Veronica strode into her office where 4 policemen were waiting for her. 2 were plain-clothed. They glared at her as she entered.
“Good day, Officers. My name is Dr. Veronica Metu, the medical director. How may I help you?” she asked as she took her seat confidently.
“Good day, doc,” the most senior answered. “You kept us waiting.”
“I apologise about that but you do realise that my job requires that I keep the healthy waiting while saving the sickly?” she smiled.
“We have a complaint against you. You are aware of the death of one Edet Ebiowei?”
“I am… and you are yet to introduce yourself,” she raised a brow.
“Inspector Omotunde is my name. You have to accompany us to the station to answer to the charges against you.”
“What are the charges?”
“Murder?”she exclaimed. “Who lodged the complaint? ”
“The father of the deceased.”
“Interesting! He never showed up while the boy was alive. Now that he is dead, he wants to make trouble. ”
“Is that why you killed the boy? To punish the father?”one of the men asked.
“Very good question. I like that premise. I saw a boy injured by a hit and run driver, brought him to my hospital, operated on him and treated him for 2 weeks free of charge, then, killed him to punish his father. That is what you are saying,” she sneered.
“We are not here to trade words. Just follow us to the station. You can speak all your grammar there,” Omotunde stated.
“I am not going anywhere without my lawyer. Barr. Obi Ihendu is on his way here. You will have to wait for him. If you cannot wait, you can leave and I will come to the station with him when he arrives.”
“What did she say?” one of the men asked.
“Do you have a warrant?” Veronica asked.
“Yes, we do,” Omotunde held it out for her.
She accepted it and read it slowly, willing her racing heart to be calm. Her phone rang. She answered it.
“Doc, how far?” Barr. Obi asked.
“They have a warrant and the charge is murder.”
“Let me speak to the most senior in rank.”
She held out the phone to Omotunde. “Barr. Obi for you.”
“Good day, Officer. Which station are you from?” Barr. Obi asked when he took the phone.
“Could you tell me the name of your D.P.O?”
“That is not my responsibility. Tell your client to follow us quietly else we will have to use force. I am sure she would not like her patients to see her in handcuffs.”
“Handcuffs? There is no need for that. She is not a criminal. That lady is a doctor.”
“So what? Murder is a serious offence and I am sure you know it is not bailable.”
“Let us be reasonable. You and I know she had no reason to kill her own patient. She was not even in the hospital the day it happened.”
“She can defend herself in court. Ask her to co-operate,” Omotunde raised his voice irritably.
“Okay, I will ask her to follow you, if you promise to treat her with respect. No handcuffs, please.”
Omotunde paused for effect before agreeing. He returned the phone to Veronica.
“Doc, go with them. I will head for the station. It is closer to me than the hospital. Do not argue with them and do not write any statement. Just tell them I am coming. Do you hear?”he said.
Veronica nodded, numb. She could not believe she was about to be detained. Omotunde rose and motioned for her to do the same as she ended the call. She ignored him and took her phone to dial Dr. Korede’s number.
“Wetin this girl dey waste our time for*?”one of the men complained.
“Madam, we are not here to play, “Omotunde barked.
“I have to inform my staff where I am going,”she said. “I know you are doing your job. Do not forget that this is a hospital. If I leave the place unmanned, they may bring in your relative in critical condition. Who will treat him then?”
“God forbid that they should bring anybody I know here! Hospital of death!” one of the officers spat.
“Huh?” Veronica could not hide the pain in her voice.
“Just hurry up,” Omotunde retorted.
Veronica pulled herself together and sighed. She made the call. Dr. Korede knocked and entered her office. He was shocked to see the policemen.
“Please take care of everything in my absence. I am going to the station with them. You will need to ensure that Pa Sika is making urine. Also, let Anuli change his catheter before she leaves. I just sutured a cut in the ER. You can monitor the lady. She injured herself while cooking. I will call you later, thanks,” she said.
“I don’t understand. What is the problem, Officers? ” he asked.
“They have a warrant that says I have to answer for the death of Edet,” she replied.
“The little boy? Wow! This is most unexpected.”
“Madam, shall we go now? “Omotunde asked.
She nodded and rose. The men watched her as she took off her coat and hung it, then picked her bag and phone and preceeded them out. They followed her. Korede hung back. He watched from her window as they escorted her to their sedan car and drove away. It was really a shame that she had to be arrested but he did not pity her. He had served Dr. Nigel for 7 years on a modest salary. The least he could have done was to make him the M.D in the event of his death. If this was how he would get his due, so be it.
Barr. Obi was calling everyone he knew, trying to find the phone number of the D.P.O of the staion they were taking Veronica to. When he got it, he dialled the number but it was switched off. He began to call other highly placed officers he knew to ask them to connect him with an insider. Finally, he was connected to an Inspector Okon who promised to ensure that Veronica would be treated with dignity. Barr. Obi’s greatest concern was that no over-zealous officer should try to manhandle her. He could not stand the thought.
Veronica arrived their station, having prayed quietly all the way. She had sent a text to Toyin to covet her prayers. Also, she sent messages to her parents and her boyfriend, Buchi. She tried to look braver than she felt as she alighted. This was going down in her diary as the worst day of her life. The men led her to the counter and gave her a seat behind it. Omotunde presented her with a sheet and a pen and asked her to write her statement. Wisely, she accepted it but only wrote her name and number on it. The men could not force her to write anything. They could only stand by making lewd jokes to which she shut her ears.
After a while, she heard them arguing in the adjoining room. She had been left alone with a female officer who barely spoke a word to her. It appeared there was a more senior officer reprimanding them for their actions. She began to pray that he would prevail.
“Madam, you don write the statement*? ” the female officer asked her.
She ignored her as she was busy declaring that angels were giving the officer on her side the upper hand. The raised voices in the other room suddenly hushed. She guessed she was about to hear her fate. 3 policemen entered. One face was new to her.
“Dr. Metu? ” he asked, extending a hand to her.
She shook his hand. “Good afternoon, sir,” she replied.
“I am Inspector Okon. Please pardon my men for their actions. I hope you were not embarrassed, ” he smiled.
“All in a day’s job, Inspector.”
“We actually have a complaint against you but we are going to release you on self-recognition as the owner of a hospital that is over 17 years old and has served the community well. Your solicitor called me and promised that you would make yourself available whenever we need you. Is it okay with you if we keep your passport and other documents? You cannot leave the country until this matter is sorted.”
“That’s fine by me.”
“Barr. Obi will provide a surety for you. Justice Akpevwe called me to also speak on your behalf. You have very good friends.”
“Well, my job brings me in contact with all sorts of people,” Veronica shrugged.
“Speaking of which, why is the autopsy not yet ready?”
“Red tape O, it is just red tape. There is no reason it is not ready,” she lamented.
“You have to facilitate it. These are your colleagues. Don’t they know what is at stake?”
“We actually thought the family was on the same page with us. This arrest came as a big surprise. I mean, this is a lady I just spoke to over the phone, on Monday. She did not let on that her baby daddy was planning this.”
“What did you call him? Baby daddy? Hahaha!” Inspector Okon laughed.
Inspector Omotunde had been standing by throughout the exchange in stony silence. He did not like the idea of releasing the ‘suspect’ without ‘egunje'( lining his pocket). It was unfortunate that Okon was senior to him and had the backing of a few big names. He had a plan though. By the time he and Sgt. Victor convinced a few superiors of the money to be made from arresting the doctor, she would be back in his custody. First, they would have to ensure that Okon was transferred to another post as soon as possible. He had become a cog in the wheel of their progress.
Inspector Okon moved Veronica to his office where she was given a comfortable seat to await her solicitor. He provided all the documents that they needed to release her and supervised the writing of her statement to ensure that she did not incriminate herself. It was 9pm before they were able to leave the station. Barr. Obi led her to his car and opened the door for her. It was the first time they were alone all day.
“Thank you sir for all you did for me today,” she began.
“I am the one who should thank you for not giving up on St. Lucas. You are keeping my friend’s legacy alive.”
“What are we going to do?”
“I think we should call the mother of the boy and find out what they want.”
“Like a bribe?”
“What more could they want than compensation? There was obviously no criminal negligence. It was the hospital that was footing his medical bill. These people are trying to make money.”
“You think so?”
“My dear, will locking you up bring him back to life? People are not as nice as you are.”
“I don’t just get why anyone would want to kill that boy. He was innocent. This is so confusing.”
“That is why I asked the medical examiner not to release the autopsy result yet. Imagine if they hear that he died of suffocation? Even the officers on our side will turn against us,” Barr. Obi stated.
“May God deliver me,”Veronica sighed.
“Amen,” Barr. Obi responded.
Jeff was visiting Aunt Tammy whose baby was due for immunization that day. Her husband was his uncle who he had lived with in Lagos before he got his own apartment. It was her first baby after waiting for 7 years. That accounted for the attention she was receiving. When she called to say she had to go to the hospital and Uncle Kindness was tied up with work, he volunteered his services as a driver. Secretly, he rejoiced for it was his perfect opportunity to see Veronica again.
At the hospital, he left them in the care of the nurse and headed for Veronica’s office. He had to get her number by any means. A nurse ushered him in after informing Veronica that he wanted to make some enquiries.
“Good morning, sir,”she greeted. “How may I help you.”
He extended a hand and shook hers. “Good morning, doc. You look wonderful today.”
She frowned at his smiling face. “This guy is a serious hustler,” she thought. “Can’t he get a job already? What is wonderful about the white coat I am wearing? Hian! ”
Aloud she said thank you and pretended to be entering information into her desktop computer. He waited till she looked up.
“Is there something specific I can do for you?”
“Well…I came with my aunt for her baby’s routine vaccination. She needed a driver and I volunteered,” he smiled nervously.
“O, that was so kind of you. I think that may be a good way to fill in your days. She could even employ you full time.”
Jeff threw back his head and laughed, thinking she was kidding. “I’m sure she has far better hopes for my future…”
“Is there anything wrong in honest labour? “she asked,irritated..
“O, no, of course not,” he was confused.
“Thanks for checking on me. I have to get some work done,” she rose.
“Ummm…Is it okay if I get your number? I mean, it’s nice to be able to call your doctor, don’t you think?”he inclined his head charmingly.
“Nice try,” she thought.
Aloud she said,”You are not my patient, sir. I only give my official number to my patients.”
“I actually want your private number,”he persisted.
“You don’t get it, do you?” she asked.
They were interrupted by the ringing of her phone. She answered it. It was Buchi.
“Hey, honey. No, I don’t have any patients. We can talk. I have missed you,” she sat back as she spoke.
Jeff took that as his cue to leave.
To be continued.
Please feel free to predict the outcome of this mystery. Click on the title to comment. Cheers, Dr. N