Folayemi, her male colleague on striped suit and the man in denim pants rode in the man in denim pant’s Mercedes Benz V12 G65 AMG to the Police Station located along Obafemi Awolowo way at Alausa, Ikeja. The Police station was a ten minutes’ drive from the office.
“This should be fun,” Folayemi’s colleague whispered to her as they walked in through the gate of the Police Station.
Folayemi shook her head mildly in disbelief of her colleague’s excitement. She did not bother herself with a response. Instead, she fetched her Law School log book from her bag and tried jotting a few points from her experience so far.
“You brought your log book along?” her colleague asked. “Why don’t you wait until the day is over so you can have a more comprehensive report to make?”
“And why write while walking?” her colleague continued.
“Duhh. Why talk while walking?” she retorted.
The man in denim pants was ahead of them. He waved at a few Police officers who saluted as they walked past. It was obvious he was a familiar face. They arrived at the counter at the station. Boldly pinned to the counter was a cardboard cut-out with the inscription: THE POLICE IS YOUR FRIEND. On the mutilated walls of the lounge hung another cardboard cut-out with the inscription: BAIL IS FREE.
The dirty walls of the lounge were defaced with several ragged posters and loose electricity cables. The damp stench of body odour, faeces and cigarette oozed from the adjacent hallway which held the cells. Folayemi used her log book as cover for her nose.
“Oga Bee, welcome,” a haggard-looking officer in faded uniform saluted the man in denim pants.
“Joe, how far?” he saluted back.
“Oga, I dey kakaraka,” the officer responded. “Wetin carry you come here again?”
In a few minutes, the man in denim pants disclosed the reason for his visit and requested that his client be brought to him. His client, a young man in his mid-thirties was ushered into the lounge. An aura of affluence hung around him. He was dressed in a beautifully tailored Ankara outfit and had a gold Rolex wrapped around his wrist. Folayemi was surprised that, the man was allowed to keep his personal belongings. His aqua-scented cologne filled the air in the lounge. He looked wealthy, but he also looked scared.
The client, the man in denim pants, Folayemi and her colleague in striped suit were ushered into a small private room close-by on the request of the man in denim pants. In there, the client relayed the reason for his arrest. He was calm and soft-spoken as he gave detailed, unwavering account of what had transpired. He looked tired. He looked weak. He looked lost.
“Has your statement been taken yet?” the man in denim pants asked.
His client – Bamidele Odusote – shook his head.
A policeman who stood by the wall kept focused eyes on the other four occupants in the room.
“I told them I wouldn’t do so until I saw my lawyer. So I called Nwachukwu, but he directed me to your law firm. He said you are the best in these type of cases,” Bamidele said.
“Oh yes. Nwachukwu and I were colleagues both at the University of Uyo and at the Law School, Abuja Campus. He brings impossible briefs to us….”
“Tell me you can get me out of this mess,” Bamidele cut in. His shirt was getting soiled with sweat. He looked scared. “I did not kill my girlfriend… I have done terrible things in my life,” he said in a whisper. “Yes, I may have meddled in corporate fraud, forgery, manipulate financial standings of my companies… Just about any corporate sin you can think of… But murder? To kill a human?” A ball of tear welled up in his right eye as he spoke. “I had only just delivered a lecture last night… and Bimbo was not even with me… I have not seen her in three weeks… Who could want her dead? Who could want her dead?” he asked rhetorically. “Please tell me you can get me out of this?”
The man in denim pants looked assuredly into Bamidele’s eyes and said, “We’ll give it our best shot. We have never lost a case and this won’t be the first…. This isn’t even a court case yet. It’s just a Police matter…”
“I swear to you, I did not kill her,” Bamidele pleaded his innocence, his voice breaking. “I loved Bimbo to dea…I loved Bimbo to bits. We were soul mates. I wouldn’t …” He squeezed his hands like he was strangling an imaginary neck. “I wouldn’t ….”
“I know,” the man in denim pants said as he held Bamidele’s shaky hands. “I believe you.”
Folayemi and her colleague in striped suit looked surprised. How could the man in denim pants possibly clear Bamidele Odusote of any guilt without proof? What if Bamidele Odusote was putting up a show?
Folayemi did not have the guts to ask the man in denim pants. Neither did her colleague. Both students kept taking as much notes as they could. They could not wait to share the excitement of their first day of chambers attachment with their colleagues. Then, they heard some noise in the hallway. Sounds of footsteps approached the door. A corporal burst into the room and shut the door quickly. He signalled silent pleasantries to the other Policeman in the room and said, “Oga, you have to write your statement now.” His words were directed at Bamidele Odusote.
“Why the hurry?” the man in denim pants asked.
The corporal, panting hard, replied, “the press is here.”
“What has that got to do with my client?” the man in denim pants asked.
The corporal looked at his colleague. “Oga said he would appear before the press,” he said, pointing at Bamidele.
“Oga? Which Oga?” the man in denim pants asked, looking confused. “My client will be paraded? What?”
“Who ordered this?” the man in denim pants broke the silence. “Who is your Oga?”
“Oga DPO,” was the short reply.
At this sudden turn of events, the man in denim pants was hit hard with deep thoughts. He could not wrap his head around the reality that a man who was only just arrested on allegation of committing a crime, would be thrown to the press to be devoured, just a few hours after his arrest and before investigations were concluded. He knew the Police sold sensational stories to the press, but he could not understand how this could happen so soon. From experience, he knew that most suspects who were usually paraded before the press were those who refused to “cooperate” or “drop something for the boys”. Did the Police ask for bribe from his client?
“Did the Police ask for a bribe upon arresting you?” he quickly asked Bamidele.
“No,” was the quicker response. “Why?”
The two Police men in the room scoffed.
“Never mind.” The man in denim pants turned to Folayemi and said, “I need you to go out there and disperse the press men.” The instruction was very direct and unequivocal. “Now.” It needed no questions for clarification.
Folayemi scuttled out of the private room and walked sheepishly into the open visitors’ lounge at the station. The terrifying presence of quite a number of media houses was heavily registered there. The haggard faces of the journalists brightened up when they saw a figure walk into the lounge. But the excitement blotted out from their faces as soon as it had appeared when they noticed it was just a girl. A young looking girl.
One of the journalists – a woman – beckoned to the Folayemi. “Pssssss, do you work here?”
“No,” Folayemi answered.
The journalist heaved a deep sigh. Folayemi could spot the inscription “ChannelsTV” on her microphone.
“We heard Bamidele Odusote of Bamz Holdings was arrested. We had hoped he would be brought forth to confess before camera,” the journalist said with a giggle. “Do you know what cell he is?”
Folayemi looked at the journalist without saying a word, thinking of an answer. She did not know how to address the journalist, let alone the crowd in the room which she would have to face in no distant time. She was just a law student on chambers attachment who had hoped the chambers she was posted to would cut her some slack and allow her study for the bar finals. She never expected to be thrown into the fray of Police matters on her first day of attachment. She never expected to work at all during the chambers attachment period. Prior to the commencement of the attachment programme, she had heard news of how most law firms treated law students who were posted to their firms for the compulsory chambers attachment. These law firms would rather have the students study their books each day of the attachment period in preparation for the bar finals. Folayemi did not expect OakTree Partners to be any different.
“Hello?” the journalist jolted her out of her reverie. “”Do you happen to have an idea which cell Mr. Odusote is?”
What do I say to these journalists to keep them away? Folayemi thought, anticipating her next move for the crowd in the room.
“I think he is in a cell far away,” Folayemi heard herself say.
“What’s that?” the journalist asked. “What cell? How did you know?”
“I’m a student of Mass Communications at Unilag.. Currently doing my industrial attachment here…”
“Oh,” the journalist nodded her head. She then pulled Folayemi to one corner in the lounge. “So you have heard about Mr Bamidele’s arrest?”
“Umm, why was he arrested? Any ideas?” the journalist pressed.
Folayemi shook her head. “I really don’t know… but I heard…” Her eyes roved round the room as her partner listened with rapt attention. “I heard…”
“Come on, you can tell me. I promise I won’t say a word.”
Folayemi swallowed spittle which had formed in her mouth. “I heard he has been transferred to Zone 2 at Ikoyi for questioning.”
“What? We heard he was detained here,” the journalist asked in a whisper, looking surprised.
“Yes. He was arrested last night and brought here, but was taken in the wee hours of this morning to Zone 2 for questioning…”
“Why would they do that?”
Folayemi shrugged. “I guess orders from above.”
The journalist nodded. “That’s true. He is a powerful man after all.”
Folayemi nodded. She remembered how Bamidele shivered like a baby while recounting his story in the private room.
Powerful man indeed.
“So tell me, how did you hear of his arrest?” she asked the journalist.
The journalist smiled. “Ordinarily, I shouldn’t be telling you this but since you’ve been of help to me and you are a young colleague in the profession I’ll give you a tip. Make friends with the Police and wet a few palms. Once an arrest is made and the story is quite interesting, you will be the first to know of it.” The smile broadened on the face of the journalist. “I hope you understand?”
Folayemi nodded even though she would have wanted more explanation on the “wet a few palms” part of the sentence. “Thanks,” she said instead.
The journalist nodded, then, brought out her complimentary card. “Modupe Fagbohun is the name. Give me a ring. Whenever.”
Before Folayemi could respond, the journalist scurried out of the lounge in such haste. Other crew members who had the “ChannelsTV” tag on, joined her. Folayemi noticed that the remaining media houses personnel also joined the rush. She wondered how they knew where Modupe Fabgbohun was heading to. Then a press man with a “Punch” badge on his chest turned around and said, “Thank you. Your whisper was loud enough.”
Folayemi smiled. Her loud whisper was deliberate. Now, there was only one place the press was heading to.