Shata jumped to his feet, aiming punches in the air in excitement. He couldn’t believe his luck. He couldn’t believe he had finally found what he was looking for after hitting several dead ends. It took him five weeks and three days, which was way longer than it would have taken him ordinarily if he hadn’t been distracted by his growing affection for Klarissa Edozie. In the end though, he was beyond happy at his discovery. He was ecstatic and relieved that he cracked it within a timeframe that justified the confidence his father had in him and was sure to impress Chief Edozie.
For the second time that morning, Shata reached for the bottle of scotch in his drawer and took a sip of the strong alcohol to calm his nerves. He was going to call his father and share the good news with him, but then he remembered that Ambassador Nebu Anele had told him he would be busy for most of the day. Knowing how relieved and elated his father would be when he briefed him of his discovery, Shata took another slug of his beverage. Until he and his father could seat down for a drink, the solo celebration was in order.
Shata was proud of himself. His findings were explosive and certain to cause a firestorm in the Edozie empire when the truth was revealed to Chief Edozie. Even though the mogul was in a secret location because of the ancestral debacle he was entangled in, Shata could swear that he would come out of his hiding and treatment for this one. He knew Chief Edozie would want to hear this in person. What business owner wouldn’t want to hear first-hand, the great conspiracy by some of the people he trusted the most to defraud him and maybe bring down his company? An email or even a virtual meeting on Zoom, Skype or Microsoft Team just wouldn’t do.
When Shata began tracing Donald Wakama’s stolen funds, little did he know that the audit would lead to the person that put him to the task in the first place. He couldn’t have guessed that the dirt trail would end right at the doorstep of the CEO of Edozie Express – the very person supervising the process.
The first part of the audit led him to several suspicious and unauthorised withdrawals and transfers from the company’s accounts by Donald Wakama. On a hunch, he reached out to his contacts in the Central Bank and across all the commercial banks in the country. Money exchanged hands and they came back with the information he wanted.
In his many years of investigating financial crimes, especially corporate crimes involving top management, Shata had come to know that there was always the culprit and his co-conspirators. Donald Wakama had been fingered as the culprit, what Shata had to figure out was who his partners in crime were.
What Shata Anele found out when his contacts in the commercial banks started getting back to him was shocking. It was information illegally obtained, but when he saw the results, he knew every naira his father gave him to facilitate his work was worth it. And, he was glad he listened to his instinct and kept his modus operandi to himself so no one in Edozie Express knew that he was looking into the financial history of the directors and top managers.
What Shata Anele found was that every time Donald Wakama moved money from Edozie Express accounts, two or three days later a huge cash deposit was made into Ohita Edozie’s account. This happened over the course of two years and it wasn’t coincidental. Ohita Edozie was complicit and neck deep in the thievery committed by his late predecessor. all the others were in the clear.
Shata reached for the bottle of scotch again. Until he was able to speak to his father later in the day, he decided to dig in deeper and compile all the evidence he would be needing for his report to the man he and his father were determined to bring down.
Shata couldn’t mask his surprise when he got a call from the reception that his father was in the lobby of Edozie Express waiting to see him. The very person he wanted to speak with on the phone had appeared in person, and without warning.
They had spoken that morning for about ten minutes and in that conversation, his father gave no indication that he was on his way to Yenagoa to see him. He didn’t even reveal that he was on his way to the airport or maybe already at the airport as at the time they spoke. Which obviously must have been the case, judging by the time he got the call from the front desk informing him of the arrival of his unexpected visitor from Abuja.
Pushing aside his MacBook, and the Excel spreadsheet containing the last set of payments authorised by his predecessor he was studying for red flags and tie-ins with Mrs. Edozie, Shata jumped to his feet. He was unsure whether to wait for Ambassador Nebu Anele by the door of his office or to go down to the lobby and usher him up himself.
The elevator opened just as Shata Anele was about to press the down button. Out came his father wearing a well-tailored navy-blue Senator that blended well with the navy-blue crocodile skin slippers and navy-blue walking stick he carried. On any other man his age, the monotone assemblage might have come across as garish, but on the towering frame of his father, it was a fashion statement and a testament that old age was vintage and regal.
They shook hands like old friends rather than father and son. Shata led the way to his big office with a great view of the city streets.
“Pops, you should have told me you were coming! I would have driven to the airport myself to pick you,” Shata said, still surprised that his father would show up in his office in the manner he did.
“I didn’t tell you I was coming because I wanted to put you on the spot. I want you to realise that you have an important assignment here and I am not impressed with your pace.” Nebu Anele replied bluntly. “Shata, I think you are distracted. That is why I came here in person to straighten you out and bring you back to the programme.”
“Did you hear anything, pops?” Shata was perplexed by the unexpected attack.
“Apart from what you told me about Rowland dying, I haven’t heard anything else from you. Shata, what is going on. I thought you would have come up with something by now.”
“Pops, I know how busy you are, that’s why I don’t bother you all the time with information. When Klarissa told me her dad might be dying, I was shocked and I told you immediately because I thought it was something you should know. If the man we are trying to destroy was dying then maybe we want to change our strategy. And I have a plan, a new plan, pops.”
“How do you mean?”
“If Chief Edozie is dying like his daughter said, and I don’t have any reason to doubt her, instead of destroying the company and losing everything, I could marry Klarissa. That way we get to control the company and all the money becomes ours.”
“You see, what you just said about his daughter Klarissa, that was why I came. I suspected something was wrong when you started speaking about her with so much affection.”
“How do you mean?”
“I think you have feelings for her.”
“Pops, Klarissa and I are dating. We are in a relationship now. I thought I told you that already.”
“Are you in love with her?” Ambassador Anele asked his son.
“I like her very much.”
“Shata, this your falling in love with Rowland’s daughter wasn’t part of the plan. That isn’t why I brought you here. You weren’t supposed to come to Yenagoa and fall in love with this Klarissa, even if she is an angel straight from heaven.”
“Pops, think about it this way. If I marry her, we get to inherit the company.”
“And Mrs Edozie, what happens to her?” the older Anele asked. “She is the current CEO. How does the company become ours or yours, when she is still the boss and has been running the company very effectively since she was appointed Managing Director?”
“Pops, she would be taken out. We have to take her out.”
“You want us to eliminate her?”
“Yes Pops. But I don’t think she’s a problem though because she just may have taken herself out of the equation.”
“How?” an impatient Nebu Anele asked his son.
“Pops, I’ve got mind-blowing information for you. I just found out moments ago, that Mrs. Edozie is deeply involved in the Wakamagate. They committed the fraud together. They were partners in crime.”
“Don’t say!” Ambassador Anele was stunned at this information.
“So, all we have to do now is find a way of reaching Chief Edozie with my findings and report, and that’s it. She’d be out of here. Her husband would kick her out himself and I can replace her as CEO. Tell me pops, what man would stay married to a woman that has been stealing from his company and keeping secrets from him?”
“Wow! This is explosive. How did you find this out?”
“Remember when I asked you to send some money over so I could reach out to some of my friends in the various banks in the country? Well, because of that money, they all went to work for me. It turns out Mrs. Ohita Edozie banks with First Bank and Zenith Bank. What her bank statement shows, is that every time Wakama takes out money from her husband’s company, part of the money ended up in those two accounts. The rest went into Wakama’s account, but when you summed up the two figures, they always tallied with the amount Wakama took out from the company.”
“So, we report this to Edozie, he gets rid of his wife, you marry his daughter and Edozie Express become ours again?”
“Yes. Simple but completely achievable.”
“What if Edozie doesn’t die before his next birthday like his daughter said?”
“We can make sure he does, can’t we?”
“How do we do that?”
“The curse? Please explain.”
“According to Klarissa, because of the curse, the men in Edozie family die before they turn fifty-five. We just have to make sure that this happens. Let us help his village people bring the curse to pass. Once Ohita Edozie is out of the way, we move in and permanently get rid of him and his sons.”
“Shata, we are moving into dangerous territory with this new plan of yours. Our initial plan was to find enough dirt on Chief Edozie and his financial transactions because I know that every businessman in Nigeria has some secret that can get them in jail if the authorities found out. Your access to his books will give us enough information to destroy him and his businesses forever. That was the plan. I just want to destroy Edozie Express.”
“Why destroy the company when we can own it? Don’t worry Pops, I will handle this. I have connections that go way back to my undergraduate days. One phone call and every obstacle on our way would be taken out, for good.”