There was no mention in all of the gossip blogs about the particular Aristo, JiJi had spent the night with. What I still wondered about till this day was whether Honest Tafia had actually arrived before or just after Femai had escaped. Had he seen everything but was warned by the federal investigation team to keep his mouth shut?
The version of the story printed in the national newspapers was that Nelson Femai was attending a very important security meeting at Springwood Hotel on that day which ran into the night. He then decided to spend the night at the hotel. Few hours before dawn, some unknown armed men stormed his hotel room shooting and setting the place on fire. Femai managed to escape while the fire service and ambulance was called to the scene to stop the fire and manage casualties. There was now an ongoing federal investigation to fish out the culprits responsible for this.
Topmost on the list of suspects was a much feared international smuggling cartel running under a faceless group which went by the name ‘Sillah’. Femai had used his jurisdiction two weeks before then to confiscate a suspicious-looking barge which was loaded with crude oil. A thorough look at the bill of lading and other documents showed the cargo wasn’t authorized to leave Nigerian waters. The seized barge had remained under naval control, pending when proper investigation on how the stolen crude oil got into the barge would be concluded.
Sillah had immediately sent emissaries to Femai to plead for their consignment to be released. They even offered him a mouth-watering bribe. Femai had refused and sent them away with a strong warning to whoever their boss was never to return to him again or face being arrested. The federal investigation department strongly believed Sillah was behind the assassination attempt on Femai’s life so they made sure the media did not report any sensitive information on the matter so as not to compromise their investigations.
Femai had already been eulogized by the mainstream media as a fine naval officer who was ready to stick out his neck to defend the integrity of his country. Adding that bit of him spending the night at a hotel with an undergraduate female student would do no good for his image and so every trace of JiJi being with him that night was erased from history. My sister was left alone to her fate; lying in a hospital bed, drenched in pain and covered with shame.
The doctor had slowly broken the news to JiJi about the consequences of her jump down the hotel balcony. She had landed hard on one foot while she slipped down with the other leg as she landed on the ground. The impact had fractured her pelvis and lower spine, killing every sensation from her waist down. She may never be able to walk again and she may most likely never be able to bear children of her own. JiJi didn’t take the news very well, she was totally hysterical. She cried and screamed out so loud that the doctor had to sedate her. Much later in the day, she had become considerably calm; even making plans for her future. I couldn’t tell if it was the effect of the drugs given to sober her up but JiJi wanted to know how we were going to break the news to our parents.
For the next few days, we talked about how she was going to manage her health. They were a couple of corrective surgeries the doctor had recommended might help to improve her condition but that it wasn’t guaranteed to make her walk again. She was encouraged to keep her fingers crossed and be optimistic. In the mean time, she needed money for medication. Some of the drugs prescribed were quite expensive, and she needed to take them for a reasonable amount of time before seeing any effect. She also needed to be on a wheel chair in order to get back to her studies.
Femai as was expected was avoiding her phone calls. When she became persistent with her calls, a man who claimed he was his publicity secretary warned her never to call Femai’s number again. He reminded her that she was just an escort to the officer on that night that was duly paid for her services. She was also told that Femai was a well respected naval officer, a responsibly married man with children who were excelling in their different fields of study at home and abroad. The officer would not want to stake all his enviable achievements over a little greedy girl and so she should keep away.
I watched JiJi closely as her face registered the shock of the reality dawning on her. I shall never forget the words my sister said to me that night. Six piercing words that would forever haunt me and make me come to appraise the rationality of young girls living their lives on the fast lane, just to measure up to society’s senseless standards of class and achievement. She said: “All this for ten thousand naira?”
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Story Written By: Peace Ben Williams
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