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_episode 23_

Karo received the news from Timothy with excitement. He quickly rushed to the hospital to meet with them. He tried to see James but he was informed that James was still in a coma. Omo had woken up but the police were interviewing her concerning the Motherhood Assurance issue, so he could not see her. He therefore went with Benji and Nanny to see the detective handling the missing baby’s case. It turned to be detective Boniface too, the detective handling the shooting of Omo and James.
At the station, the detective informed them that he was on the case. What they needed now was the whereabouts of Lady Janice. Nanny told them to ask the gate man. The gate man at Lady Janice’s house was brought in but he informed them that though he knows his madam has other properties, he does not know where they are situated.


Omo woke up again and this time, she gave the police information on Motherhood Assurance. The detective took some men and went to Prof. Amaka’s residence but found it empty. They quickly rushed to her offices. Although she was absent, they tried to get a list of partners, her NGO worked it. On the list, they did not find Motherhood Assurance. The detective returned back to the hospital disappointed.
He met Mama and Omo talking quietly when he got into the room. Omo looked at him expectantly,
Detective: “we found no evidence that your boss had any interest or business with this Motherhood Assurance.”
Omo sighed quietly.
“I almost died because of this matter; will I let it go like this? No Prof. Amaka must pay for this.” She thought sadly to herself.


Mama looked at the two of them for a minute,
Mama: “what are you talking about?”
Detective looked at her, surprise on his face, then he went on to explain what Omo had told him before. Omo then told her that it was because of the document, she and James had been shot by that man. Mama looked at them surprised,
Mama: “nobody said anything to me o. I thought the shooting was due to Ufouma’s matter o. I have the document at home.”
Detective: “you have what?”
Mama: “that night James was acting weird and I remembered that Omo asked that he go through the documents and get back to her. So I took a copy of the papers to my room, with the intention that I will give him when he is in a better mood.”
Detective: “where is the document now?”
Mama: “at my place”
Detective: “oya let us go and get it.”
The two of them immediately left Omo’s room and headed for Mama’s house.



The man entered the police station dressed as a lawyer. He informed the police constable on duty that he is a lawyer sent to represent David Obatare. David Obatare was brought out and placed in the interrogation room. The fake lawyer went in and sat with him. They sat and spoke for several minutes, after which they got up and shook hands with him. David withdrew his hand quickly as something nicked him. The man apologised and he left.


As he got to the entrance to the police station, a man started shouting “He is the one! Hold him! Hold him!” immediately, the sound of guns cocking filled the air. The man turned to see guns pointed at him and voices ordering him to lie down.
“if I try to run, I will be shot. I have to play for time.” He thought to himself as he stared at the guns pointed at him.
Man: “what is the meaning of this? I will sue you for defamation of character if you are not careful. Has it gotten to this level that a barrister is treated with such ignominy?” he asked in annoyance.
Then he saw the person that had pointed him out, it was the director of Hope Orphanage, Mr Jero, the man he had gotten the list of names from.
“This was Lady Janice’s job o. her infatuation with a baby will be the downfall of us all. Well, what can I say, it was a good run.” The man thought as he smiled and cracked the cyanide capsule inside his mouth which he had kept for such an emergency.
The policemen watched as the fake lawyer fell to the ground jerking and foaming in the lips. As they rushed to him, he jerked his last and died. At that same moment, a police constable rushed in to inform the police officer on duty that David Obatare had died in his cell. Policemen rushed there to see David lying in a pool of vomit and urine, very dead. It was obvious that he too had been poisoned.


Matron dropped her phone on the table. She quickly went to the store and picked a box of matches and a gallon of kerosene. She went back to her office, opened her file cabinet and dumped all the files on the ground. She called her assistant and gave her orders for them to evacuate quickly. She poured kerosene on the documents, lit a stick of match and dropped it on the documents. She didn’t seat back to watch it burn but picked her bag and ran out of the office.
Alarms were ringing in the company premises. Women who had come for solutions to their myriad problems were running around in confusion. Some of them were heading to their cars; some on barefoot, some with a baby or two in their arms. Cars started leaving the premises in droves.


At the gate those fleeing met the police checkpoint.
Cars were being stopped and people were asked to identify themselves. The police were working on information gotten from Omo’s file. Matron tried to disguise herself in all the commotion but she was caught by the police and taken into custody. In the interrogation room, Matron spilled all she knew about the operations of Motherhood Assurance, Prof. Amaka’s role in it and the names of its board of directors.


Karo got home to meet his parents and the Effiongs praying. He looked at them for some minutes, shook is head and turned to walk away.
Esther: Karo, please don’t leave.”
Karo stopped and turned to look at them.
Karo: “I just came to tell you that the man Rukevwe left her baby with has been found. The baby, whom he named Ufouma has been kidnapped by a Lady Janice Akpomieimie, a big woman in this town I believe. Her whereabouts is presently unknown. The man, James is his name, is in a coma as a result of gunshot wounds he received recently.


I am going now to look for ways to find out the woman’s present location.”
Esther gasped in surprise.
Esther: “praise God.”
Samson stepped forward to Karo, his eyes casted down in shame.


Samson: “bros please forgive me for my mistakes. Let me help in finding this child. Let me try in any way to atone for my mistakes.” He stretched his hand and placed it on Karo’s shoulder.
Karo jerked away from him.
Karo: “don’t touch me. I don’t care for your apologies. You don’t owe me any apology. You did what you thought best, I have also done what I thought best. So we are even.”
Josiah: “What does that mean, young man? Oghenekaro, what did you do?”
Karo turned to his father, his eyes filled with contempt


“I sent robbers to his house and took money from him. Since he felt he was boss because he was born into wealth, I showed him that money…”
Samson dived at Karo and punched him in the face. The two young men were on the ground rolling and fighting. Esther and Imabong were screaming and begging them to stop. Prince Etim sat quietly looking at the fighting pair speculatively. He looked at Josiah Badmus and raised a glass of juice he had poured himself in a toast.


After some minutes they separated
Samson: “you fool! those robber caused my wife a miscarriage.” He screamed, tears in his eyes, pain in his heart.
Karo: “now you know how it feels. A life for a life; Welcome to our world.”
Esther: “Oghenekaro, that is callous of you.”
Karo: “what! Please I have things to do. Are you still coming?” he asked, looking at the bristling Samson.
Samson’s anger fled away like a pierced ballon.


“What am I angry for? He has given me an opening for forgiveness and I should take it. He knows what he did was wrong but he also knows that whether or not the robbers had come, Kelly would not have had that baby. He is a better man than I am.” Ssamson thought to himself and nodded his head.
Samson: “let us go.”
The two young men left the house and the tension in the sitting room eased.




_Final episode 24_

Detective in search of information concerning the whereabouts of Lady Janice went back to Matron.
Detective: “The list of the board of directors included a lady Janice Akpomiemie. Do you know where she resides?”
Matron: “she lives in Warri now.” she answered angrily.
Detective: “do you know where she is now?”
Matron: “I don’t but Prophetess will know.”
She then went on to give them Prophetess’ address.


Two policeman dressed casually, a man and a woman, went to Prophetess’ residence and asked to see her. They were informed that she was unavailable as she is doing a program for someone. They asked for the location and they were told to go to a village in Delta state near the Ethiope river.
Policemen were mobilised and they drove for Delta state immediately.


Timothy stood at the airport with his passport. He stared at the queue, quietly waiting his turn
“I have done my part. It is time for me to exit this country. Karo did right by me. Correct friend.” He thought to himself as he walked closer to the counter.
Somebody brushed passed him, hitting him to the side, he turned to see who did it. All he saw was a man in suit walking fast. His eyes glazed and he slipped to the floor as he saw the person turn and smile a cruel smile at him.


“fuck, I forgot about him. The stupid fool got me.” He thought as he collapsed on the floor. An airport security man ran to him and held him, shaking him as blood pooled around him.
Timothy: “the fool got me… Ballz” he whispered as the security man called for aid.
Before help could come, Timothy died.


The prayer house was silent. There was no one in sight. The policemen walked on silent feet, guns cocked. Slowly they moved through the compound until they got to the back of the house. As they entered the backyard, they met a girl dressed in white wrapper and she froze. They beckoned her silently and asked her to take them to the prophetess. She led them down a path overgrown with weeds into the bush until they got a house painted white, situated at the edge of the river. She knocked and said her name, then she stepped aside.


The door opened to reveal Prophetess, her face covered with white chalk, her eyes shining with fear on seeing guns pointed at her in the torch lit night. The policemen roughly pushed her back into the room and there on a mat sat Lady Janice with Ufouma in her arms. She was suckling the baby with her breast. A policewoman quickly snatched the baby from her and confirmed that it was indeed Ufouma. Prophetess and Lady Janice was arrested. Lady Janice immediately demanded for her lawyer but was slapped shut by an angry female police woman
Police woman: “it is women like you who give women a bad name. rubbish… come and see lawyer now. You are going to spend the rest of your life suckling other toothless women in jail. devil!” the police woman spat and pushed her forward into the truck.


At the police station, the detective ended a call and turned to look at the attentive faces seated in front of him
Detective: “she has been found”
Everybody shouted in excitement. Karo nodded his head and shook hands with Benji. He quickly called his mother to inform her of the good news. He thanked the detective and stepped out for some air. Samson came out with him.
Samson: “What happens to Ufouma now?”


Karo looked him over and smiled
Karo: “you cant have her o. She is all we have of Rukevwe. No matter what my father or mother may say. You can come visit, you can participate in her life if you want but she lives with us. You have lost your rights to her” He said, walking away.
Samson: “what happens then to the man in a coma because of her?” he asked, looking at the retreating back of Karo.
Benji: “very good question,my young man. Very good question” He replied, stepping out of the detective’s office.


Esther burst into tears when Ufouma was placed in her arms. She wept, singing songs of praise. Princess Imabong who was there with the family danced and sang with her. Soon other family members came to celebrate with the family.
Josiah: “she was named well… Ufouma is a good name. It is a good name.”he said, his voice choked with emotion.
Karo entered the house quietly. He had just heard of Timothy’s death and his last words. He was not in a good mood. He walked quickly to where everyone was gathered looking at Ufouma.


Karo: “I want to be clear on something. I feel for Samson and his wife but they will not have this child.”
Esther: “No o…who said they will. Who? This is all i have of my daughter, who wants to take her from me?”she replied, holding the gurgling baby possessively.
Samson nodded his head, turned and walked out of the house.


Omo and Mama sat by James’ bed. Omo was reading the papers aloud. She still had bandages on her shoulder but she was mending fine and had been discharged a week before. Mama was knitting a sweater.
Omo: “Lady Janice Akpomiemeie and her accomplices have been arraigned at a magistrate court in Benin. The charges include kidnapping, assault, blah blah… The General Overseer of Greater God Tabernacle of Faith Ministries, Pastor Josiah Badmus did a thanksgiving on Sunday for the recovery of his granddaughter Ufouma Badmus from the hands of kidnappers and Warri high society lady, Lady Janice Akpomiemie and also for God’s divine intervention in the life of his family and friends. In his sermon, he spoke of forgiveness, empathy, and understanding and of love…” she paused and looked at James.
Omo: “his eyes twitched, ma.” she said excitedly.


Mama looked up from her knitting. They both watched him avidly. James’ eyes twitched again then it opened. Mama quickly rushed out to call the doctor, while Omo rushed to him and held him close crying. James moaned in pain and Omo quickly removed her weight laughing through tears.
The doctor came in and ran a check of James’ vital signs. When he was done, he looked at James and smiled,
Doctor: “welcome back, man. We were almost giving up on you.”
Mama laughed standing at the door. They had all been worried when he had not woken up when Omo did.
James: “Ufouma?” his voice a whisper.
Omo: “She has been found o. She is with her grandparents. Do you know that she is the granddaughter of Pastor Josiah Badmus?”
James nodded his head
James: “I am glad.” He replied sadly then he closed his eyes and slept off.
Omo turned to look at the doctor in worry.
Doctor: “don’t worry. He is fine. He just needs his rest. I will be back to check on him.”


Two weeks later, James was discharged. He wanted to go home but Omo refused. She took him to her own place with Mama’s approval. He was told to do nothing but eat and rest. He did nothing but mourn.
Every day, he came out and looked to the river where he had first seen Ufouma. He would seat for long hours staring into space. Omo and Mama tried to enliven the atmosphere but nothing seemed to work. He was healing fine physically but psychologically, James was sick. He had stopped caring.


One afternoon, James seated in his normal spot watched as several cars drove into the compound. Omo came out to see. The cars packed and people started coming out. Omo gasped in surprise to see Mama carrying Ufouma. She turned to look as James stood up with a smile in his face. Mama gave the baby to him. The baby cooed and giggled, James burst into laughter.


Esther: “thank you very much for what you did for my daughter and what you did for Ufouma here. If not for you, we would never have seen her. Thank you and God bless you.”
Benji: “Bro, you have a job now as the general manager of Effiong Cements o. The salary is stupendous. we will discuss that later.”
James said nothing; he just stared at the baby and smiled. Everybody stood watching him as he tickled Ufouma and laughed with her. After some time, his face clouded and he gave the baby back to Esther and walked back into the house.
Josiah: “where are you going to? She’s your daughter as much as ours. She has come to spend some time with you. We will come to pick her next month.”
James stopped and turned then he burst into tears and laughter at the same time.
He carried Ufouma again and started shaking everybody’s hands. Omo invited them into the house. Soon food which Esther had prepared from home was being served and drinks were going around.


Karo walked in some minutes later, soaked wet. It was raining already. Omo found a towel for him and gave him one of James’ smaller shirts. He said his thanks and picked a glass of liquor Benji had poured for him, as he sought a seat, his father came to him
Josiah: “I know we don’t always see eye to eye and i have made my own mistakes but i am willing to start afresh and get to know you again, if you will let me.”
Karo looked at him for a minute, and then saw his mother watching them, worry on her face.


Karo:”that would be nice.” He replied smiling.
Josiah smiled and patted Karo on the shoulder. He turned and looked at James, and then he walked to him. James sat with Ufouma asleep in his arms. He sat beside him
Josiah: “She is a gift you know?”
James: “I do. She healed me and she will heal you too, you’ll see.”
Josiah nodded his head and the two men watched the others talking and laughing. It was family, it was love.
Josiah: “thank you Rukevwe for this.” He whispered, his eyes staring at the ceiling.
He looked down as James passed Ufouma to him so he, James, could take a plate of food from Omo.




Prof.Amaka Emenike was never seen again. Her car was found close to the border. Her bag containing clothes was at the back seat. They found bloodstains on the driver seat but no body was found. Lady Janice and Prophetess were each sentenced to 10 years in prison. Matron was sentenced to 25 years.
Ballz was found a year later after killing Timothy at a village in Oyo state. His body was found in a well, swollen. The villagers said a stranger had come to the village before he died. The description fitted Karo but nothing was proven.


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