Two days ago…
He moved silently, making sure that no one noticed him. His target was a few feet away from him, speaking boisterously into the microphone. He knew that the man was spewing out lies again, and the foolish masses were gobbling them down like they were manna from heaven. Well, in a way manna would be made available after his presence here; not really manna… more like peanuts.
He was now so close, he could see the man’s guards trying to prevent people from reaching him. Maybe they suspected that he would be dying today, but they would never prevent it.
He got to the front, after slithering through the throng of people like a snake, he looked at his prey with all the hate and anger he had to give. He closed his eyes and saw them, he relived the day his world came crashing down.
He opened his eyes, felt hot tears cascade down his cheeks as he launched the axe he was hiding in his big trench coat. The axe sailed in the air and lodged in the fat man’s heart. The man’s last words of deceit were stuck in his throat as he slumped.
Bull’s eye, he thought, before raising his hands in a form of surrender.
My head was pounding like a secondary school band was practising there. I’d popped pills upon pills, but it was all to no avail. There was only one way to make it stop: end this grueling case that was threatening to tear the state apart, and perhaps the nation too.
I filled the necessary documents and followed the guard who was leading me to the source of all this fracas. Two days ago, this man, this madman had done the unthinkable, he had killed the governor of the state during his campaign rally. He had flung an axe at him, which got buried in the chest of the sexagenarian. The strangest thing was that the man made no attempt to escape after his act; he had just raised his hands and had surrendered.
Of course, there was a mass outrage. Different people were calling for his immediate execution, while many were clamoring for a proper trial. As if things weren’t complicated enough, many international organisations also joined in the fight for a court trail. That was why I was called in—to ascertain the mental state of the criminal.
I entered his nondescript cell and immediately was transfixed by his presence. It wasn’t that he was an imposing man, no, it was the fact that he looked so forlorn and castaway. Simply put, the man was lost.
“Good evening, sir. I’m Chris Igwe. May I know your name?” I said, trying to lighten up the atmosphere.
He stared at me, his eyes acting like probes as they bored at me. “I don’t care about your name. But you can call me Death,” he stated and fixed his eyes on the handcuffs around his wrists as if they held a new fascination for him.
I sat down quietly. There was no other way I could go about it than to be blunt about it. “Why did you kill the governor?”
“My only regret is that I didn’t do it earlier,” he replied.
“You didn’t answer my question.”
“I didn’t?” He smirked. “Well he deserved to die.”
“Why? what do you have against him?” I continued my question. He was determined to make this harder than it was already.
“He took everything from me,” he answered. “Actually, he was silent when everything was being taken away. So I had to make him pay.”
“I don’t understand. What do you—”
“Before I killed him, I could still hear them—my wife and two sons—pleading with me to avenge them. But they’re silent now. They are at peace,” he whispered, as if he was communicating with himself.
“Tell me, what happened to your family?” I probed.
“They died in the Black Wednesday Fire three months ago. I had left them in my shop to rush home and get a file for the appointment I had that afternoon. On my way back, I saw the fire. I wanted to rush to them, to save my family, but I wasn’t allowed to. The people running away from the fire pushed me back. I had to watch helplessly as the market was razed to the ground, with my wife and sons having no means of escape. I lost goods worth eight million naira that day, but they were nothing compared to the pain of losing my family.”
I remembered the day he was talking about. It was one of the most horrific events in the history of the state. So many lives were lost in the fire that followed the fallen fuel tanker explosion. The fire had raged on for hours and there was no emergency fire service nor was there anything the authorities did to remedy the situation. People were roasted to death and properties worth millions were lost. It was also in that fire that my elder brother, Chike lost his only son.
“I understand how you feel,” I began, “but you shouldn’t have taken the law into your hands. Murder is a crime punishable by death.”
He smiled ruefully. “Then two murderers will be dead.”
“You should not—”
“What did the governor do about the situation? He was the person entrusted with protecting the lives and properties of the citizens of the state, right? But he watched as they were lost. The only thing he did was to offer condolences. Last I checked, condolences don’t bring back people from the dead!” he spat out with so much anger that he shook from the force of it.
“You’ll be hanged for this, you know?” I said.
“That’s a chance to be with my family. I welcome it,” he replied.
I stood up, there was nothing else to discuss with him. I’d confirmed that he was in his right senses when he did what he did. As I turned the knob of the door of the room, he said, “You said that I shouldn’t have taken the law into my hands, right? I want to ask you a question: do we have a law in this country?”
I went out. There was no need to give him an answer when the answer was obvious. I submitted my report two days after I met with him and he was tried within forty-eight hours. The verdict was swift and harsh: he was to be hanged the following day. The judge decided to make it a public execution to satisfy the bloodthirsty leaders and the hungry wolves called the masses.
On the day he was executed, everywhere was full with the people who came to see the man who was bold enough to kill a governor. When it was time, he was given a minute to say his final words.
He looked around, staring pointedly at the leaders who came to watch his death. With the noose around his neck, he began, “I wish there can be more people like me. I wish we would have the nerve to stand up to these demons who terrorise us in the guise of leading us. But since there aren’t, I pray that my blood be the water that will grow the next people like me. It’s time to fight for our rights and our future!”
Then the support was removed from his feet and his neck snapped like a twig.
“Finally, the rule of the law has been upheld,” I heard someone say behind me.
In my mind, his words echoed, do we have a law in this country?