My audience, comprising of the top Management of the Company, was dumb founded. Sensing that there was trouble, they had gotten in touch with the Company that was to take delivery of the money and confirmed that I had not shown up. By then, mobile phones were not readily available in Nigeria and they had no option but to wait and pray that nothing had gone wrong. I had initially assumed that everyone was concerned about my ordeal and was utterly disappointed when I realised that they were pre-occupied with the lost money.
The Lawyers took the initiative and advised that we head to the Police immediately, so investigation could commence. I rode with the Lady Lawyer and the MD’s Executive Assistant to the Police Command in Ikeja to file a petition. We were however advised that before a petition could be filed, we had to lodge a Police Report at the closest Station to the scene of the incident. We therefore headed back to Lagos Island to lodge a report at the Adeniji Adele Police Station. It was evening by the time we arrived Adeniji Adele. We were ushered into the DPO’s office and I proceeded to narrate the incident. Midway, the DPO cut in and asked for the whereabouts of the suspect. The Lawyer looked in my direction, the DPO thundered “and you have the guts to sit down in my office?”, one of the Policemen reacted with a slap that literally pulled me to my feet. The sequence of events was orchestrated with precision and in a couple of minutes, I had been ordered to strip and was being ushered into the police cell when the MD’s call came through. He was certain I wasn’t the culprit. The DPO marveled at his folly; “not with these Igbo boys”, he reasoned. The MD however, insisted that he could vouch for me and that I should not be detained. That was how I got my clothes back and was spared the misfortune of spending the night in a Nigerian Police cell. Words can’t capture the emotions I went through that night as I pondered on the events of the day. I concluded that the whole world was against me and retreated into my defensive shell.
Monday morning, armed with the police report, we went straight to the General Investigation Department (GID) of the Police in Ikeja and filed the petition. Investigations started in earnest immediately. Four of us were detailed as suspects; Myself, the Accountant, the Shop Manager and the Cashier that handled the purchase of the foreign exchange. Two Officers were assigned to the case and a vehicle was released to them by the Company to aid their work. Interrogations, torture and detention were part of the menu served. This dragged on for almost a year, as the Officers sensing the desperation of the Company devised various methods to extract more money. When the strike action was eventually called off, I was relieved to head back to school, though I still had to journey to Lagos a couple of times for more interrogations. In one instance, the Cashier had informed me of his experience and derided the Accountant who couldn’t bear the torture and confessed to the crime in a bid to distract his tormentors. It was very amusing… the Police had driven to his house to recover the loot when they realised that they had been taken on a wild goose chase. Who does that? of all places to hide stolen money, in your own house? I was not interested in any heroics and quickly devised a plan… I started to cry before I even got to the torture chamber. Those guys were mean; one threatened to use his gun if I wearied them… “police bullets are not meant for animals, we no be hunters“, he mocked. My feet and legs were bound together like crayfish and I was pulled upside down using a crude equipment. The act I put up was so real that they had to let me down in a few minutes… “make this butter no die for our hands” one said. The few minutes I spent on that contraption left me sore. The effects lingered months after, on some occasions my bones pulled out of joint. I wondered what it would have been like if I had been subjected to the full dose.
My last trip to Lagos on the case was remarkable. I had been informed that the Deputy Commissioner wanted to interview me and I was apprehensive. At this time I had become frustrated by the whole investigation, as the trips had started affecting my academics. I arrived Lagos on Friday and confirmed that I was to meet with the Commissioner on Monday. Sunday morning was an opportunity for me to listen to Pastor Chris Oyakhilome and I was in his church at Oregun Road, Ikeja early and ready for the Word. He taught on the prayer of agreement, expounding from the bible the declaration of Jesus in Matthew 18 verse 19: “Again I say unto you, that if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven“. He went on to enjoin the congregation to write down their prayer requests and bring them to the altar, so he could pray in agreement with them. I penned down my request, that God should bring an end to this case that has so tormented me. He prayed with us and declared that we would come back with testimonies. I left the church excited… that was the first time I had taken my predicament to God as I had been blaming myself all along.
Monday morning, I was ready for the meeting and faced the Commissioner with boldness. After interacting for a couple of minutes, I was amazed that he started counseling me, telling me that such challenges come at certain stages in ones life and buttressed his point with his personal experiences. He eventually said I could go and called in the Company’s representatives for a discussion. That was it, I didn’t bother to enquire of the details of their discussion, all I knew was that my ordeal was over. I packed my bags and left Lagos the next day and that was the last I heard of that case. I suffered a whole year for nothing… I could have prayed all along but I was ignorant of the fact that I could change my situation and was wallowing away in self condemnation.
Now I know better; I have come to understand that money is too flighty to command my trust. If that amount of money could disappear in a moment, then I can’t afford to repose so much confidence in money.(“Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;” – 1 Timothy 6:17 KJV. )
I have also come to the realisation that God is ever willing to help. Whatever the situation might be, He is ready to help you out of it.(“If you will only let me help you, if you will only obey, then I will make you rich!” – Isaiah 1:19 Living Bible. )
That is my story.