ROOM 39| CHAPTER 16
The following day when Chika came to the office, the DNI organised a meeting during which an investigative body was set up to examine what led to Chukwuma’s death and who was or were responsible. Chika was expecting to head the committee given that the new building was meant to house her unit, and she is the most senior person in the antiterrorism squad since her recent promotion as the director of the unit.
The most surprising thing, however, is that she was asked not to participate in any shape or form in the investigation throughout the process of the investigation; she was not to ask any of the members questions regarding the investigation nor suggest any path she thinks they should investigate. According to the DNI Director, there were other important developments that the agency wanted her to focus on. She could go on with her role as the Director of the Unit. Chika was very mad with him and with everyone that took such a senseless decision.
After the meeting, Chika asked to meet with the Director. When she entered his office, the DNI director was already set with his answer. As Chika began to pour out her frustration over the decision to exclude her from the investigation committee, the director was unmoved. When she was done, he told her that her relationship with Chukwuma is the main reason why she was being excluded from the committee. He doesn’t want her to be emotionally involved in the investigation.
He told her that he learnt that she visited Chukwuma’s house last night after the incident, and that approach without following due process was unacceptable. All of Chika’s plea fell on deaf ears, as the Director was bent on leaving her out of the entire process, not because she’s a suspect, but because she would lack objectivity in her approach.
Two weeks ago, while the new building was at its final phase, the DNI Director called Chika to have some progress reports. Chika gave him updates on how everything was going and told him that the building would be completed earlier than the scheduled opening date.
While Chika spoke, the Director nodded and asked very few questions, unlike the other times when they had met for progress reports. Chika wasn’t comfortable with his cold attitude and desired to know if anything was the matter. After multiple trials, the Director told her that there were reports of her affair with Chukwuma. Chika tried to refute them, asking the Director to treat them as rumours, because that is what they are. She acknowledged seeing Chukwuma a few times outside his office, but even then, they were strictly official meetings except for a dinner appointment they had with their family present. Moreover, she wasn’t over the death of Ikem yet; ‘it’d be insulting to Ikem’s memory to go after another man now, while investigations into his death are still ongoing, although very slowly,’ she added.
What the Director doesn’t know is that Chika hasn’t given up on her quest to unravel the behind the scenes of Ike’s death. All she is doing, both with her office and her relationship with Chukwuma, is to find useful information that would help her uncover the truth behind Ike’s supposed accident. To date, no one has found his body despite numerous searches in the said river.
Chukwuma and indeed others may have thought that Chika was increasingly growing fond of him, but those were mere illusions. What Chukwuma was seeing were projections of his mind, as far as Chika was concerned. However, Chika liked his personality, and even if she didn’t get any leads from Chukwuma in the end, she still wants to maintain a cordial relationship with his family, especially with the daughter Jane, a truly fantastic young lady that loves Chika’s son Ebuka as his little brother.
After her explanations, the Director asked her to be very careful with her relationship with Chukwuma, as such an intimate relationship may pose a threat to national security given the secret information that Chika is privy to. She nodded in agreement and since then further reduced his conversation with Chukwuma.
Chika wouldn’t listen to being kept out of the investigation. She doesn’t understand why the DNI Director would exclude her from such an important case given her new role as director of the Antiterrorism unit. ‘Am I one of the suspects because of my relationship with Chukwuma? Is Chukwuma’s death in some way linked to the death of Ikem? Could the murderer be the same person that killed Ikem? What are they trying to cover up?’ were some of the questions that kept racing through Chika’s mind. Whatever the answers were, she perceived that something was fishy about the whole incident.
The security operatives she met at the crime scene hadn’t many details to give to her. When she attempted contacting the Attorney General’s office to have access to the forensic report, her request was denied. All of these made Chika desire to unearth the truth behind these two high profile murders – she considers Ike’s death as murder. So, besides the death of Ikem, Chika was determined to know who killed Chukwuma, and she was willing to go to any length on her own.
When she drove home that day, she decided to confide in her father Dede. All the while, her father had observed how she reacted whenever the discussion of Ike’s death came up. She would always disbelieve the account of his death to a point that everyone around felt she’s a bit mentally unstable. But her father, being a veteran, shared the same opinion as herself, although he kept his thoughts to himself.
So, when Chika began talking about the gruesome murder of Chukwuma, his father paid close attention. She explained how his relationship with Chukwuma was purely professional, although Chukwuma wanted more. For her, she wanted to see if Chukwuma would help with some information regarding Ike’s death seeing how close he was to the FBI Director. She also explained how the DNI is completely excluding her from the investigation into Chukwuma’s death, citing unfounded allegations of an amorous relationship between her and Chukwuma.
After the explanations, Chika decided to intimate the father of her plans to proceed with the investigation privately. She has been investigating the death of Ike and believes there’s some connection between the two cases, although she can’t concretely point at how and where.
The father assures Chika that he would protect his little boy Ebuka and Chika’s mom if Chika decided to take some time off to run a private investigation. That he was willing to sacrifice his life for theirs, after all, despite his sacrifice for the country, the country didn’t reward him as much. The only things he had left are Chika, Ebuka and his wife. And he would fight to know who killed his son-in-law.
The next day, Chika got to the office quite early to do her normal duties. But her intentions were to finish early and visit the site of the incident. So, when she was done with her office duties, she drove to the new building. On reaching the crime scene, she met with some investigators who to a great extent kept their findings secret seeing they were instructed to report only to the Directors of the DNI and FBI. When they told her that no arrests were made yet and there was no one on the list of most wanted people, she was confused.
‘The new building was meant to house the Antiterrorism Unit of the nation. It has all the security fitting in place to make it impossible for anyone to escape without leaving a fingerprint, footprint, video image or any other form of evidence.’ She thought to herself. ‘If Chukwuma was killed inside room 39, and the security officers arrived at the scene almost immediately, how did the killer escape the building in the first place? And how was it possible for the security cameras not to have captured him?’ she kept musing as she walked around the building. ‘Or could it be that the killer is actually among the security officers that came that night to the crime scene?’ She continued.
Mbe and his men had left the crime scene the night of Chukwuma’s assassination before Chika arrived, so she couldn’t tell if they were there or not. So, Chika asked the investigators to tell her the names of all the people that came that night to the crime scene and at what time each arrived. The investigators declined her request citing the same reasons the DNI director had given the day of the committee’s constitution. Chika got offended with them and left the building.
One of the people in the committee that was set up by the DNI to investigate the death of Chukwuma was Chika’s junior colleague in the antiterrorism unit. So, after the incident at the crime scene, Chika contacted him privately and asked for some information regarding their investigations. He refused to talk over the phone and instead preferred a physical meeting at night in one of the restaurants in a neighbouring city. He knows how sensitive the investigation is and was aware that his phone was being monitored just like those of all the members of the committee.
Chika continued to visit the crime scene repeatedly, ignoring the warnings of the DNI Director. On one of those occasions, she observed a dark blue Ford vehicle trailing her. Mbe’s team observed that Chika was getting more and more interested in the case and was afraid that she might see something incriminating. Initially, they thought to kill her, but Mbe refused, preferring rather to trail her, peradventure she’s able to get into the building and help them recover the stolen items that Chukwuma kept inside Room 39.
One of the afternoons when Chika left her office for lunch, one of the members of Mbe’s team sneaked into her office and hid a tiny electronic device in her jacket. Seeing that Chika’s office is constantly checked for security purposes, Mbe thought to hide the microphone on her clothing. That way they’re able to both hear her conversations inside and outside the office whenever she wears that jacket. They’d also be able to monitor her exact location whenever she has that jacket with her. It was a better option than having the device affixed to the curtain in her office or on the back of Ike’s picture frame on her desk.
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