“THE INFIDELS HAVE CONTAMINATED OUR LAND. THEY HAVE COME HERE WITH THEIR GREED AND THEY WANT TO TAKE OVER OUR RESOURCES, ALONG WITH OUR WIVES AND CHILDREN. WE CANNOT LET THIS HAPPEN. YOU SIX HAVE BEEN CHOSEN TO FULFIL THE WILL OF ALLAH AND PURGE OUR DWELLINGS OF THESE INFIDELS”
Malaud listened with a sick stomach as Imam Isa addressed them at the farm. The Imam gave him and five other workers a long sermon about those who are not of the Islam faith and how their land needed to be repossessed. Though Malaud agreed with the fact that they were almost becoming strangers in their own land, he didn’t think the measures suggested by the Imam were necessary. In fact, in his mind, they were extreme.
I have no need of 72 virgins. I am already married and I am happy. Malaud thought. He knew he couldn’t ask any questions or disagree openly as that would mean his certain death. As he listened, all that could come to his mind were the words Leona said to him before she left the farm the previous Saturday.
“Malaud! These are not just phones” She went on to explain the whole thing with Deji and how his wife had been used as leverage. She told him what the phones were capable of and she spared no detail. When she finished, Malaud was well caught up and if he was being honest, he was scared.
The weekend passed and Monday began with the suicide mission preached by Imam Isa. Whatever the case, Malaud now had the location for the attack and he had to inform Leona. He couldn’t speak for the others, but he wasn’t ready to be blown into a million pieces.
“Emeka we are going to Abuja on Thursday” Pius Anwuli spoke as though he owned Emeka. “The final papers for my takeover are to be signed”
Sir, are you okay?” Emeka asked his MD. He wasn’t looking too much like himself.
“Me? I’m just tired. I need a vacation” Pius replied.
Emeka wasn’t buying it. Even though he couldn’t place his hands on anything tangible, he knew some things had been a bit off these past few weeks. His boss had been skipping work a lot, Emeka had to pay money to a church account, and now his boss is looking like someone who knew the cure for AIDS and had been forced to keep his mouth shut. Whatever the case, Emeka was excited to be in Abuja and hopefully he would get to see Leona. He had to call her and give her the news. She didn’t answer her call so he sent a message.
“Well Done Deji” Said Segun as Deji sat with his face down in his office. After stroking her ego abit, Bola had disclosed that the phones he worked on were sent to Abuja. He had not reached Leona and she hadn’t reached him. I had no choice. I wasn’t going to let my wife and unborn child get harmed. He tried to justify his actions but it didn’t make him feel any better.
“There is one more part to this” Segun Ogundayo continued. Deji’s heart skipped a beat. “You will need to be in Abuja on Thursday to answer any questions Alhaji may have about your work. His P.A will pick you up at the airport and take you to your hotel. The rest instructions will be given to you then.”
Deji remained silent. There was nothing he could say or do. He couldn’t wait for this to end but he wasn’t sure he would be free even after it ended. He couldn’t live in fear. He had to find a way to bring these people to justice. He had to talk to Leona.
On getting home that Saturday evening, Leona decided to talk to her mother who was living her quiet life in Uyo, Akwa Ibom state.
“Momma” She said as soon as she heard the woman answer her phone. “Abadie?”
“Idara mma” came her mom’s soothing voice. “I was going to call you later today o” her mom continued.
“Really?” Said Leona. “Nsido?”
“Oh nothing much my dear.” Her mom said. “I will be in Abuja next weekend for a church conference”.
Leona rolled her eyes for a second. Her mom was catholic but she was a matron of many churches.
“Okay momma” Leona answered “Let me know when you are coming so I can prepare your room for you”.
“What church is organizing the conference” Leona asked just before her mom hung up.
“Oh it’s Conquerors’ Domain” her mom said hurriedly. “It’s going to be the biggest church event in Abuja this year”.
Leona’s hear skipped a beat. Why does this name keep coming up?
They said their farewells and ended the call but Leona did not sleep well that weekend. What made it worse was the confirmation call from Malaud on Monday afternoon. He had told her that all six of them from the farm would be stationed at different parts of the auditorium and that the place was going up in flames. Tens of thousands of people were going to die if she didn’t get that prime phone in time.
“Malaud I don’t even know if Alhaji has the phone” she said to Malaud who was obviously shaken.
“Madam how you no go know?” Malaud shot back “You see him all the time”.
“That’s just the thing” Leona said, almost in a whisper “He won’t be coming to work till Thursday or Friday”
“Where him go?” Asked Malaud.
“He said he was fasting” Answered Leona.
“Chai” Exclaimed Malaud “Na him hold that phone”.
“Why do you say that?” Leona wasn’t following.
“If he has gone fasting, then he is asking Allah for strength to do what needs to be done”. Malaud spoke hastily “We have also been asked to fast for three days before we come to Abuja” he continued “get that phone before Saturday evening abeg; I don’t want to die”.
Despite all that was on Leona’s mind, she had to keep calm. There wasn’t much she could do except wait for Alhaji to show up and grab that phone.
Finally, Thursday morning had come and Leona had to go pick Deji from the airport, Emeka was also coming into town but she didn’t concern herself with that, and her mom was going to be in Abuja the next day being Friday. Leona put on her ‘It’s going to be alright’ face as she hailed a cab to work.
Leona awaited the arrival of her MD but it didn’t happen. She needed to see that prime phone before she would completely relax. Maybe I’ll just pour water on it and claim it was a mistake She thought. I need to stop this from happening mbok. My mom is going to be at that conference they want to blow up.
Leona pondered ideas all the way till she got to the airport and didn’t even realize when Deji had been standing at her car window for almost two minutes.
“Oh hi” She said as he got in. She had a cold tone “I hope your family is safe”.
“For now” replied Deji. “My wife is back in Lagos”
“Do you think they’ll just let you off that easy?” She had to speak in a low tone so the driver won’t overhear. “And will you be able to live with yourself if these phones are activated at the Conquerors’ Domain conference?”
“Is that where they are planning to use it?” Deji was pale “It’s all over social media; that place will be packed. That conference starts tomorrow abi?”
Leona had this anger on her face “and my mom is going to be there.”
“Leo I’m sorry” Leona could feel the remorse in Deji’s voice as he spoke.
“You are getting this all wrong” Leona shot back. “You get to call me Leo when we are in a good place. Not when you’ve sentenced…” but her voice was going up. She took a deep breath.
“I have already made the mistake” Deji said “How can I fix it?”
“I don’t know Deji” Leona replied.
There was a long silence and before Deji knew it, he was being dropped off at his hotel. “Alhaji will send for you when he arrives” Leona said as the doors shut and the driver drove off.
The rest of the day passed really quickly. Alhaji had decided to pay his nephew a visit at the hotel he was staying and he insisted on holding the phone the whole time while Deji explained what needed to be explained. It wasn’t until 3pm that Alhaji Abdullahi appeared in the office. He was looking pale and stressed. As he walked past Leona, they exchanged a look Leona couldn’t explain and then he said “Come”. He didn’t stop walking.
Leona hurriedly followed him into his office where they were alone and as he sat in his chair, she immediately saw it; a phone she hadn’t seen him use before.
“You got a new phone Sir?” Leona inquired.
“You have been acting strange ever since that night Leona” Alhaji started; his eyes locked on hers.
Fuck! “What? What are you talking about Sir?” She hoped her 1-second shock hadn’t shown on her face.
“The night I came out of my office and didn’t find you at your desk” Alhaji replied. “I am not stupid. I know you know”
Leona was cold. How much exactly does he know?
“By blowing up that church, whose members are predominantly from the east, the Ibos will be too scared to remain here in the North. Export of food to the east will reduce greatly and we will become the biggest exporter. There are billions to be made Leona”
“You want to kill thousands so you can make money?” Leona didn’t know whether to be scared or angry.
“So WE can make money Leona” Alhaji corrected. “You are my favourite staff and you heard our conversation that night for a reason. The Enugu party is already here in Abuja to sign the final documents. I need you on our side.”
Leona was silent. She took another glance at the phone.
Alhaji picked the phone up. “There is nothing anyone can do to stop this” he said confidently “and you would be wise to keep your mouth shut. It would be a shame if anything were to happen to your mom while she was here”.
Leona felt a tear drop from her eye. She wanted to rip his head off right there but she couldn’t.
“I can make sure she doesn’t go for that conference” Alhaji said “I can protect her but you have to be on our side. Go home and think about it”.
Leona lingered for a second and then walked out of his office. Oh No! What am I going to do? Telling mom not to come will not work. I…
The sound of her phone ringing interrupted her thought. It was Emeka. She reluctantly picked up the phone.
“Emeka I’m not really in the” Leona started but Emeka interrupted.“Shut up and listen; My boss knows that we know of their plan”.
Leona stopped breathing and she could feel her self passing out with fear.
“Emeka you need to run before you are harmed” Leona heard herself say.
“No that’s not it” Emeka said. There was relief in his voice which Leona didn’t understand.
Emeka spoke his next words as though he knew the impact it would have on Leona.
“He says he pressed down the Intercom in the office that Night”
Leona could not believe her ears. They have known the whole time?
Emeka continued “he wants you to come to our hotel. He knows how to help us stop the bomb.”
***TO BE CONCLUDED NEXT WEEK***