WARRI –EFURUN TOWN
Pandemonium as machetes wielding youths with fresh palm leaves tied around their heads and waist took over the streets linking to the residence of Kumalo. They all wore black trousers and white singlet. Car owners and drivers had to abandon their cars and flee to avoid molestation from the rampaging irate youths.
There was tight traffic jam on the street as they conveyed the corpse of Jumbo home for burial. The Egbesu Cult members have the sole responsibility of burying their fellow initiate. While smoking Indian hemp and drinking different colours of ogogoro in different shades of bottles, with blood shot eyes were visibly saddened and angry at the death of a very young member. Every shop on Otiotio Street was closed for safety while non initiates stood by the road side to watch the procession. They were singing and chanting war slogans as they marched on with the casket on the shoulder of six able bodied youth wearing only trousers.
Detective Peter was in their midst dressed to match. He also has a red Papas cap on and a bottle of ogogoro and
Machetes in his hands. He had followed the corpse from Enugu, though in his private Car. He had driven after the Bus that came brought Jumbos family members from Warri to carry the Corpse from UNTH Enugu. He had gotten to the local mortuary where the body was deposited before going into town to lodge at the ‘blue waters’ hotel. He came around Kumalo’s night in the night to attend the wake keeping and from there he4 had gotten the whole information he needed about the Akporjotor’s family. Their men do not live long due to their affinity with the Egbesu cult. They have always died accidentally by the bullet. Though they are noted for their brevity and ruggedness. Kumalo had wanted to break that jinx and make a difference in his own generation that is why he decided to leave this vicinity to Enugu where he can live and graduate peacefully with his brother. Peter also learnt that Kumalo’s mother is hypertensive and lives on daily drugs to stabilize her BP.
Detective Peter was among the group today mimicking the songs they sang and dancing to the rhythm with them also. He had joined them at the Morgue when the Cultist came to carry the Corpse and had followed them thus far. The corpse was laid in state on a platform at the center of the Akporjotor’s compound and the youth danced around it pouring libations and chanting amidst gun shots in the air.
The head of the group later came to the center of the circle and signalled for attention.
Area! He called
Hey! They chorused
Area! He called louder
Hey! They chorused
Area!! He screamed and vibrated.
Hey! The chorus.
Men! Egbe don gas o! He addressed the group. Yawa don gas! Na which day we bury Oga Akporjotor the rainbow shoe here? He asked no body in particular.
Now we don come to bury him Pikin again! Na who dey do this family nah? He asked no one in particular while there were remarks here and there.
See small Jumbo Akporjotor wey just enter school yesterday here! See as dem just burst him head like coconut! Wetin he do dem?
Nothing o! Nothing! The crowd chorused.
Someone in the crowd started a song.
Na wetin he do dem?
He no do dem nothing o! The chorus
Na wetin he do dem?
He no do dem nothing o! The chorus.
Ha! This one! This one! Gentle man no dey o!
This one! This one! Gentle man no dey! The chorus.
The crowd went into another frenzied singing and jumping mode until the leader beckoned for attention again.
The crowd mellowed and in unison started to chant
We no go gree! We no go gree!
Make una wait! Make una wait! He calmed them down.
Madam Akporjotor get only two pikins! Okiemute and Jumbo! Papa Akpors don follow warri crisis waka! Now the only two children wey de give the woman hope, winch don chop one of dem! Jumbo don kpai and Okiemute de form missing in action!
We go bury Jumbo! Yes we go bury am because na we brother. After the burial, we go storm Enugu! We go storm that town to go look for Okiemute aka Kumalo. If Kumalo don Kpai also, we go find the dead body and carry am come home come bury before we know how to take revenge. Egbesu no be small children runs! We no be campus confra! We be correct witches and wizards here! No be every bird dem de chop!
Dem no de chop Vulture nah! Wey dem? Dem de mad? Someone screamed from the crowd.
This Enugu People don chop Vulture o! He continued.dem go feel us! We go burn down that School! We be Egbesu! We be Winch! We be dead body!
This one! This one! Gentle man no dey o! This one this one gentle man no dey o! He started the song all over while the crowd started charging and cursing.
The leader suddenly stood transfixed, he stood on his toes and spun around, he spun around three times before he changed the tone of the song.
Igbokigbo! He chanted
Hey! The chorus
Igbokigbo! He chanted
Hey! The chorus
He started chanting and jumping and the crowd went agog as they started cutting one another with their matchetes. The matches were just like mere canes on them as no one was cut.
Igbokigo! Igbokigbo! Igbokigbo! The crowd kept chanting and gyrating. Detective Peter was most unfortunate to be within the crowd at that moment as he received several machete cuts all over his body and his hands as he tried to block off the machete swipe while making his escape route out of the crowd. His head was spared because none of them tried to cut another on the head.
Peter boarded a bike and headed straight to Saint Philemon’s Hospital along PTI road and he was admitted immediately after he flashed his badge. He came back after two days at the hospital to find out that Kumalo’s mother had died of heart attack when Jumbos body was being interred. She was taken to the mortuary where her son’s body was kept while a contingent of ten members of the egbesu cult had left for Enugu to look for Kumalo.
STATE CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION DEPARTMENT HQ
Detectives Peter and Sandra were in the office of former ASP now SP Sunday Onche. He finally got his promotion after proving to the Police that he is mentally stable and physically competent to carry on with the police job for his mates have been Superintendants three years before now, he was in a good spirit and resplendent in his new uniform of blue and black. He also has an office to himself now.
Peter had narrated what went down at Warri to the SP and briefed him of the imminent danger facing the city by the entrance of ten members of the dreaded Egbesu cult.
Oga! Those guys were cutting and shooting at one another and nothing happened! They were just chanting Igbokigbo! Igbokigbo, and jumping about. It was like an evil spirit entered them all, sir! I was lucky o! I was not expecting the turn of events at all else i would not be in their midst at that time! Peter explained: what if they had shot at me thinking i was one of them?
Then you would have been dead meat boy! SP said: you are an undercover cop and in your line of duty, anything can happen. But thank God you are safe and healthy!
Oga! I am safe but not healthy! My back is gone! My shoulders are finished! The cuts are very deep! Each cut was stitched twelve times. If not that I am a police officer, I would have been rejected at the hospital. Peter explained.
Which means you could have bled to death? SP asked.
Oga! You are not even feeling sorry for me! Peter challenged.
No sir! Sorry for what? That’s the job you have chosen as a career so you should accept whatever befalls you in good spirit! SP said. Meanwhile I have had my own fair share of misfortune in the line of duty.
Oga! You mean you have scars on your body as a result of the job too? Sandra asked.
Hmm! Peter! Have you guys ever wondered about the where about of my family? At least I should have a family at my age nah! Not so? He asked.
Of course your family is abroad nah! We all know that! Peter said.
SP shook his head sadly from side to side and stood up from his seat. He pockets his hands in his trousers side pockets as he paced about the room.
I was undercover at Akure eight years ago to bust a cartel farming and distributing Marijuana. I infiltrated the cartel and became one of them. The marijuana business in that part of the country was very organized. They had farms in the deepest part of the forest that people don’t venture into. It was another world in those farms. There are houses for the labourers and their families at the plantations. They are well paid and taken care of. The rules at the farms were very strict and must not be broken. The Barons were small gods! They were revered by the workers and these barons were so ruthless that they kill workers at will and bury them at the farm. The security network at the farms is likened to that of a maximum security prison. We had such farms at Akure, Ifon and Owo communities. The Barons were high chiefs and traditional rulers in their respective climes. But I bust them after three years of working for them. I was as discreet as I could be or so I had thought. I succeeded. I was rewarded with a promotion and I was redeployed to Gusau in the north for another under cover job on smuggling between Nigeria and Niger boarders. Two months going at Gusau. I was invited to Lagos to be briefed that my wife, my four kids, my house help and my two Alsatian dogs were slaughtered over night. A note was pasted on the door of my house claiming that the attack was from Akure drug farms!
Jeez! Sandra screamed.
Peter was speechless, his jaw simply dropped.
So my guy! SP continued, that is the path we have chosen to follow. I was told I lost my mind and ran mad. I was hospitalized at the psychiatric hospital for two full years. I spent one year at rehabilitation before returning to the police three years ago. It’s been over six years now but I still look forward to waking from the night mare. How can I just loose my beautiful wife of fifteen years like that? My first son was in his third year at the Nigerian military school zaria, my second child was at Air force military school while the last two were at staff school UNILAG because my wife was a lecturer there!
I am so sorry sir! Jeez! My gawd! Ha Oga! May I sit down please? Peter asked.
Why? Sit down if you wish! SP said.
Peter and Sandra sat down and Sandra started to sob.
Sir! Your family was wiped out in the course of your job and you still remained on the job? Peter asked.
Yes! They are the only family I have left. The police took care of me when I was sick. I was given the best medical attention until I regained sanity. Even my family members and in-laws abandoned me for madness. The police alone did not desert me. My in-laws blamed me and my job for the death of their daughter and grand children. I had kept my family with my wife safe in Lagos while I was moving around with the job. I never knew that just when we think we are safest, we are actually most vulnerable!
It is six years altogether now, Sandra said; sir, do you have any plans to start a new family?
So that they will be wiped off again? SP snapped
Haba! Oga no nah! That was six years ago nah, you need to move on, Sandra persisted. You cannot say because you fell from a horse you would not climb the horse again nah!
My dear! Fall pass fall! You see this fall ehn? I am not going to re climb the Horse. SP said; enough about me now! Let’s get back to where we were. Where were we?
Sandra and Peter jumped up to their feet.
Peter! From what you have said, there is red alert in town now! Isn’t it? SP asked.
Yes sir! The Egbesu boys must be located and arrested before they reach Okiemute!
And how do you plan to achieve that? SP asked.
We have been to the Edo line motor park! Sandra continued; we found out that they had arrived town in two station wagon cars while a third car was driven by the one of them who we suspect to be the leader of the cult. They chartered two cabs to the IMT campus two. We went there and tried to look for clues but no head way yet.
We also went to Okiemute’s class to know his close friends, especially those from Delta state. We are keeping tab on three of them in case the Egbesu makes contact with any of them. Peter said.
Do the students know where Okiemute is at now? SP asked
That, I cannot be affirmative! But none of them have visited the hospital yet Sandra said.
Okay! Continue to nose around for clues. Meanwhile what about the boys that attacked Okiemute? Have you arrested them yet? SP asked
Not yet sir! Okiemute only knows the face of the one he fought with, he also gave us a name ‘Stanley’ as being called at the scene of the crime when he was pretending to be dead. His information cannot help us much for now but we will build on it. Peter said.
And you said the boy is not a cultist! SP said.
He claims he is not a campus cultist but acknowledges being a member of the Egbesu back home and I have confirmed that to be true. Peter said.
And which is worse? SP asked.
SP started to laugh. I am joking boy! I know a lot about the Egbesu than you do. Okay. Em, we are at a cross road here, the scenario is dicey. Do you know the name of the confraternity that attacked the boy?
Not exactly sir! But we have narrowed it down to either of the Black Panther or the hawks. Sandra said.
And why these two? SP asked
Our internal source told us sir! Peter said.
And who and what is your internal source? SP asked.
We are sorry sir! That is our ‘joker’ for now! Sandra said.
Okay! I respect that! SP said. Now get back to work and close up all these gaps in your case. Let’s clear up this mess now before it forms a big shit! You are dismissed!
Sandra and Peter saluted and left the office.
UGWUAJI FOREST-MID NIGHT
Initiation ceremony; members of the hawks confraternity are dancing around a burn fire on a cleared platform in the middle of the forest, they are surrounded by trees and shrubs and below the elevated plateau is a running stream. The stream must be crossed before accessing the plateau upon which is the shrine in the wilderness, the initiation ground.
Sentries are strategically position from the beginning of the forest entrance to the bank of the stream. The sentries are armed with bull dogs or a 7 and a torch light. The number 7 is the code for a portable axe. The sentries are replaced hourly to avoid anyone falling asleep on duty.
The sentries hide within shrubs or they climb up a tree so as to be hidden from those approaching the wilderness but they can see anyone approaching in the dark. Once an approaching person is about ten yards to the sentries position he lets out the cry ‘who goes there’? The person approaching must reply ‘Ahoy’! Else the bulldog will bark. And when the bulldog barks, somebody go die! That is how it works. Any anomaly observed by the sentry must be reported quickly to the initiation ground lord for immediate regulation.
Four new civilians were lying blind folded on the floor of the ground. They wore only boxers and their bodies glistered in the dark reflecting the ray from the burning fire. The men were in a jolly mood dancing and chanting.
If you sabi dance o!
Make you dance am well o!
If you sabi hammer!
Make you hammer well o!
If you sabi kosa!
Make you kosa well o!
Because anything you be o!
Na your own!
Anything you be o!
Na your own!
If you like be axe man!
Na your own!
If you like be bucket!
Na your own!
If you like be 2.2!
Na your own!
If you like be eiye!
Na you own!
Stanley was leading the sale and his boys were taking the chorus. After several songs, Stanley came to the center of the circle and called the forum to order.
Hawks of the sky! He chanted
Higher! Higher! Higher! The chorus
Hawks of the sky! He shouted
Higher! Higher! Higher! The chorus
Yes! You are welcome to another night of jolly and tinini! As you can see, we are growing! We have four new rats to tinini tonight!
He started a short song
We are going higher day by day!
The hawks are going higher day by day why not join us!
We are going higher day by day!
The hawks are going higher day by day why not join us! The chorus.
Where is Egbe please? Stanley asked. I can’t see him here tonight, it is already 2.00AM.
The men looked among themselves
He is not here me lordy! Someone said
Egbe is not here tonight? Stanley asked no one in particular
Maybe he is sick! Another person said.
Sick of what? Stanley asked. We were together at Nkutu ume this evening. Well, that is by the way!
Egbe has fucked up again o! We went for a hit to eliminate those Jew men that disgraced him weeks ago! It was his responsibility to silence the guys especially the one that beat him up but after shooting at the guys, the younger brother died instantly but the main guy was still breathing but bleeding profusely. I told Egbe to finish the guy off with his bulldog or using 7 to chop off his head but he insisted he wanted the guy to die a slow and painful death! I tell am say all did na die! He no gree! He brushed the guy severally on the head and we left the guy to die in the pool of his blood! It was his call, not mine! So I had to follow his decision. Now the guy did not die! He is currently receiving treatment under police surveillance at the UNTH. The Police and the man’o’war will be after us now. Is vicious here! He suddenly asked. Vicious! The man ‘o’ war! Come forward.
Me Lordy! Vicious answered and stepped into the center.
Vicious, what is the man ‘o’ war saying about this issue at hand.
Vicious; real name Henry Edozie is an ND 2 mass communication student. He is nineteen years old and an only child. His father is the commissioner for works in Ebonyin state.
Our presido said it is a case of two cults clash. He said four men died. The two brothers and two unknown soldiers. He also said that that the clash is between us the BP. Vicious said.
Which kind nonsense talk be that? Stanley asked. Where did your preside get that kind of information from?
I don’t know me lordy! Vicious answered.
It’s a lie! He is giving you guys’ false information because he does not trust you. That guy is a war veteran so we must be wary of him. I am sure he told you guys to report any suspicious thing or people to him abi? Stanley asked.
Exactly me lordy!
We need to move in on the guy at UNTH! We need to finish him off! He knows Egbe facially and can be used by the police to hunt us. And I can remember that stupid Egbe calling my real name instead of my bush name at the scene. Egbe is not here tonight! He is supposed to be here! He is supposed to follow us for the UNTH mission this morning.
Meanwhile, vicious and Dagger will accompany me to UNTH in the morning. We will go with food flasks as if we are his friends. Once we see him face to face, we will silence him with the pillow or any other weapon within reach in the hospital. I will have my bulldog with me just in case things get out of hand. Dagger where you dey? Stanley called out.
A lanky fellow came out with his black trousers, black T shirt and blue beret.
Me lordy! He greeted.
Are you good to go? Stanley asked him.
I am ever gallant! Me lordy! He replied bouncing on his feet.
I trust you Dagger! You no de slack! Stanley commended
Where is the ground Lord? Stanley asked.
I de here o! I dey arrange wood for the fire! Some one answered from behind the circle of men. He came forward with a bundle of sticks which he dumped into the burning fire.
Ngwa! Ngwa! Take care of these rats! Stanley said and left the circle center to light up a wrap of igbo.
Scatter is the ground lord. He is in charge of the initiation of new entrants and the general preparation of the wilderness prior to any meeting like tonight’s.
He went and kicked the first body lying blind folded on the ground.
Stand up! He commanded,
The young man stood up
Wetin be your name? Scatter asked
Paschal! The young man answered
Who bring you come here? He asked
No body sir! Paschal replied.
So na only you waka come? Scatter asked
You dey lie! Scatter said slapping him across the face
Paschal fell over but quickly got up and stood backing Scatter
Turn around! Scatter commanded.
What is your full name?
Pascal Alozie sir!
Where are you from?
I am from Nkwere in Imo state sir! Paschal was shaking fearfully.
So why do you want to fly with us? Scatter asked
I love your people and their swag on campus! They are the most powerful and I also like your colour! I have been toasted by other runs but I prefer the hawks! Paschal said.
Una hear am? Scatter asked out loud. He said he preferred the Hawks!
The men in the circle clapped for paschal whistling and making cat cries.
Oya rugged this man! Rugged this man! Scatter commanded as he jumped out of the circle himself. The circle of men closed in on Paschal with fresh canes cut from the forest tress in their hands .They flogged him all over his bare body. Paschal screamed in pain, he tried to run but was kicked back into the circle; he fell to the ground rolling as canes rained on him severally until the floggers became tired and their canes had been reduced to mere short sticks. However two men were positioned to ensure the new initiate does not fall into the fire. The remaining rats were given similar treatment with fresh canes already cut in the evening and piled up by the river bank by the ground lord. They were later given the oath of allegiance and secrecy and welcomed to the fold by every member present. They were thought how to claw and greet a fellow Hawk. The next morning, the new recruits were made to fly their beret on clean shaven head and walk round the school premises together. Who no go, no go know!
OFF CAMPUS-BEER PARLOUR
Members of the Egbesu cult met for a round table discussion at Brifina Guest house along Abakaliki road close to IMT campus 2. Assorted hot drinks and different brands of cigarette were displayed on the tables. As they discuss, they exhaled thick smoke into the atmosphere to further deplete the earth’s ozone layer.
They were dressed casually except for the leader Jato who wore a white beret of a white T shirt and red jeans trousers. His left fingers are adorned with mysterious rings made from animal skin sewn together with black tread. Even the bangles he wore look diabolically strange.
He poured the content of the black label in front of him into a glass cup and gulped down the content. He closed his eyes and shook his head as he allowed the content to go down his throat.
Yes! Una welcome once again! Amici!
Amici! They replied.
It is four days now that we have been in Enugu combing the city for information. Each group has presented their findings to me and I have summarized everything so that we now have a plan to execute.
Number one! Okiemute is alive! He is receiving treatment at UNTH. He is under Police surveillance and every visitor is being frisked and interrogated by the police before seeing him.
Two out of three students that went to visit him two days ago were arrested and suspected to be on a mission to rescue him.
The man ‘o’ war girl Emilia has being very helpful. Rukewe in getting down with her seriously and the relationship has been fruitful. She told Rukewe that the Hawks are the guys that hit Kumalo and Jumbo. She has given him the names and pictures of some of the members of the Hawks including those that are members of the man ‘o’ war. Well done so far Rukewe, but I hope this babe would not make you forget why we are here? Because the rate you are grooving the city with this girl it’s like you never see yellow babe before!
The men all laughed and hailed Rukewe.
But Bros Jato, how you take know nah? One of the boys asked.
Imagine Rukewe to tell me say he want to write Poly jamb again so that he go come school for IMT! Rukewe wey no finish secondary school! No be for SS2 dem expel am for Don Domingos?
The men laughed heartily.
Bros forget that thing o! Rukewe said; I get my WAEC result o! I don write WAEC as external candidate and the result pure die!
Na lie! Jato shouted; you mean am?
Yes nah bros! Some one else offered; na me and Rukewe write WAEC for the same school as external candidates for that year! Na for Saint Michaels we write am and our two results pure die!
As as how nah! Jato protested; una know book? See una eyes! How una result take dey pure?
Bros forget that thing o! Who no go, no go know o! Rukewe said.
Na true! Na true! The Boss said; yes! As I was saying, the police that arrested those boys at UNTH accused them of being Egbesu boys who have come to scatter the campus to avenge the death of Jumbo. This means that the police are aware of our presence in this town!
But how nah? Rukewe protested. How police take sabi nah? Dem be winch?
Never under estimate the efficiency of the Nigerian police if they are ready to work! The Boss said
Meanwhile we now have a list of those that hit our brothers. Jumbo is dead and Kumalo is hospitalized. We shall work on the list to know the homes and departments of the lords of the Hawks, we need to know when they are meeting on Campus, and we will weigh options and know the right time to strike. At least five of them must kpai! Including one from the man ‘o’ war!
We shall leave only three men here while the rest of us will return home. Rukewe! Sampson and pastor! You guys will remain here and do a clean job of hitting those guys. Rukewe, I put you in charge here! He pulled out a bangle from his wrist. Take this and wear it when you are in charge, you must not wear it in my presence and when you return to Warri, don’t wear it until you see me and hand it over, do you understand me?
Yes Boss! I know the drill. There can’t be two captains in a ship! Rukewe said as he pockets the band.
Good! The rest of us will go home and give Kumalo’s mother, our mother a befitting burial according to our Urhobo tradition. We will hand over the corps to the family tomorrow for proper burial.
Look Rukewe! Don’t forget you are to leave this town immediately after the operation! Don’t be carried away by the man ‘o’ war girl o!
I know boss! But I fit invite her come Waffi nah! Rukewe stated.
No! Let everything that happened in Enugu remain in Enugu! Boss stated and stood up to use the convenience.
Idiot boy! Why you want invite her come Waffi? What of your babe for Warri? Pastor asked .
I go code her nah! I fit keep her for your bunk! Rukewe said.
Idiot! See your head! Wetin i go tell my own babe? Pastor asked.
You go tell her say na you sister nah! Rukewe said.
Na now I sabi say you don de kolo! You don see any person wey yellow for my family? How I want to take explain the girl complexion? Pastor asked.
You go say na your mama family! Rukewe said.
My mama family people black pass my papa family! Pastor said and the party stared laughing and puffing.
Jato returned from the convenience
So na Igbo girl you dey trip for now? He asked Rukewe.
Boss! This girl sweet die! She dey scatter my head like say I never see woman before! Bros the girl body be like Angel own!
Idiot! You don see Angel body before? Pastor countered.
Well, I trust you sha and that is why I am putting you in charge of the operation here. If not, na you I for first depot. But I know say you rugged and you get sense. But if you fuck up? I go treat your fuck up wella!
So my men! We will split up as we leave town tomorrow, we would leave in batches of two and board different vehicles to Warri. We will all meet at Richard’s Barbing saloon at 6.00PM tomorrow evening.
Correct boss! You be the master planner! Rukewe teased.
Commot for there Kewe! Stupid boy! Pastor teased him as he fills his glass from the bottle of hot drink in front of him and gulps down the content. He started using the glass to tap on the bottle rhythmically, others soon joined and Rukewe started to sale.
My mama tell me say! He sang
Iyoo! Tell me say iyoo! The chorus