Authors: Adimchinma Ibe
A NIGERIAN THRILLER
THOMAS DUNNE BOOKS
TABLE OF CONTENTS
This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, organizations, and events portrayed in this novel are either products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously.
A THOMAS DUNNE BOOK FOR MINOTAUR BOOKS.
An imprint of St. Martin's Publishing Group.
TREACHERY IN THE YARD.
Copyright Â© 2010 by Adimchinma Ibe. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. For information, address St. Martin's Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10010.
Edited by Victor Schwartzman
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Ibe, Adimchinma, 1977â
Treachery in the yard : a Nigerian thriller / Adimchinma Ibe. â 1st ed.
Â Â Â Â p. cm.
Â Â 1. PoliceâNigeriaâFiction. 2. NigeriaâFiction. I. Title.
First Edition: August 2010
10Â Â Â Â 9Â Â Â Â 8Â Â Â Â 7Â Â Â Â 6Â Â Â Â 5Â Â Â Â 4Â Â Â Â 3Â Â Â Â 2Â Â Â Â 1
To the memory of my late father
I couldn't have made it this far without the help and support of so many people and friends. Obviously, my family are without a doubt the biggest and most influential supporters of mine, but there are also others who have to be mentioned who have had a big impact on my life. I'd like to thank:
Victor Schwartzman, who became an acquaintance of mine in 2005. It has been, and still is, such an amazing thrill for me to have the writer from Winnipeg edit my manuscripts purely on a voluntary basis. Thanks, mate, for all the editing, advice, and help whenever I needed it. It's been great having you to guide me and support me on this incredible journey.
My most cherished Sister Lavender Ugwa, who has been incredible with the support she has given me over the years. Dearest, you deserve a lot of the credit. Thanks for your help in getting me to this level.
My mother, Patricia Ibe, who believed in me when no one else did. When I started, you were the only one who told me I could do it. It is not a surprise to you that I did it. And my brothers, Fortune and Chinedu, for their words of encouragement along the way.
Marcia Markland, without you I wouldn't have had the opportunity to be published. Diana Szu, and now Kat Brzozowski, for supporting me throughout this entire process. And everyone at Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Press for your support.
The lead officer briefed us as we walked through the chaotic scene. Burnt pieces of furniture, blackened soot, and plaster were everywhere. Smoke billowed from the dying flames. Some medics carried the wounded and dead from the inferno while others searched for survivors.
Police from every district had been called to the scene. They were having a hard time controlling the surging crowd. They all wanted to see. The heat from the fire, combined with the heat from the sun, made the scene feel like hell itself.
The explosion destroyed Pius Okpara's garage and most of his home. Okpara was running for the statehouse. He was an important politician in the middle of an angry nomination battle to head the National Conservative Party's banner. He had initially been his party's only candidate, but then Dr. Vincent Puene came into the race, and suddenly Okpara had to deal with an opponent.
Now Okpara would have to win the party primaries. If he survived.
Okpara lived in GRA Phase IIâthe Government Reservation Area, densely populated with some of Port Harcourt's wealthiest.
Okpara's compound was large and spacious. The main building was at the far side of the only entrance into the compound. A high fence and an equally massive bulletproof iron gate painted brown protected the area. The building itself was a modern design duplex with wall-to-wall cream Italian marble. Aluminum long-span roofing sheets and wire gauze lined the top of the fencing. There was a basketball court that I bet was rarely used unless his son visited Nigeria, which rarely happened.
Here and there in the destruction were pieces of artwork, objects of aesthetic beauty and chinaware of high value. He must have a strong appreciation for the finer things in life. Only one thing was missing: a swimming pool. Perhaps he was not a good swimmer.
The bomb had been placed in the garage, and when it went off, it took with it the garage's large front door, the rooms above, and the walls. What was left of the garage was black soot and iron rods. Whoever placed the bomb took their work seriously. And the house? What was left was in flames, with firefighters from the Divisional Fire Service hosing it down. Two house staff members had been found dead already, and three who were seriously injured were on their way to the hospital. Okpara himself had apparently not been seriously injured, but of course, he was the first one rushed off in an ambulance, given his status. Mrs. Okpara had not been at home, in fact she was not even in the country. She was visiting their son, who was a police officer in England.
The neighboring buildings were not too badly damaged. The worst damage was to the home to the right of Okpara's duplex, a house owned by a retired military officer, Major Augustine Eke.
The two buildings were separated by a twelve-foot-high concrete fence. Augustine had been at the military officers' golf course and had come home five minutes after the explosion. He was lucky to have been away; his wall facing Okpara's house was riddled with shrapnel, the windows of his house blown out.
On the other side of Okpara's house was a duplex, which was set back on the far side of the garage area, so the damage was not as bad. Six windows were broken, the shattered glass crunching under us as my partner, Olufemi AdegbolaâFemi for shortâand I walked through the wreckage. It was noisy, dirty, and smoky, with the smell of dirty politics in the air.
After talking with the lead officer, I had him assign some police to canvass the area for witnesses. There were not too many policeâmost were busy organizing the crime scene and ensuring everyone had been evacuated from the damaged or destroyed homes. We all felt the bombing had been a professional job; the device had been well placed in the garage, which could not have been easy given Okpara's security.
Emergency crews were looking for other bombs, live electrical wires, anything that could be a danger. They were fine at their jobs. For Femi and myself, all we needed for the moment was an overview of what had happened, and to stand back and let the field staff do their work.
I watched Darlington Nnadozie, the officer leading the bomb squad, set up his equipment. He was a young officer in his prime. His lean frame made him look like an athlete rather than a police officer. We knew each other, though our work did not often bring us together.
Darlington was a warm, enthusiastic individual, typically very bright and full of potential. But he had one problem: He placed no importance on details in an investigation. I can become obsessed
with minor details. These details may seem to be extremely unimportant, but in reality, they can be critical. But what could I expect from a detective who only has computers and electronic gadgets to play with? He was a forensics man. He had no real contact with people.
Mostly I dealt with people who were shot, stabbed, or poisoned. Rarely were my homicides the result of an explosion. The average homicidal Nigerian could not afford to bomb anyone, and blowing someone up is very expensive and requires planning. Most murders are impulsive and done on the cheap, with whatever is at hand: a knife, a hammer, a fist. Bombs usually mean organization and advance planning and money.
I walked over as he struggled into his coveralls to start his job.
“Hello, Darlington,” I said. “Nice morning to be outside, eh?” We shook hands. “What do we have here?”
He shrugged. “Five to six more hours of hard work. Can't tell you anything worthwhile yet. Maybe you'll want to go and interview some witnesses, or drink some beer, or whatever it is you do.”
“Beer? Fine with me. Though Captain Akpan might not approve.”
“He would if you were field staff.”
“I'd rather be in my office than crawl through the rubble. I'm happier interviewing witnesses. Even when they lie a lot.”
He shrugged again. “Will you bring back a beer, at least?”
“What makes you think I'm coming back?”
He and his crew went to work. The lead officer came up to tell me his men had turned up some witnesses. One of his staff led me to the home across the street, where I met Mrs. Naomi Karibi. She was the wife of a state judge, and the mother of two teenage boys and a daughter. She had been the only one home, and described seeing a heavy-set man, over six feet tall, driving an old weatherbeaten
white Peugeot 305 away from the area after the explosion. She had seen the car a few times in the neighborhood the last few days. She deliberately stayed aware of anyone or anything suspicious in the neighborhoodâher judge husband had made his fair share of enemies.