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Home  ›  Suspense/Thriller  ›  Classified
by Oboh Aghogho   (Author)
Read First Three Chapters

Chapter one

October 18th, 2007

Today appears the most appropriate time to begin this task of putting in proper perspective these events which I believe in no small measure will shape my life and also of several others, connected directly or indirectly with these events. He wrote in deliberate long strokes, paused a while and then continued. Above all the most evident gain will be that a written testament exists that will convince all including me of the inevitability of all that is bound to take place in the next twenty four hours. John paused, his long fingers wrapped around a pen; frozen he looked outside the windows. One thing was certain; nothing could remain the same after tomorrow. He shut the hard back diary peering through the windows as a sizable herd of cows shepherded by three Fulani herdsmen moved about noisily beneath his flat, the smell of husbandry was about unsettling the semi polluted air. He shook his head in disgust his shack was gradually developing into a slum
The late harmattan dry wind was just beginning to settle in, starting the villainous process of dust gathering on rooftops and furniture of millions of residents residing in Nigeria’s commercial nerve centre, Lagos. It was however a big relief to several others who had drenched away for several months in torturous humid conditions. Lagos for its entire commercial buzz was dying a slow and painful death. The last decade it had become more famous for its unending piles of uncollected garbage and arbitrary waste dumpsites. Some cynics even jokingly referred to it as the nation’s waste capital to the chagrin of the state authorities. The local government authorities were never out of ideas in curing the state’s towns of its environmental malaise. But things had only gone progressively downhill. A couple of years back several residents had rushed to purchase waste bins and bags in response to a deluge of advertisements by private waste collectors. They had sounded very convincing. John silently mused; his was stolen less than 24 hours after it was placed it in front of his house- by you guess who, the suppliers, to be recycled and bought by another set of subscribers. His only relief was that he didn’t have to make some monthly payments to a thieving collector who never showed up. His neighbours eventually learnt the hard way.
Ten years ago, John Onavafe Onoriode born to Kurumo Onoriode and Angela Onoriode took his first faltering steps into this crazed world called journalism. Like a séance, he remembered the employment interview like his first kiss-it was the baptism of fire. Four pairs of eyes had stared hard at him or rather, stared him down. His eyes had wandered rather furtively around the impressive looking room. It was richly decorated in the colours of the Sahel savannah. In one corner of the room some well chiselled West and South African sculptures hung conspicuously. They looked pretty imposing. Over to the left side of the room, was a rather intriguing painting. It was one he was familiar with. It portrayed a very excited youth beating on a local drum. It wasn’t just the brilliance of the art piece but its simplicity. The youth had white shorts on with sweat streaming down his lean muscular frame. At the background a large village crowd danced on rapturously in the village square. He was brought out of his reverie by Lazarus Okoye, who introduced himself as the head of the interview panel and also the broadcast company. He had seen him a couple of times on television. He was a politician and a very shrewd one. His eyes never left the media mogul throughout the interview session. He held a glass of water in his right hand; slowly he put it down carefully on a dark mahogany office desk. With his fingers still clutching the glass and his gaze fixed on its contents, he asked
“Why are you here?” the several hours John had spent in the confines of his room couldn’t have provided him with a better opportunity to flaunt his virgin super-charged confidence. In a voice that could hardly been placed as his, he stuttered, and said something that was only half audible, far less intelligible. The next question by Charles Gigi, the head of presentation showed just how far he had fared with the boss’ question. He spoke with a faint British accent; he asked if John had ever experienced difficulty talking. This time, he preferred threading the safe margin; nodding his head vigorously from side to side. Well the rest now is history. In a moment of rare maverick, John threw the entire bunch of eggheads a challenge that he could mention all the past winners of the FIFA world cup. He did and for good measure decided to make a prediction on the next champion. No one was willing to put a stake on him for that. He picked up his appointment letter on the first of December, two weeks after; he married his heartthrob, Wendy. The following week they celebrated Christmas hand in arms at a seaside resort in Accra, Ghana. The owners called it ‘One Africa’. The night they arrived, they lazed by the seashore, danced to Harry Belafonte’s “jumping in the line” and dinner consisted mainly of sea animals which John preferred dead rather than alive. “Now you see why I have a special fondness for December” He told Wendy on their first wedding anniversary.

Chapter two

When the British posted some of its high ranking officers in the early twentieth century to Lagos, they decided to build structures similar to what existed in Britain. So roads, schools, hospitals and offices shared similar designs to what was obtainable in oxford, Manchester, London et al. But when Nigeria gained its independence in 1960, the colonialists left. However their fairy tale like buildings remained. Yaba town is perhaps is one of the major beneficiaries of the Britons’ magnanimity. The central government puts the town’s population at a little over a million but the state government’s estimate is double that of the central authority. However what is not in dispute is the level of infrastructural decay of most of the buildings. Yaba however was a haven compared to some other towns. Most buildings predate to the 1930’s and 1940’s- the town’s golden age. John and Wendy were fortunate to occupy a more recently built house, his landlord Tony Olajide was considered to be a shark in the neighbourhood. An only surviving son of an indigene, he was one of the fortunate beneficiaries of the central government’s goodwill and was granted a scholarship to study in the eastern bloc. A classic Marxist proselytizer, everyone was expected to follow kowtow when Karl Marx Olajide spoke. John was no exception, in two years he had learned that to obey was better than sacrifice. Thankfully Olajide had failed to add any more floors to his storey building unlike in the adjoining Adekunle Street where the two buildings he owned had been transmuted from a storey to four storeys. But his was communist and claimed the overall goal was genuine and charitable;
“I’m meeting dire housing needs” he regularly announced to anyone who cared to listen. A storey building equals three co-tenants; two rather quiet families live on the ground floor. It was the usual ‘good morning’, ‘how’s the weather’, ‘what’s on the paper’ that brought the tenants together. The monthly tenant’s meeting nonetheless provided the platform for light conversation. Everyone was usually united in the central discussion of the day which was never too far from the landlord’s threat to increase rents and that was that. On the top floor, was Akpor; John’s brother or rather kinsman from the Niger Delta. Both men struck a good partnership; cordial and tight bonded. One time they even sparred; scouting for babes at the University of Lagos close by, though with less than considerable success. Their salaries combined with little savings on the side allowed for little extra budgetary expenses, besides John was just thinking of settling down with Wendy, which was his least cost approach to survival. When he made the proposal to Wendy, Akpor had acted as his standard bearer. Now he was relegated some rungs down on the scale of preference. He applauded the development referring to it as a sagacious shift knowing that the visits to the university were beginning to cut heavily into his meagre finances. But once in a while for old time sake Wendy and John still stopped by at Akpor’s for a drink
The silver coated wall clock over the television set clang once. It was 9 ‘0 clock. John flipped through a dozen channels looking for nothing of particular interest. That bothersome device which has come to invade modern man’s privacy and arguably the leading cause of broken homes, high blood pressure and ultimately death decided to make its presence known. The nokia mobile rang aloud. It was Wendy she’d arrived safely at her mum’s place in Calabar where she’d been spending the yuletide. John was expected to join up before the end of the week. He had committed himself to the trip only orally, moving his feet was a different ball game. The appeal of a work-free vacation in Calabar hadn’t foisted its fangs on him yet
“Darling you know mum who love it if we all attended the carnivals, she’s been planning for it the entire year” Wendy’s voiced raced along at an exciting tempo. The colourful Christmas lights, beautifully decorated trees and the gaiety of the town at Christmas came to John like a montage. He had been at the mercurial obudu cattle ranch settlement some years back during an educational excursion. The experience was purely sublime. If not for this crazy job, he should be there enjoying and loving every passing moment with Wendy. He hugged the mobile phone close to his ear trying to give some physical presence to her sultry voice, thousands of miles away.
“I love you John, can’t you please shut down everything and come down here. It’s really lovely and I’m missing you every passing moment”.
“Same here honey, can’t wait till I see you again honey”. He replied in a bid to recapture the last moment he saw her at the airport. It was only a few hours back and it seemed like a century. A loud bang coincided with the dropped call. He rushed toward the window overlooking his street. There were several hurried steps, a loud wailing scream and more shouts. The shouts would continue far into the night. Like the curious cat, he was out his flat in a flash. He checked in on his neighbour, Akpor, but he was out perhaps on one of his several hunting missions. Five minutes later he made a frantic call to his boss, the emperor. Two buildings had gone under on Adekunle Street. He needed a cameraman and a getaway driver. A cameraman he was willing to let go, but a vehicle not in hell’s chance. Adekunle Street was the next street to Carter where John lived. Everything decent that Anthony Carter Street stood for was the contrary of Adekunle, from decrepit living standards to being the scene where most of the heinous crimes in the state occurred. There were more criminals than mortals’ living in its more than hundred homes, and this was the gospel truth. In Adekunle no one was accountable to anyone; five years ago the street’s landlords had hired several thugs to collect some ambiguous levy from their tenants. The tenants resisted and hired a local security outfit to confront the thugs. The final outcome was bedlam. The security outfit reneged on its protection pact with the tenants; once they fled the thugs took possession of the flats. The landlords’ were ecstatic. However their joy was only fleeting because their unruly friends overstayed their welcome. They recapitulated and made their temporary abode their residence for two years. Eventually the landlords reconciled with the tenants and together they took problems to God. God in this instance wasn’t the sovereign one but a former chairman of Yaba local government. His remedies weren’t also without hiccups but the good news was that when he spoke everyone listened. He made the thugs pay fifty percent rentals for the two years they had occupied the flats. He scored an additional one when he ensure the thugs also hurled ass out of 150 flats representing nearly fifty percent of the disputed housing. So half of the displaced tenants regained their flats the reminder your guess is as good as mine. The majority of the tenants had however learned a bitter lesson. Most had become homeless. The landlords licked their wounds and once again were happy to assert their ownership of the buildings. So for five years this insane contraption called Adekunle Street existed; thugs and tenants; neighbours abiding in close fellowship. It had become the stuff myths and legends were made off. An hour ago John was unanimous he wouldn’t have been tempted by even a go at the Pulitzer to venture into Adekunle’s den of savages.

Chapter Three

Thick black smoke billowed from the rooftop of a three storey building. Besides the burning building was an enormous pile of broken bricks, shattered glasses and pieces of splintered wood scattered here and there. A good number of crushed vehicles for good measure portrayed the first apocalyptic scenes witnessed by John on Adekunle Street. A mammoth crowd was beginning to form around the debris. Surprisingly in the midst of the chaos, the electricity company had left the power on. Though the street was poorly lit the crowd’s stood roughly at two hundred. As the night wore on, that number was bound to double.
He glanced at his watch; it was approaching 9.30p.m. Maybe another thirty minutes before the cameraman showed up. He made for his left side pocket to retrieve a Sony camcorder. The early shots were vital for this story. Quality of visuals wasn’t debatable; after all it was his head out on the fries. He slot in a new tape and began rolling. Though the street was less frantic now than when he stepped into it a short while ago, it still looked very unpredictable and volatile. If the rule of thumb was not to spend more than thirty seconds on a particular spot while filming disaster scenes,
Adekunle would be ten seconds everyone one now and then. Fierce and evil looking men lurked around every corner, the smell of Indian hemp was pervasive it seemed every eye followed him-John sensed the early signs of paranoia. A crowd of about fifty gathered very close to the rubble. A scraggy looking man was speaking at a frenetic pace in vernacular, obviously given a firsthand account of the incident.
“I jumped through a window on the second floor” he said
“A part of the ceiling gave way first, next thing I knew I was flying through the window, its God! It’s God! I tell you my people”
The eye witness continued speaking but John had recorded all that he needed. A group of women were screaming at the top of their voices. Some had their hands on their heads while others stared in disbelief, still trying to fathom the tragedy that had befallen them. Still others just lay on the ground, many of them with varying degrees of injury forming a very pitiable sight. One man perhaps in his middle ages just sat on the dusty street weeping profusely. He was inconsolable. John pushed the video recording camera back into his pocket and walked up to him. He put his arms about him trying to get him to his feet. The sobbing man shook his head, barely audibly saying
“It is finished. My wife and four children are buried deep in the rubble where do I start from”.
John looked at him pitiably; he had no answer for him so he sat on the floor next to him waiting for God knows what. The fire was still raging fiercely in the third building. The fire service had not yet shown up which was not unusual. A tap on John’s back indicated just how perked up he was, as he shot through the air. “Whazzup man you got your hackles up”. Kelvin nudged John again. John pumped sweaty palms and hugged CITV’s veteran cameraman.
“Damn it” he cursed
“I forgot to get the kliegs. Anyway we’ll make do with what we have it’s not like it’s the runway bru. John pulled him quickly over and rapped into his ears.
“This isn’t your run of the mill soap opera. Here you speak only when you are spoken to. Otherwise you could get a dose of beating. Now let’s get on the prowl”.
He cussed and tagged behind John who drew him in closer
“Hey man there’s no heroics here. We stick together or you walk alone.” John read out the riot act
Kevin began as a camera assistant about fifteen years ago at the national television network. But through the years sheer doggedness and a number of lucky skirmishes with government usually hostile forces and dogs had earned him a few trophies and ladies. It was no secret that he had a weakness for women. He was forty years old, one wife, five children and still counting. The remaining five were outside his marriage, three of the children his buxom wife, Abigail, knew of. The last two girls he had kept as his little secret. He reiterated time and again that he was a responsible father because he was up to date with the bills on the table and no one ever complained. Kelvin tossed aside the remainder of the cigarette he’d been puffing hard at, brushed his palms briskly along the rough outline of his beige pants and then began to shoot. The truth was that John preferred Kelvin a million times to the others. He worked with little supervision and was a darling though sometimes he could be a jerk. In the beginning he had been rather unfortunate to work with some rather peculiar characters. The end was better forgotten than imagined. Sirens blared in the not too far distance. The fire-fighters were here, better late than never. John prayed that they had come with water; any amount will suffice in preventing a likely mob attack from the increasingly agitating crowd. Fleet footed Kelvin moved towards the entrance of Adekunle Street as the firemen made their entry. The firemen numbered probably between twenty and thirty. Two heavy set men grabbed the metal fire ladder positioning it about ten meters from the burning building. Its entire top floor was now brightly lit in red flames.
“You know that building could still go down, I do not think the fighters should be getting too close”
Kelvin said to no one in particular. For the next thirty minutes, the fire-fighters put up a valiant fight to put out the raging inferno. The crowd had continued to increase and press forward. There was no ticker tape; the police had yet to make an appearance. It was 11p.m. but no one missed the men in black, they had been off Adekunle for almost half a decade. The leader of the firemen left a group of his colleagues idling away at the left side of the burning building. Apparently he needed to make a call. Alabi Olawole parades himself as the redeemer and spokesperson of the thugs that reside on Adekunle. He was probably in his early thirties and loved to wear his dreadlocks short. Everyone called him the wise one. At a little over 6 feet he is what you’d call a fine specimen of a man, could have done well in the army John reasoned.
He swaggered towards the fire-fighter, instinctively John smelt trouble. Kelvin must have sensed it too because he lowered his camera. The wise one spoke in vernacular, a voice brash enough to raise the hair on everyone’s arms on end.
“When are you going to begin rescue operations, you and your guys think this is all a joke… I have friends, relatives and properties; I do not want to start mentioning, trapped and perhaps lost in the rubble”
M. Okon, the firemen was unfortunate to be the target of the wise one tirade was unimpressed with the street urchin’s breeding. He turned away from him preferring rather to show-off the back of his orange fire jacket. Like a skilled potter the wise one spun him around using his jacket’s collar as a pivot. The fire-fighter didn’t think this was funny; he pushed hard at the intruder, maybe a grave mistake. Kelvin thought he could have stood a better chance if he hadn’t turned his back on the wise one after the leading push. One moment Okon was hoisted high and above in the air, the next moment he was hugging mother earth, to coin a popular Latin phrase, der aspe per aspera; from the mud to the stars. Only that this was the reverse. But worse was still to happen the crowd which had been restive all along suddenly wanted some piece of the action, seeing that the fire-fighters were the only ones that were out of place on the street. The mob turned against them. John and Kelvin withdrew into a dark corner concealed from exposure under the branches of a fig tree. The chase was now on, although much skewed in one direction. The fire-fighters were outnumbered by more than twenty to one. The chase ended almost before it started as loud sirens wailed ahead. The sirens coming from the north end of the street forced the street urchins to beat a hasty retreat. Three loud shots followed through in quick succession.
“Everyone down a loud voice thundered”.
“Hail the police arrive finally to save the day. Three hearty cheers”
Kelvin threw John a mock salute but he was far from bemused. John checked his upper and lower trunk to be sure he hadn’t been struck by a stray bullet. A friend had once said to him years ago that hearing the shot fired was a confirmation that you were still breathing. John had shaken his in disbelief. His friend added rather morbidly, ‘life travels than faster than sound’.
Kelvin raced towards the apprehended group, and John followed in pursuit. No doubt about it, his presence was an absolute relief. John couldn’t begin to imagine how he would have soaked it in all alone.
“Stop there or I’ll shoot, and who are you”
John jumped quickly in front of Kelvin and flashed the almighty press ID in front of the stern looking policeman. He was short and burly with over a dozen stress lines crisscrossing his forehead; clean shaven with a flat nose and nostrils equipped to take in as much oxygen as possible. His finest features were his glistening white teeth which shone even in the poorly lit street. But then it was of much insignificance because his overall facial profile did him great injustice. Inspector Nnamdi Okoro was not a pretty sight especially on Christmas Eve.
“My friend you do not record anything unless I order you to, from now on you’ll only video when and what I ask you to…now let me have that camera”.
Kelvin towered over the high and mighty Inspector by almost a foot. His past experiences with security operatives had toughened him up. He looked past inspector okoro and let out a long guffaw.
“Look here inspector you do not scare me one bit, do your job and we’ll do our job but don’t get in our way. Otherwise...”
Kelvin left his threat unfinished.
“Are you threatening the inspector?” One of his deputies rose to okoro’s defence, swiftly he let out a long burst of gunfire from his AK47 rifle. Its barrel was aimed skywards.
“We are in control here you are only allowed to do what we ask you to do”. The clearly peaked policeman spoke in a no nonsense manner. John unsuccessfully tried cocking an eyebrow, he was clearly in jitters
“No problem sir. Just don’t do anything stupid that could give the hawks something to hang you on tomorrow, remember Christmas is just a few hours away”. John smiled and turned away from the group of astonished policemen. Fortunately their paths wouldn’t cross anymore that night. The police secured the wreckage site but still couldn’t prevent the people from digging into the rubbles. He did a couple of more interviews and then was bored. Eventually he joined the crowd of untutored and even worse still the most depressed set of workers on Christmas day to search for survivors. It was a daunting and heart wrenching exercise. Dismembered body parts were all he could recover in over two hours of toil, not a single whole body. Dust filled eyes and a trickle of tears were his social gratification. Even the hardest of mortals would have been humbled at the first sight of the gory Adekunle Street. The mendacious looking Inspector Okoro even spared some time to join in the search. No one was exactly sure what his motivation was perhaps he was just doing penance for his multitude of sins. At 3a.m John joined Kelvin on a make shift sleeping shack which was a rather large displaced concrete slab. He hadn’t bothered to clean it up. That was the least of anyone’s major concerns here. He thought of Wendy as he lay on the slab looking skywards. Too depressed to make any phone call he wondered how odd it would sound wishing anyone a merry Christmas. Most certainly there wouldn’t be a party here for a long while. Three hours later he woke up feeling like he had just been run over by a heavy duty vehicle. His limbs ached badly and his stung peppery darts. He had never been a model athlete, preferred to talk the walk. John wondered regretfully, he could have risked the five minutes’ walk back to his street and home. His bed would have been a fabulous relief. He rubbed his eyelids to clear the morning crust. The harmattan dry wind was beginning to bring in the cold just slightly but it was doubtful if anyone bothered about it; the heat from the ashes from last night’s inferno were more real. Though the fire had been put out, large pockets of black smoke still filled the air. John looked up, and ahead he recognised the man he had tried comforting last night on top of the heap of rubbles. He painted the picture of a forlorn figure; he was bent almost double oblivious to everything around him as he continued to scoop bricks from the heap without any gloves. John was in a quandary between joining him and heading back to my house. Suddenly two men approached the other side of the half burnt building. Most people lay in haphazardly constructed minimal shelter, asleep or wandering aimlessly about the street. Truth was that nobody cared. Even if the president had stepped in right about then, it wouldn’t have made a damn difference. Both men hurriedly pasted two sheets of paper on the building and the next building. They scampered behind the buildings making their way through a bush path unseen to anyone on the street, out of Adekunle into oblivion. John walked up to the building, looked to his left and then his right, He carefully plucked the sheets of paper off the walls of the building and concealed them in his pockets. Kelvin was up on his left side offering him a hawkish look.
“So what are you up to now, gringo?” John struck a Pierre Brosnan cool look at Kelvin.
“Nada, I guess we’ll just wait for the Red Cross and Julius Berger to arrive, you know, get the show started”.
Four men covered in red dust worked painstakingly in dislodging a gigantic rock from an enormous pile of debris which consisted mainly of splintered wood, shattered glasses, loose bricks and shattered asbestos. The collapsed building site could be aptly described as hell let loose. One of the men tried again from what appeared to be a less difficult part of the boulder to see if it will bulge. It didn’t. He kicked hard at a loose piece of rock. It struck one of the men on the shin. In retaliation he picked the offensive stone and aimed it towards his attacker. An impending fight was averted when someone shouted “we’ve found another one... He’s alive”. John struggled to get up; he was nearly gone past forty winks. The events of the past twenty four hours were beginning to take its toll. Kelvin was sound asleep, their vigil of several hours finally rewarded with a survivor and he chose the moment to sleep. John gave him gentle shove. He would have been more dramatic if they hadn’t spent the previous night on that miserable slab. A policeman snapped his gun into position and tried to prevent the surging crowd from getting past the cordon. They had been successful throughout the night using worn-out tyres, rocks and drums to wall themselves, rescuers and journalists in a semi circle. So far, eight people had been rescued, but that was little consolation to the residents of Adekunle. More two hundred people, the national radio station had reported were unaccounted for.
No one was sure if the figure was accurate. The insane world of journalism in Lagos had grown weary of reporting casualty figures. A local television station had once announced that all the passengers in a plane missing from the skies for several hours had been found and were alive. Hundreds of distressed relatives had been overjoyed. Unfortunately everyone had died. The national broadcasting commission was incensed and slammed a ban on the station. A sacrificial lamb had been offered and now no one was prepared to test the air-might of the broadcast umpire. Kelvin battled to get into a vantage position to get the shot of the latest survivor. The young chap looked anything between ten and fifteen years. He was unconscious. I looked around to see if any of his relatives would push forward. The police were finding it increasingly difficult to stop the restive crowd from breaching the cordon. Andrew Ndanusa the head of the national disaster emergency service made a beeline towards the cameras. It was time to make his cameo. John was almost tempted to tell Kelvin not to shove the prude. For Christ sake the man came in about fourteen hours after a tragic incident. His house was less than thirty minutes drive from Adekunle if his memory served him correctly. But he had already given four world press briefings in half an hour. Tunde Akogun, a print journalist with the punch newspaper wanted to know if the building gave signs before its collapse. He was directing his question at the wrong person. Ndanusa irritatingly paid him no attention. He was more concerned with strike the right pose before the cameras. This time he wanted an international accompaniment. A reporter from the BBC had just arrived. He hadn’t been privy to Ndanusa’s earlier performances. He carefully positioned a boom microphone underneath the emergency services boss’s chin. Not one to be caught off-guard by the trappings and the opportunity of an appearance on the BBC, He beamed a million dollar smile, and smoothened his crisp looking navy blue suede jacket, something which had bothered several journalists. He was unarguably the best dressed man on the day. He had hardly broken sweat in this sweltering late December scorching heat. While his men toiled underneath 42 degrees centigrade searching for survivors, Ndanusa cooled in his Mercedes Benz jeep parked away from the anxious crowd under the watchful eyes of a dozen policemen. He introduced himself with the grandeur and pomposity of a roman emperor. With disgust John remembered the condescending look he had deposited on a poor reporter from the guardian newspaper who had asked for his name. Ndanusa had barked hard at him asking what part of the world he came from. But that was just the beginning; every journalist at Adekunle ground zero would receive a portion of Ndanusa’s acerbic tongue. Alan green, the young BBC reporter wanted to know the state of rescue operations. Alan green’s cameraman whispered quickly to Alan, stalling temporarily the interview. The young reporter smiled
“Would it be alright if you took off your jacket? My cameraman thinks it could be a little out of place if you appeared overdressed considering the nature of the story” the import of the words was lost expectedly to Ndanusa.
“That’s no problem” he handed the showy jacket to an aide. In a jiffy the proud look was replaced with an exaggerated humble looking one. Just as Alan was rounding up his interview, the guardian reporter considered the timing just perfect to settle old scores.
“...em sir.” John Ndanusa offered him a rather discomfiting frown. But the guardian reporter’s mind was set.
“Why did it take you almost half a day to get here, and why are there no earth moving vehicles working here yet, despite your promises”. Ndanusa chose the most the most inopportune moment to showcase his arrogance. He lashed out
“Mind your own business” the cameras were rolling. John quickly seized the opportunity to humble this ogre. Earlier on he had tagged him a quack. John was seething for revenge. He pulled out the two demolition notices the two agents of the planning authority had pasted on the burnt building earlier on out of his pocket. He held them up to his face like they were his election campaign posters. Ordinarily John Ndanusa wasn’t expected to know about the notices. But he was on the ropes John thought he might as well go for the kill. In his most authoritative voice he accused him and the local planning authorities of neglect and dereliction of duties.
“This is the proof” John raised the notices towards the cameras. Ndanusa was clearly miffed; he snatched the notices and tore them up.
“Don’t believe anything he says he is a lunatic and those papers are forged”
“Then why did you tear them up” another reporter enquired
“I told you to that this is none of your business, you are a fraudster and I’ll get you for this.” In the excitement of the heated debate the police had let the crowd beat the cordon. A number of them had followed the arguments and had in frustration or rather solidarity pounced on John Ndanusa as he attempted to get back to his comfort zone. The police came to his rescue but contributed in no some measure to the melee that was to follow afterwards. John and Kevin beat a hasty retreat; they choked on the noxious fumes of teargas, looking for a way out of Adekunle Street. The time was ten-thirty
Back at home, John worked assiduously and tirelessly at his miniature editing suite. The events of the last hour were pushed behind. The editing suite had eaten deep into his savings but he was still waiting to regret the acquisition; the guilt pangs were yet to bite, though he knew it will be soon. His better sense had hinted him that pride would prevent him from slapping himself silly for embarking on a wasteful buy. Kelvin breathed down his neck.
“This is Christmas day for heaven sake. I should be together with my clan watching some matinee not some scenes from a midnight horror movie”. He continued wining.
“Hurry up bru; I’ve got a family waiting in limbo for me”
John ignored him. His eyes were fixed on the 15 inches dell monitor. Just getting the right visuals was proving to be a formidable task. Small beads of perspiration were beginning to form on his forehead. No shirt on, John was on red alert, tinkering about the fringes of his debut nervous breakdown. The CBTV news bulletin was slated for 12 noon and he had an hour to go. His boss, the Emperor had called five times in the last twenty minutes. Each new call had progressively being shorter and the threats more sinister. From name calling it had degenerated to a possible sack.
“Do you have any sense of urgency and responsibility you idiot. That story is our lead story and if you are not here in the next ten minutes, its welcome pension scheme”. He emphasized the word pension.
John picked maniacally at the keyboard; his best ally for now was the computer. He just didn’t have any fondness for anything that spoke without his consent. He played the finished package on the editing software’s timeline, doing a quick check for any errors. A perfunctory glance at the computer’s time clock at the bottom of the screen heightened his anxiety. It was 11.15. His heartbeat raced at an alarming rate. Give or take if he drove at a dare-devil pace I’d be in the office at 11.50. In five minutes he slipped the ripped DVD into its case. Looking over his shoulder at Kelvin he felt momentary pity for him.
“You care for a ride”
“Like I had a choice” Kelvin replied nonchalantly.
“But I’d like to be in the driving seat especially in these circumstances”. John didn’t give him the satisfaction; he slipped into a 1997 black Honda accord. Not a very great ride according to Kelvin’s estimation.
“Looks like this car hasn’t been washed in a decade” Kelvin looked scornfully at the vehicle
“It’s allergic to water. Belt up kid and prepare for the ride of a lifetime”. John said, adjusting a side mirror
“Your funeral” Kelvin eyed him dangerously.
John hit 180 km at the first bend gliding on the third mainland bridge. It was a holiday and the bridge was free. The tyres bounced dangerously along the tar. A small truck approached the Honda rather closely on the left side causing it to veer slightly toward the 1.5 meter concrete road divider. John wasn’t impressed and Kelvin cursed at both him and the truck driver. With a mischievous grin, John sped past the truck waving a warning index finger at him. This was absolutely no time for games. Ten minutes to noon he was dashing into the CBTV’s two-storey building at Ikoyi. He had three stops to make. The most important task was dropping the DVD at the control room. Next stop was to a stern looking news editor. The final stop was exiting the building. He flew past about a dozen merrymakers on his way out. ‘Have yourself a merry little Christmas’ chimed on the car radio.
“Isn’t this a wonderful day for a Christmas binge?” John waited for Kelvin’s reply but was only greeted with a loud snore.

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Product Details
Author: Oboh Aghogho
Publication date: 7/17/2014
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 421 x 594
More About This eBook
Classified is an intriguing story based on fictional characters with an uncanny semblance of Nigeria in its military years. Throw in a rookie journalist, greedy soldiers and a drug cartel and you’d be right in the mix of a scandal that has unique ways of blooming.
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About Author
Aghogho Oboh is a television journalist, based in Lagos, Nigeria. He is an award winning presenter and co presenter of Today on STV- a popular breakfast show on Silverbird Television in Nigeria. He enjoys a large followership among Nigeria’s burgeoning population of youths and is married with a daughter.
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