up to normal delinquent behaviour and dismissed it.
“I-I need to leave here,” Eghosa said, his breathing forced.
“You’re not going anywhere until I hear what happened,” Gogo replied flatly.
“My ch-chest,” he sputtered, gripping his chest and writhing in pain.
Gogo was going to need more than this to be convinced to let up. He had been privy to many Oscar-worthy performances in the line of duty and so Eghosa’s panic attack was not nearly enough to move him. He reclined in the seat and waited a few seconds for Eghosa to tire of his dramatics and start speaking.
“Look Eghosa, I know your speciality is online fraud so I don’t even like you for this. I think you had help. Your history doesn’t show you know anything about opening complex vaults. The kingpin of non-violent crimes is more your speed, so as much as I’d like to jail someone, I want everyone to carry their own load. So just tell me, who opened the safe?” He caught Eghosa stealing a glance at him in between his gasps for air.
“I know tight spaces aren’t good for claustrophobic people, so as soon as you tell me what I need to know, you’ll be off to a much roomier holding cell.”
Eghosa looked at him disappointedly. He had secretly hoped the deal would be, “Tell us who was behind it and you can walk.”
“Well, obviously you’re not going home. Even if all you did with your guy Frankie was hold torchlight for him to cross the gate, do you know how long we’ve been after you and your yahoo friends?” Gogo chuckled and murmured, “Thief wey dey fear other thieves.”
“It was Odinaka.” Eghosa said under his breath.
“Odinaka opened the safe.”
Gogo pulled out his pen and jotter. “Yeah, who is Odinaka?”
Ngozi sat in the dingy interrogation room of Oniru Police Station. It felt like she had been sitting there for days. There was no way to tell what the time was. The windows had been filled in, giving no room for sunlight to seep in. Even her jewellery had been seized. All she had for company were the noisy, dusty fan, the yellow bulb and the rusty iron table before her.
The place must have been furnished with the intent of getting confessions. It gave you the impression that unless you told the truth, this would be the sum of your life for the next few years. Dust, rust and solitude.
Just then, the metal bolts on the door creaked and the door came flying open. It was the policeman from earlier, Inspector Garba, and another robust plainly clothed man with a notepad.
Deliberately pulling out the metal seat so it would scrape the floor, the robust one said, “Ngozi Oriaku, it’s confession time.”
She waited for the policeman to put on the recorder and then she started to talk.
“Look, I don’t know why I’m here. I already told you I didn’t do anything. I was in my house all through Friday night. The gateman can verify. I don’t know what Eghosa has been up to.” She said. Her voice broke halfway through.
“You know, being I.P.O, I’ve seen many actors come through this place. But you ehn, you’re something special. You’ve just been in the background working these men and they’ve been prancing around thinking they’re the ones making things happen. As in, forget Mother Nature, na you be the real Mama!” Gogo said.
Ngozi looked at him like she had no idea what he was saying. Gogo waited a few more seconds and opened the file in front of him.
“Maybe, you need some motivation to talk. Let me make it clear that we don’t particularly need your testimony. We have everything we need to build you a prison for yourself because you don’t commit crimes, you engineer them, and so you’re a virus to be contained.”
“Excuse me, Don’t talk to me like that. I’ve been – ” Ngozi interjected, employing the use of one of her many accents.
“Will you shut up, woman! ” Garba barked, quieting her instantly. Gogo regarded her quietly as he arranged the papers in the file, ready to show her all the odds stacked against her lies.
“So first, we spoke to Frankie. He just mentioned in passing how you had called him the day after he and Eghosa had agreed to go on with the heist. We were curious as to why and so he told us about the hour long conversation you had with him and how you suggested Kunle the getaway driver and even told him how to share the responsibilities between himself and Eghosa, because you knew Eghosa could handle the safe.”
Ngozi reclined on the seat. Her expression deadpan as she listened to Officer Gogo.
“Ahh. I even forgot to add. We got in touch with your friend, Nkem. With some liquid enhancements, she was very happy to blab about how you basically got Eghosa to propose to you, but of course, that’s not a crime. E just dey make the gist sweet.” He turned to Garba as they laughed.
“Yes, so during the course of this interesting investigation, we also had the pleasure of meeting Odinaka.”
Ngozi’s eyes darted here and there. She was beginning to feel like they had clamped down on her.
“We got someone to examine Eghosa and found out that true to his claims, he had a severe case of dissociative identity disorder. Odinaka is the radically violent personality that emerges when Eghosa has to face a situation he feels is bigger than he is. Odinaka can remember what has happened even when he is dormant but Eghosa has difficulty remembering what happened during the period he is Odinaka. You found out about this and you took advantage of it. You milked Eghosa’s conscience making him feel he had hurt you as Odinaka so he would do your bidding and then you figured out how to control Odinaka as well!”
“So she was getting two men for the price of one?” Garba asked.
“Yes! Or am I wrong, Ngozi?” Gogo queried. Ngozi stared at him, no guilt or remorse to be found in her features.
“She got Odinaka to manifest one night and got all the information about the heist from him, then she had him make some adjustments. He would not switch back to Eghosa throughout the heist because she knew Eghosa would be too gentle and not get out as much money. Then she made alternative exit plans so they would not have to share the loot with anyone else.”
Ngozi was not as good at controlling her expressions as she was with other things. She let her shock as to the extent of his knowledge show for a second.
“Oh, you’re surprised I know so much.” He asked, bemused. ” You’re not the only one Odinaka can talk to, my dear.”
“So anything to add, before we consider this closed?” Garba asked. He couldn’t hide his admiration for her cunning.
With her hands folded across her midriff and her face brimming with unrepentance, she said, “I want my lawyer.”
Photo Credit: Dreamstime