The large mansion was located in the highly exclusive Victoria Garden City area of Lekki. It was less than six hundred yards from the breezy Atlantic Ocean and the steady sea air swept through its lovely gardened grounds.
It was a lovely Saturday afternoon and a celebratory atmosphere was upon the large mansion. The large parking lot within the compound was packed with very expensive vehicles and they overflowed onto the street outside. Hefty bodyguards in smart dark suits were spread out all over the place in a tight security set that was prepared for any trouble.
About two hundred guests were being entertained out on the shaded lawns to the side of the large mansion house. Most of the male guests were important looking men and they had their families with them. It all looked like a very normal party but it wasn’t, which was why most of them had come very early.
This was the fifty-second birthday celebration of Madam Augustina Benson, aka Madam T, head of Black Axe crime family, one of the most powerful crime families in Nigeria with connections overseas, and so most of the VIPs of the criminal world had come together from far and wide to pay homage. Still, there were those that came to do quick business as Madam T was known to be quite generous and gentle-hearted on such a special day, which was a rare thing indeed.
A popular musician and his crew were performing in the middle of the lawn and the guests, mostly seated in small groups at tables arranged all around, were enjoying the endless supplies of refreshments, chatting and laughing happily together as they mingled and waited patiently for the celebrant to emerge from the house.
Madam Augustina Benson, richly dressed for the occasion but attending to business, sat in behind the big high polished desk in the air-conditioned comforts of the large study that was her office. Business before pleasure, that was her rule. She sat comfortably in her high-backed swivel chair, listening attentively to the words of the well-dressed elderly man seated in one of the two chairs across the desk from her. Helen, her lovely adopted daughter, and Louis, her nephew, and powerful right-hand man were sitting on the long white leather sofa to one side of the room, listening attentively too. Two big bodyguards in smart dark suits stood close by the door.
“…. my son, he was rushed to hospital by some his friends while the security people at the night club called in the police and handed over the cultist who shot him. My son died the next day and that was when I found out that the boy who shot him had already been released to his father who was a top politician in the ruling party. It was now murder so the police arrested him again but took eternality to charge him to court while his father kept trying to persuade me to drop the case. I refused and insisted that the matter must to go to court and my son’s killer had to go to jail as deserved. The man finally told me to my face that his son would never see the inside of a prison. Next thing I knew, the murder weapon went missing in police custody. The persecutors said we still had a good chance with the witnesses but on the day of the trial, when we got to the court, four of the seven witnesses had suddenly developed blank memories. For some unknown reason, the judge threw out the testimonies of the remaining three witnesses and then dismissed the case. I just stood there like an old fool and watched my son’s killer and his father walked free. They looked at me and laughed and there was nothing I could do about it. The day after I buried my only boy, I just knew I had to get justice for him because I couldn’t eat or sleep anymore. I have come to you for that justice since the law failed me.” concluded the elderly man with a heavy sigh that was a reflection of his emotional burden. “I want to be able to sleep and eat normally again, madam, and that can only come from having some peace in my heart over my son’s death.”
There was complete silence in the room as the man finished then Madam T sighed.
“You know, John,” she began gently, still relaxed in her high-backed chair. “If you had accepted my offer of investment in your business, that would have brought you and your family under my protection and none of this would have ever happened. My men would have stepped in the first time the police failed to handle the threat of the cultists.”
The man sighed again and spoke with deep gravity. “There is no undoing the past, but it is possible to fix things in the present to make the future better,”. “Whatever you offer might be now, I accept it. The legal aspect will be seen to in due course, but please, give me what I want now.”
Madam T inclined her head. “And that is?”
“Justice for my son,” said the elderly man at once. “I want the cultist who killed him dead too. I want his father to feel the great sorrow of burying a child.”
Madam T nodded. “Consider it done. Go home to your wife and sleep peacefully.”
The elderly man let out his breath and his entire body relaxed visibly. He closed his eyes and bowed his head. He sat quietly for a moment then got stiffly to his feet and bowed low to the beautiful woman sitting across the desk. “From the bottom of my heart, I thank you.”
Madam T nodded once but said nothing.
The elderly man turned and walked to the door. One of the two big bodyguards stood close by the door, he got it open for the elderly and closed again after him.
Madam T stared at the closed door for a moment then looked over at her nephew. “Find out how many sons this big shot politician has. If it is more than three, I want two dead including the one who did the shooting. Give the job to Humphrey and tell him not to turn it into a slaughter.”
Louis quickly made a note on the big iPad he had with him.
“How many people are there left?” asked Madam T.
“Three,” Louis looked up. “The Americans, Don Michel and Alhaji Musa.”
Madam T sighed tiredly. She had been attending to people all day, she could really use some major help. Things were becoming too big for only her to handle all at once. She glanced at her daughter sitting quietly on the sofa, looking so lovely and capable, and one part of her mind reached a decision. The time was right for her.
Madam T shifted her eyes back to Louis. “Bring the Americans in.”
At a nod from Louis, one of the two bodyguards left the room to summon the visitors.
After the two Americans, representatives of the powerful Caldarelli crime family based in New York came and left, Don Michael Bayo was shown in.
Don Michael Bayo was a hard-faced man in his fifties with skin that was as black as coal and a shiny bald head. He controlled a good chunk of the profitable criminal business in the city of Ibadan, the third largest city in Nigeria after Port Harcourt and Lagos. Two of his most powerful rivals were starting to encroach on his territories and so he needed a very powerful ally to keep him safe and help do some serious encroachment of his own.
Madam T was very pleased with his gift of an expensive new diamond necklace and so listened to his proposal. They quickly reached a deal and Don Michael Bayo left with a happy heart.
Next to be seen was Alhaji Musa Adole, CEIO of Storton Investment Nig. Ltd, one of the firms that laundered the endless flow of cash that came from Madam T’s business. He had a large gift-wrapped box in his hands and a pathetic story of how he’d been covering up a shortfall from her for three months. He had used ninety million naira of her money in an investment of his own, which had failed. His quick promise of a complete refund plus interest if given the chance and time didn’t seem to have the desired pacifying effect on his powerful employer.
Madam T’s lovely eyes bored into the pot-bellied middle-aged man in a flowing white Agbada standing in front of her desk. He was scared and sweating like a fool. Nonetheless, a fool who saved her a lot of trouble and money.
“You’ve got four months to make a full refund,” she said. “And if you try stealing from me again, ever, I will have you skinned alive and burned. Do you understand?”
“Yes, madam, I understand. Thank you,” Alhaji Musa bowed respectfully, his relief clear. He was truly glad he’d had the good sense to come clean today.
Madam T waved a lovely hand in dismissal and Alhaji Musa left the room quickly.
The door closed behind him and Madam T glanced at her adopted daughter.
“Where is Charles?” she asked.
“Out on the street with Bruce,” replied Helen. “There’s a problem with some INTERPOL agents parked in a vehicle down the road.”
“Those bastards will always watch even if it’s their own funeral. Provided they stay a good distance away from my gates, they can keep watching for all I care. Tell Charles to get back in here at once, I want him by my side when I go out there to greet my guests. You as well.”
Helen was surprised at her sudden inclusion in the all-important welcoming committee but hid it well as she got on her phone.
Madam Augustina Benson’s emergence from the house was met with a standing ovation from the sizable crowd of guests. The music crew struck up a new song in her praise and the guests cheered happily.
Flanked by her two children, her only son, Charles, and her adopted daughter, Helen, Madam Augustina Benson, attired in a lovely floor-length blue dress with glittering jewelry in all the right place, acknowledged the cheerful well-wishes of her guests with graceful waves of her hands, smiling and nodding in the direction of the most important people.
A pretty girl of about ten, a daughter of one of Madam T’s partners, hurried up with a large bouquet of white roses and the big bodyguards spread out around Madam T and her family made no attempt to stop her. Smiling brightly, Madam Augustin Benson accepted the flowers graciously from the girl to more cheers and applause. None of the other guests made the mistake of trying to approach the celebrant directly, they all know how things worked.
Madam Augustina Benson moved around for a few short minutes as she watched the crowd, taking stock. Satisfied that all the right people were paying her homage correctly, she turned and walked majestically away, heading back into the house. Her watchful bodyguards closed up around her and her family.
The feasting and merriment continued till nightfall.
The big black Lincoln jeep parked about a hundred yards down the road from the Benson mansion stayed there until near midnight. The three INTERPOL agents inside the air-conditioned interior of the jeep never came out but kept taking photos of every vehicle that came and went from the mansion that day.