The Toyota corolla sedan belonging to the C.S.I. department pulled into the parking lot of the Economics department in the University of Jos. Officers Chrome and Jerome wasted no time in tracking down the lady whose connection to their case was yet to be unfolded. After being misdirected once, they finally met with a close friend of Monica’s just outside her lecture room. When asked if she knew Monica’s whereabouts, she answered, “Monica? Oh you mean Jill! No, she hasn’t been to school today.”
“Jill, you say?” Chrome asked.
“Oh, yeah. You see, that’s a nickname we, her close friends, gave her. She has the voice of a diva when she sings,” the young woman explained. “So, we gave her the name ‘Jill’, since she sounds so much like the American singer, Jill Scott.”
“I see,” Chrome replied, not sure exactly what he was seeing.
“You know, it’s really strange of her not to be in school today. She never misses a class,” she added.
“Why strange?” Jerome asked.
“Well, that’s because her father is a politician. You might have heard of him. He is the current commissioner for education in Akwa-Ibom state.” Chrome and Jerome nodded their heads in affirmation, and she continued, “So, you see, she has to be a model student.” After a brief moment of silence, she asked, “She’s not in some kind of trouble, is she?”
“We would like to believe that isn’t so,” Jerome replied.
Chrome then asked, “Do you know of her relationship with Mr. Jackson Essien?”
“Oh Jack? He is a nice guy, treats Monica like his queen. Their relationship is very solid and I believe they’ll head down the aisle very soon,” she supplied all this in one breath, her eyes picking up a merry dance. “Yeees! I remember now. She was meant to go and see him yesterday. Something about a surprise he had in store for her. I’m sure he proposed to her!” She now looked positively radiant with vicarious joy.
Jerome gave his superior a puzzled look, an expression Chrome responded to with a raised brow. It was their signal to leave. Chrome thanked the young woman and asked her for her name. “Oh, I’m sorry sir, where are my manners? My name is Clementina Akpan, but you may call me Tina for short.”
“Ok, Tina, one last thing. May we have Monica’s current residential address?”
She reluctantly obliged and Chrome thanked her again before he and Jerome headed back towards the parking lot. On their way, Jerome asked Chrome how come Tina wasn’t yet aware of the demise of Jackson. The younger officer assumed that the morning would have been teeming with news of the murder. Chrome answered, saying that earlier in the morning, he had called the PRO of the FPF, Sergeant Joy Chinatu, and asked her to use her connections to tamp down on how much the media would broadcast about the story. What people knew was that someone was dead. No names had been released. Yet.
As they drove past the gates of the university, Chrome put a call through to Walter, and gave him Monica Scott’s address, and instructions to bring her in for questioning.
Miss Monica Scott, Chrome mused the name to himself as Jerome engaged a gear and vroomed past a bus choking out large puffs of blackened exhaust smoke. After a brief pause, he muttered, “What are you hiding?”
Walter put away his cell phone as Edeeth turned the steering hard to make a u-turn towards the direction of their new destination. Their new orders were to locate Jackson’s girlfriend, a Miss Monica Scott, and bring her back to the headquarters for questioning. Something about the way Chrome had given the order made them realize that this woman was a person of great interest. Edeeth stepped on the gas pedal as the car sped down the highway. It would seem that Sir Anderson’s information was genuine. In just a little above twenty minutes, they arrived at the gate of the residence of Miss Scott. The building was situated in Bukuru Township, on a lonely stretch of thoroughfare two minutes away from the main Abuja/Jos expressway. The gate was massive. Seated just outside were two military personnel. They eyed the officers stonily as they pulled up on the side of the street, alighted and approached them. Edeeth was the one who enquired if Monica was home.
“This is the holiday residence of the Akwa-Ibom State Commissioner for Education. You have no right to barge in here and ask for whomever you want,” one of the soldiers barked.
“I’m sorry, but this is official police business. We have to investigate any case and Miss Scott is part of our investigation,” Edeeth retorted sharply.
The other soldier seated sprang up, grabbed his rifle and said, “Listen, if you bloody police-people don’t leave here now, I will blow you away!” He cocked the rifle and aimed pointblank at Walter.
A knot of people began to gather here and there on the street as passersby stopped, wonder at what was going on etched on their faces. Their expressions were rapt as they observed the law enforcement agents and their military counterparts.
Walter kept his cool. He looked straight at the soldier and said, “We are no longer in those barbaric days when you soldiers could do whatever you wanted and got away with it. To begin with, you are here guarding this residence illegally. You both are meant to be in the barracks or away on your tour of duty. The commissioner must’ve pulled some strings to get you both to be here. Trust me, if you start anything here, it’s going to spiral back to him. And he’s not going to be happy in the end, I guarantee that!” The flinty stare he planted on the soldier was firm with purpose.
The soldier hesitated. His partner placed a hand on his shoulder and nodded. The trigger-happy man put down his weapon, eyed Walter with residual disgruntlement and took a few steps back. Just then, the smaller portion on the huge gate opened up.
A young woman stepped through. To say she was beautiful was an understatement; she was stunning. She was slightly-built and coffee-coloured; her oblong head was crowned with thick curly hair brushed loosely over her shoulders. The simple flowery dress she wore accentuated the sensual curves of her well-proportioned body, and showed off a long splendid pair of legs. Her face was dominated by large, dark eyes fringed with long lashes, full, pouty lips, a firmly-set jaw and a small, pert nose.
If this was Monica Scott, Walter thought, then Jackson had been one heck of a lucky guy before he died.
If this was Monica Scott, Edeeth thought, then Jack’s death just got more intriguing. Beautiful women and dead boyfriends always made for interesting cases.
With a bewildered look on her face, the young woman enquired from the soldiers what was going on.
“It’s these bloody policemen o. They came here and started asking all sorts of nonsense questions!” the trigger-happy soldier groused, obviously still miffed that he hadn’t shot someone yet.
Walter noticed the animosity the soldier harboured towards them. It was no news, the continuous rivalry that persisted between the Police and the Army. A rivalry that began way before any who were standing there was born. What started such unwarranted bad blood would forever remain a mystery, Walter thought. He was brought back to the present when Monica spoke, “Policemen?” she paused and then asked, “What do they want?”
Edeeth noticed something off about her voice and raised an eyebrow at Walter, who promptly answered the question before any of the soldiers could, “We are here to see a Monica Scott.”
“I am she,” she replied. “What do you want with me?”
“We would like you to accompany us back to the station.”
“Why? What have I done?”
“We are investigating a missing-persons case involving a certain Jackson Essien.”
“Missing?” Monica looked surprised.
The soldiers themselves exchanged puzzled looks.
Walter continued, “Yes, missing. You are his girlfriend, are you not?”
“Ye…yes I am,” Monica stammered.
“Then you won’t mind following us back to the station,” Walter said.
Monica hesitated and was thinking of returning back into the compound when Edeeth added, “Only to ask you a few questions that may help us locate his whereabouts…please.”
The other woman sighed. She looked at the soldiers and instructed them to let her father know where she was going. She ignored the soldiers’ protests and followed the officers to their car. As they opened the doors, Walter looked at the trigger-happy soldier, winked at him and got in. Before long they were on their way back to the station.