It’s been three months of pain, distress, and confusion. Over 90 days and the storm hadn’t ceased to batter the ship of the Cokers and Idemilis.
Since Osasu’s burial, Osato and Osahon had been at loggerheads with each other, one blaming the other for the hard luck that has brought chaos to the family. Osato cared less about George, as far as she was concerned, he was never her father. During their last arguments she thundered at Osahon,
“Mummy, please don’t put this on me. George was never my father. The father I know is that sweet man lying in jail because you brought your misfortune to him in your quest to embrace his fortune. Or didn’t you leave George because of money? It is not in your place to label me a black sheep, if you must do, then please note that it runs in the gene.”
Osato’s reaction was against her mother’s accusation that she caused Osasu’s death by creeping into Tayo’s bed. Osahon wasn’t swift to reply her daughter; she couldn’t believe Osato would respond to her with such strong words. She simply sat down there on the dining table, sighing and hissing, and when she realized that she might be losing her respect as a mother if she didn’t say anything, she gazed into Osato’s eyes and said with a smile,
“I see you have now grown wings. I do not blame you. You should know that the gold I dug some years back is the basis of the wealth you enjoyed before now, and I don’t regret being a gold digger. But since you seem to think we are alike, I’d like to inform you that Johnson is still missing and I am not the one sleeping with a gateman.” She left for her room afterwards. Since then, mother and daughter haven’t said a word to each other.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – —
Tayo stopped seeing Osato since he learnt of Osasu’s death. To him Osato was a murderer, fornicator, liar, and an ill-mannered wife. He couldn’t wait for his trial to be over. He would divorce her and institute legal action against her so that she could be tried for conspiracy and kidnap in the court of law. Johnson was still missing. However, Tayo has also refused to see his mother who he believed pushed him into this mess. There were days when he muttered to himself in tears,
“Had I known, I wouldn’t have listened to maami. I would have absconded like I wanted to.” He made Christ his best friend for the second time but his prayer point didn’t change.
“Dear God, please save me from this mess and I will serve you forever.”
Mrs. Coker who wouldn’t quit cursing her luck and blaming herself for her son’s suffering also prayed in like version, persuading Mother Mary to talk to her Son and save Tayo. Three months of court sittings and the fog only thickened. She was beginning to lose hope; her health had deteriorated as a result of high blood pressure. Her hopes are gradually being transferred to her grandchildren – Mark and Brian; she had been tasked with the responsibility of taking care of them since Osasu’s demise.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – — Amidst the tribulation a friendship was born. Emeka and Tayo got closer; perhaps because they didn’t have a choice. All their deeds were in unison; they sleep in the cell together, appear in court together, and find solace in each other. However, the older man demonstrated more mental strength. He remained the man of few words he had always been, while Tayo wouldn’t stop being a crying toddler. Their first appearance in court was very short as the case was up for mention, but the judge refused Barrister Yejide’s plea for the suspects to be granted bail. During the second sitting, the prosecutor couldn’t back up his evidence with a laboratory report of the fingerprints which the judge demanded for, and the police report wasn’t acceptable since they couldn’t produce the witness that sent in the evidence. At the third sitting the judge became furious at the lack of a witness to corroborate the police report and evidence. The prosecutor pleaded for an adjournment and promised to bring his witnesses to court during the next sitting.
Barrister Yejide assured his clients that he would get them out of jail. He made them understand that he had launched an investigation into finding out who the witnesses were but everything seemed to be a dead end. Yet he refused to relent in his efforts. He had contacted the post house that delivered the evidence to the police station but their record didn’t reveal much as there were no CCTV cameras. Inspector Farouk has been helpful, but his best wasn’t enough. More so, he had to be much more discreet about things. The fourth sitting was around the corner, and there was just little hope in the hopelessness.
Emeka and Tayo stood in the dock as they watched the prosecutor step forward, adjusting his gown as he approached the judge. He had quietly watched Barrister Yejide defend his clients, but he didn’t say a word; no objections. He let him argue his case as he patiently awaited his time. When Patrick was done, the prosecutor made his first move.
“My lord, I will like to invite my first witness in front of this court,” he demanded.
The judge replied, “Go ahead.”
“Mr. Musa, please step forward,” Musa stepped forward to the amazement of Idemilis, especially Osato whose mouth was left ajar. He entered into the witness box where he was asked to declare his name and relationship to the suspects after he had sworn by the Holy Qur’an to say the truth and nothing but the truth. The prosecutor started his examination.
“Do you know the deceased?” he showed Musa a picture of George Elliot.
“Where do you know him from?”
“When I used to work with big oga, he followed small oga to the house one Sunday.”
“Was it the same day he died?” the prosecutor asked emphatically, hitting his index finger on George’s picture in the process.
“Yes sir,” Musa declared.
“Musa, can you please tell this court what you witnessed that Sunday? Please specify small or big oga by using their names. Thank you.”
Musa bowed down his head, locked his fingers, and then went ahead to express himself better in pidgin.
“I been dey gate when oga Tayo come with the man. He say he wan see oga; I don see oga Tayo before but I never see the man before. I ask the man for hin name, he say hin name na George, say hin na oga Tayo friend. I open gate make them enter. He never reach 10 minis wey then enter I start to dey hear plenty noise. I go window go see wetin dey happen, nah hin I see say oga Tayo friend carry pistu. Small time I see big oga and oga Tayo dey fight the man. Small time big oga collect the gun from the man hand come shoot am for belle.”
Emotional Tayo burst out in tears as he couldn’t believe his ears. Emeka just stood there with a smile on his face and folded arms. He was too calm for someone on trial.
“You saw Emeka and Tayo struggle with George?” the prosecutor questioned,
“You also saw Emeka shoot George?”
“Objection my Lord,” Barrister Yejide cuts in. “My colleague is trying to blackmail my clients by asking his witness one sided and leading questions.”
“Objection overruled” the judge ordered and then faced the prosecutor, “continue with your witness.”
“That will be all for now my lord,” the prosecutor answered.
“The counsel for the accused may now have this witness for a cross examination,” the judge continued in reference to Barrister Yejide after he had raised an eyebrow to the prosecutor’s leading question to Musa.
Barrister Yejide stepped forward,
“Musa, you said you saw George with the gun at first. Am I correct?”
“Yes,” Musa replied.
“What was he doing with it?”
“He hold am”
“Of course, it is obvious he was holding it. What was he doing with it? Tell this court, was he playing with it. Did he or did he not have my clients under duress?” Barrister Yeide asked with the tone of his voice hitting a higher pitch. Musa responded with a long silence, and then Barrister Yejide addressed the court,
“My lord, the deceased brought in the gun and created a hostage situation. My clients only acted in self-defense.”
“By killing an innocent man?” the prosecutor interrupted directing his question to the judge “maybe my colleague should tell this court that one of the accused, Mr. Emeka, stole what belonged to the deceased? As a matter of fact his client stole George’s children; a crime punishable under Nigerian Child law.”
“My client did not steal any child. He is a man of reputable character” Patrick retorted, “the children in question are his, my Lord. I am done with this witness for now.”
“My lord” the prosecutor called out, “I will like to call another witness. But before then I will like to present before this court these evidences to corroborate my next witness’ information.”
“Go ahead” the judge ordered.
The prosecutor then went ahead to present the gun that killed the deceased and a laboratory report that affirmed the fingerprints on it matched Emeka’s own.
“Tag these exhibits A and B respectively,” the judge said to the paralegal that took down the evidences.
“You may now call on your witness,” he concluded.
The prosecutor took a deep breath, gave Osahon a heavy gaze and said, “I would like to call on the wife of one of the accused.”