By Musa Bah
In the remote village of Ñaanga Bantang, Sergeant Dawda Faal was preparing to return to his posting in Bakadaji. He put on his well-ironed police uniform and walked out of the small hut in which he had spent the night. Coming out, he saw a toddler sitting near the compound gate, dirty and muddy. The sergeant went close to the toddler and performed a mock salute to the boy. The boy got up and proudly returned the salute, and held.
“At ease, Recruit,” he said and picked the boy up. He kissed him on the cheek and turned to leave. With the corner of his eye, he saw something shining in the reflection of the early morning sun. He knew; in his guts, he knew that that could only be a gun, AK47 to be precise. He walked purposefully towards the distant hut from which he had seen the metal shining.
As he approached the hut, he saw a man walking away swiftly. He must have used the back door. The sergeant hastened his pace. The faster he walked, the faster his heartbeat increased in speed. Meanwhile, the man had started running.
“Halt!” the sergeant ordered. But the man kept running. With his training still fresh in his limbs, he sprinted and within a few kilometres brought the man to the ground.
“You’re under arrest for gun smuggling,” he said, breathing heavily.
“What have I done? I’m just going hunting,” the man said with confidence.
“OK, you’ll explain that to the Officer Commanding (OC) at the station.”
“Come on! Can’t we sought this out here? We don’t need to waste all that time.”
“Now, stop talking and start walking,” the sergeant said in a tone that did not invite further comment. They walked for one hour and reached the Station.
He booked the man and handed the case over to the Officer Commanding. OC Amadou Sowe was a huge man, bulky, rough, hair always unkempt with a frightening demeanour. He was known as The Hawk to all other police officers. He had been in the force for twenty-five years.
“OK, Amadou you say your name is? I hope you know how big a problem you’re in?” he said.
‘The culprit remained quiet, eyes riveted on one spot. He was calculating the risks involved. The station was distant enough and the bushes around here were thick enough to hide him were he to attempt an escape and reach the forest. But right now, he is in the OC’s office which was secluded and the only way out was through the front desk which was full of armed officers. If he were to make it, he would have to wait till he was being transferred. So, he kept his plans close to his chest.
“Listen up, everyone,” the OC yelled as he came out of his office.
All the officers gathered around and waited for instructions.
“Our suspect,” he said, scratching his ear, “the man with the AK47 is refusing to cooperate. I am going to personally take him to Basse Police Station where he will be made to talk. I suspect that there are other guns in this vicinity and we will have to get all of them.”
The preparation went on for a little under an hour. The suspect was brought out and they boarded the OC’s pickup truck. He started the engine and drove off. In the direction of Basse.
“Can you catch that?” the little girl shouted as she threw the pink ball towards him.
He flung his hand and caught the little ball just as it was about to hit the ground. He triumphantly raised his hand, opened his palm; and, there was the ball! ‘I got it!’ He yelled.
“Grandpa, you are quick,” the little girl giggled.
He had never been happier in his life. He was successful, had all the money he could ever wish for, had a good wife; and now, the most beautiful and lovely granddaughter. Aisha was just the sweetest and the damn best thing that had ever happened to him. He loved her to a fault.
Inspector General of Police Amadou Sowe rose from his chair and stretched his legs. He had had a wonderful morning with little Aisha and it was time for him to lazily be driven to his office in Banjul. He was supposed to meet the minister of Finance and Economic Affairs on that day to discuss some budget supplement for the police. Incidentally, the minister was his son’s father-in-law. So, there was hope.
IGP Sowe’s son had met a gorgeous girl at the university whom he instantly fell in love with. They dated for a while, and seeing the connection to power, and anticipating this very moment (or moments like it), Sowe had given his blessing for his sin to marry the daughter of Wuyeh Kujabi, the then permanent secretary, Ministry of Finance. The marriage ceremony was a blast, attended by a list of who is who in the Gambia. In short, anyone who was any one was there on that day.
Fast forward seven years later, he had the beautiful granddaughter he was playing with this morning. He smiled, while in the reception of the minister’s office. That girl is my life. I will give her the best of everything; school, health, opportunity and all what she needs, and wants.
“The minister is ready for you now,” the secretary said to him.
“Huh ugh… “he mumbled, he had dozed off.
”The minister will see you now,” the beautiful, smiling secretary repeated.
“Oh, OK thanks,” he said rising from the soft sofa which was the cause of his embarrassment.
He walked in and the minister rose to greet him. He extended a hand for a warm handshake. The minister was a very nice man who loathed formality. He was as jovial as ever. The pleasantries aside, he pulled out a file and they started going through figures. The budget for fuel had been exhausted due to a spate of armed robberies in the Kombos. As the robbers had not all been caught yet, the need was still acute. The minister was sympathetic. He understood and promised to solve that problem, they should move on.
As they were on the next item, both their mobile phones buzzed at the same time, as if they were synchronized. They looked at each other and kept going. The phones kept on and then the minister stopped talking and said, ‘Let’s see what they want.’
They received their calls at the same time. They both spoke briefly and faces turned ashen.
‘Oh my God!’ the minster could at least talk, though it was a wail. The IGP, not so much. He couldn’t even stand up, let alone walk. They were there like statutes for a long time, or so it seemed.
The call had informed them that Aisha Sowe had been hit by a stray bullet from an on-going shootout between armed robbers and the police at the Serekunda Market. She had died instantly as the bullet hit her on the head. She was now at the Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital. A bystander by the name Alieu Marong had also been killed. He was the brother of the Speaker of the National Assembly. This is going to be a case the police had to solve quickly.
The police investigators were following all leads and the investigation was progressing quickly. They had several suspects but hadn’t made an arrest so far. The lead investigator, Detective Inspector Musa Jallow was in the IGP’s office. He produced a sheet of typed paper and placed it before his boss. It was the ballistics report.
The IGP perused it and quickly, something caught his eye. He looked at the name of the gun from which the bullet had been fired, it was an AK47; and the serial number of the recovered gun terrified him.
He hurriedly got up and rushed to the armoury, leaving DI Jallow agape in his office. The IGP went straight and opened a particular locker. He emptied its contents on the desk and looked at a sheet of paper he had kept there. It was his hand writing. When he looked, he found it. The number of the gun was the same as the one that he had let go from a suspect years ago on the way to Basse for a paltry bribe of five hundred dalasis.
“I killed her,” was the last thing they heard him say before he fell into unconsciousness.