- 1.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (III)
- 2.The Mechanics of Yenagoa (XVI)
Saka was back! How did I know this? He was singing again. In fact, he had been singing all day, to the delight of Biodun and BRD and the amusement of our customers.
“Pepper ri pe pepper dey pepper, no go dey do pass yaself, pepper ri pe pepper dey pepper, no go dey do pass yourself…” Saka went on and on all day. For reasons best known to him, he stayed with Kizz Daniel all day, but by early evening, he had switched to Wizkid, and that should have warned me that something was off because it was out of character for him to do that. If you knew Saka well, you’d know that he’s a one-song-a-day kind of guy.
“Eledumare bless you with body oh baby, star boy go bless you with money oh baby – saka saka, saka saka baby, saka saka, saka saka baby, oya gbesi luck up, luck up luck up luck up – ”
“So for ya mind, Wizkid put ya name for him song oh?” BRD clutched his stomach in uncontrollable hilarity but his mockery didn’t deter Saka one bit.
“Saka, saka, saka…” Saka went on singing and making these strange moves with his hands and feet that could have passed for shaku shaku, but Saka wasn’t known for his dance steps. The people in the workshop were in stitches and if I didn’t have so much on my mind, maybe I too would have joined them.
I was torn between confronting Ebiakpo about Anda and letting it go, plus as the time for my meeting drew closer, I began to question the wisdom in letting that small boy Tiekuro threaten my family and walk all over me because he had some lady bouncers. So I’d be hustling and making money and he’d just be collecting it from me, abi?
After everything I had been through, from the failed carjack and near assassination attempt, meeting Barnabas-Treatment, being betrayed by my best friend and girlfriend, to the successful frame-up of Aguero, if I hadn’t grown an extra pair of balls, thick ones for that matter, I never would.
At the close of work, I put a call through to Mr Freedom and when he confirmed to me that his boss, Honourable Aaron, would see me that evening, I had no choice but to request a rescheduling of the meeting with Tiekuro. I lied to him about a family emergency and he didn’t seem to mind since I had assured him that I had his N500k now.
While dressing up for my appointment with my “new boss,” there was a knock on my room door. It was Saka. He said he had something important to discuss with me. I was going to tell him I had somewhere to be, that if it was about him and Agnes, I didn’t want any part of it. But I decided to hear him out.
“Oga Ebinimi, I been hear something for radio this afternoon oh.”
“Ehn, wetin be dat?” I was already looking at the clock on the wall. I didn’t want to be late for my meeting.
“Dem announce for radio three times today say Oga Aguero dey detention for police station because dem see gun and something like kush for him car.”
I froze. Why would Aguero’s arrest make the news? It might have been politically motivated, but Honourable Aaron and his people didn’t warn me about a media blitz. In my head, I was thinking where this was going; I mean Aguero’s arrest and Saka’s strange interest in the story.
“I already heard about it this morning from Adinna.” After a bried pause, I continued: “I didn’t realise it was announced on radio as well.”
“The news surprise me sha, because I sabi how tight two of una dey. As I hear the news finish, I come call Agi.”
“Wetin concern Sister Agnes with Aguero arrest?” Seriously, I wasn’t comfortable with Saka and me having this conversation.
“She bin see something for under bed that day. That na why she bin collapse ayakata.”
“She saw me under the bed, she was shocked. That was why she fainted.”
“That na true, but she also see plenty guns.” I didn’t like where this was going and I told Saka so. “Oga Ebinimi, I like that girl, and I go like marry her. But you know how things don be for this country. We need money to put things together, plus the roof for my papa house for Ogbomosho don almost fall comot.” He stopped talking suddenly – there was no need for him to continue, the message had been passed.
“Something like ₦300k. Unless…”
Saka was blackmailing me. He had been planning this all afternoon and that was why he had been singing and dancing all afternoon. I couldn’t believe the drama unfolding before my eyes.
“Nothing oh, Oga. I just dey tell you because I no know who fit be my helper.” I dismissed him, with a promise to look into his request.
When I met Honourable Aaron in his room at Ebis Hotel, I asked him about the publicity the arrest was getting, and he brushed off my concerns. I also told him there might be trouble with an eyewitness in my compound and he laughed off that as well. He said he was sure I could handle my apprentice without causing trouble for everyone. I had no choice but to assure him that I could deal with the situation.
I hadn’t thought of the how, but I was sure if Saka needed ₦300k for his silence, then maybe it wasn’t such a big problem after all. We discussed Tiekuro and how to put a stop to him and the advice I got from Barnabas left me feeling happy, in fact happier and more relieved than I had felt in months.
The next evening, I made sure to get to the obscure bar along PDP road before Tiekuro and his girls did. The change of venue from Ayalla Hotel to this new location was an idea that came about from my discussion with Honourable Aaron. Luckily for me, Tiekuro didn’t object to it. As I saw them approaching the isolated corner I picked for the meeting, I turned my iPhone face down and slid it between my thighs where no one could see it.
Tiekuro spoke first. “How e dey be na? So, do you have my balance now?”
“I do,” came my response. I brought out a wad of notes from my pocket and placed it on the table.
“This doesn’t look like ₦500k.”
“No, it’s not. It is ₦85k, the exact amount I owe you.”
“E be like say you no like your life oh.” Tiekuro barked. “You wan take me play abi? I go light you, your sister, her husband and their pikin if you no give me my money complete, I swear. Oyintari, oya ask this nigga how him want make we smoke them – bullet or knife?”
“This one when you dey threaten to light person so, you go first tell me wetin we do to deserve am na.”
“You see money for car when no be your own, you spend am. When I say make you return am, you begin dey do me turn turn.”
“But I return ₦415k out of the ₦500k, so your balance suppose be ₦85k. That na why you wan kill me and all my family members?”
“The other ₦500k extra for interest and delayed payment when I been tell you about nko?”
“Tiekuro abi wetin be your name, you sure say you no dey high on some mary jay?”
“See this guy oh, wetin come dey give you morale like this?”
At that point, I felt I had heard enough, so I brought out my phone from between my legs. I placed it on the table so everyone could see it was on, and that the speakerphone mode was activated.
“Mr. Freedom,” I spoke to the phone. “You still dey there?”
“Loud and clear Ebinimi,” came the gruff voice of Aaron Barnabas-Treatment’s PA from the other end of the line.
“What is happening here?” Tiekuro asked, furiously pushing bottles and glasses on the table to the ground.
Since he needed an explanation, I offered him one.
“You see, you were on speakerphone and everything you said has been recorded by my friend on the other end of the phone, who by the way isn’t very far away from here. He can see you and your girls very clearly so you want to consider your next move very carefully,” I advised. “Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, I guess you know what would happen to you, if anything happens to me or anyone in my family.”
“Chai! Chai! Na me you do this kind thing to, me Tiekuro?”
“Thank you Mr. Freedom, I can take it from here.” I ended the call, and then turned to a very subdued and deflated Tiekuro. “You see my friend, I no be bad person. I go give you money, N100k, but you and your lionesses will have to work for it.”
“How do you mean?”
“I would need you and your thugs to take care of a certain nuisance for me.”
“Na who be dat when dey worry you, boss?”
The power dynamics had just changed. I’m sure Tiekuro didn’t realise he just called me “boss.”
“He’s name is Saka; he is one of the mechanics in my workshop.”