EGGSHELL 8

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BK Infometrics Inc. HQ

Lagos, Nigeria.

January 8, 1997.

4.08 P.M

 

They were seated on the sofa. It was still raining outside – it had been like that for most of the day. He was not sure how to react to what he just heard. He knew something else had happened after they spoke in the morning, because she had called back and asked him to come to her office later in the day rather than the agreed mid-day. Still, hearing the reason for the shift in timing made his skin crawl. It was the most shocking thing he’d ever heard – well apart from that time in the Seychelles…and maybe the other one in the U.K. But, this story he just heard was hideous and smacked of gross criminality.

 

“Why did you keep quiet for so long?” He didn’t mean to make it sound accusatory, but that was exactly how it came out.

 

“Don’t judge me, Wemi.” She got up from the sofa and walked to the far end of the room. She was always like this when she was tensed. This side of her, the quick-to-anger side is rarely seen by her staff and associates. It was only when she was with him that she let her guards down this much and removed the veneer of control she had willed upon herself.

 

“Okay, Okay. I didn’t mean to stress you more than you already are. I just wanted to understand why you didn’t mention this to anyone before. It’s alright baby.” He got up and went to her, wrapping his arms around her waist and rocking her sideways slowly while they looked out at the rain together.

 

“It’s alright. We will figure this thing out together.”

 

They swayed side-to-side like that for some time before he led her back to the sofa, “Look, I’ll do all I can to help you look at the firewalls again. Maybe I can find backdoors and if lucky track down this hacker. If it is a hacker that is…” his mind drifted as he wondered why this had happened and what the implications of the story Biodun told him had on the situation. He still couldn’t believe it. The stakes are undeniably high and the risk much more than he could even dare to imagine.

 

“Ok. Thanks. I knew I could rely on your help here and I needed a fresh eye on this.”

 

“You can count on it, babe.”

 

He looked at her, regaling her with that impish smile he reserved only for her when he needed to get her mind off the worries of running a gargantuan business like BK Infometrics. He was pleased to see that it worked its magic – like it always did. The smile broke out across her face and she ducked her head shyly, burying it in her laps.

 

“Don’t do that, Wemi!”

 

“What?”

 

“Stop looking at me like that for Christ’s sakes,” she got up from the sofa and retrieved her purse from the table, “you look at me like a little boy ogling a fancy toy at the window shop. A toy he would do anything to have.”

 

“But, that is eggsackly how I feel babe.” He reached to grab her arm as she walked towards him, she stopped short and whacked him playfully on the head with the purse strap, “common let’s go naughty boy.”

 

“Where are we going?”

 

She rolled her eyes at him and they left the office holding hands and forgetting their problems for the time being.

 

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If he didn’t know better, he would have missed it. The login was at around 9.24 a.m. the previous day and whoever it was had downloaded a specific file and then initiated the erasure of all the files in the database. However, he was sure there were ways to get those files back. Jude was working hard on that angle, and along with his team they are sure to recover most of the stuff in there. What however piqued his curiosity was the source of the file that had been downloaded and what significance it could have for Biodun. Furthermore, after hearing her story yesterday and the plans of the Minister for Agricultural Development, he was now sure that he had found the likely source of all of Biodun’s problems. If the ministry’s files were the ones stolen, and if there was something fishy already going on in that ministry, it was only a simple matter of putting two and two together to make four.

 

He swiveled around on his chair, the cup of black tea cold and untouched on his office table and wondered how devilish the Minister was. The plan, ingenious and simple as it was, was nothing short of genocide. And it was one that still made him cringe in horror. It was true the country’s different tribal groups had one grouse or the other against each other; it was also true that the socio-political fabric that held the entire country’s diverse ethno-religious groups together was badly sewn from the beginning – a mismatch of different colors and fabric quality that could only guarantee that whatever outfit came out of the designer’s expertise was going to be nothing but a laughing-stock for other parties who were well-adorned and attired in the international political scene; it was also true that since the shift of political power from the north to the south there had been a lot of marginalization of Peoples from the northern region by successive governments that had sprung from the south. However, whatever the inconsistencies and shortcomings in the nations’ socio-political set-up, it was still not enough reason for a grand scheme as that of Alhaji Shelama’s to commit such a heinous crime.

 

What he had in store for the people was worse than what any other terror group ever conceived. It could be compared to that of Auschwitz by Nazi Germany. It was simple and brilliant in its planning and proposed execution, and that was what was scary – and coming from someone who had been very instrumental in calling off the attacks by the Islāmic terror groups, it was sheer sadistic mastery.

 

Wemimo took a notepad from his drawer and wrote down the time of the login. He then did a back check to locate the source of the entry terminal. He was sure all of this had already been discovered by Jude and his team, but they sure didn’t know of the missing files yet. Or even if it was detected, it could easily have been explained as part of the files that was lost to the lightning strike and subsequent erasure of the mainframe files.

 

Wemimo thought about calling Jude with his news, then decided against that line of action. The smaller the number of people who suspected there was foul play – or the extent of it, the better. He also needed to explore this lead a bit further and see where it led, before he starts to ring hard on the alarm bells.

 

He retrieved his jacket, took his car keys from the keyhole behind him then shut down his laptop which he put in his bag. On his way out, he instructed his secretary to postpone all his appointments for the day and forward important calls to his mobile phones.

 

He needed to talk to a friend of his and it was a talk that could only be had face to face.

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Kano, Nigeria

January 11, 1997.

 

The four men looked up at him like children waiting to have their results read to them after a particularly tough examination. The feeling of anticipation was palpable and he milked it for all it was worth. He knew what they wanted to hear and he had what they wanted. Obtaining the information had taken time, but the waiting was necessary. It was necessary for the data to be mature enough for harvesting, and also the timing had to be right for the harvesting to take place.

 

He had been lucky on the timing part.

 

These men had come a long way with him and they were only waiting for the “go” to kick-start the whole thing. Alhaji Abu Shelama stood close to the window and looked back at the four pairs of eyes that were keenly trained on his. His demeanor gave nothing away, but he knew what he knew within him – they were all going to take an irrevocable step from today onwards.

 

If these men were exercising any doubts, he felt sorry for them. None of them is free from surveillance and none is safe from his reach. If something was to go wrong, it won’t be after today. He took care of that – any faltering from any quarter will be met by a violent and decisive end.

 

It was as simple as that.

 

“Mài gídáa, Kowane mutum na da hakkin ya kafa kungiyoyin kiyaye sharudan sana ‘arsa tare da makamantansan, ko ya shiga wata kungiya mai irin wannan manufa domin ya tanadi abin da zai amfane shi. So, don’t be afraid my brothers. We are very close and now we can free our people from the oppression of the western usurpers, and their lackeys in government.”

 

He moved away from the glass window, conscious of the eyes that followed him as he made his way to the seat at the head of the table. He was a man who can carry his words well, using it to make his listeners do his bidding – sometimes, without them knowing why or when. It was one of the gifts he had perfected while he was in training in Buraj Aziz Khan, the power of group psychosis and hypnosis.

 

“The pilot has been bedded and now we can move ahead and initiate the next steps with  mai haɗawa, our other contact.”

 

There was a general rustle of sharply starched clothing as the mood around the table changed. This was the business end of the whole set up. He could sense the energy coursing through the room. They were all primed and had waited for this day for three years. Three long years of proper planning, patient lobbying and strategizing and tactically placement of his assets in positions and departments where they could do the most damage without anyone being too suspicious of his or his cohort’s activities.

 

“Mai Gida Shehu, we need to also start to think about legal and security contingencies for ourselves and our families.” It was Mallam Aliko Balau who had spoken. A tall, rangy fair-skinned man who was one of those with the good fortune to own the largest farm in the West African sub-region. He was a dedicated man to the cause and fearless in carrying out his duties up to this point. He was a man who had been with him for a long time, almost from the beginning and who was almost as shrewd as he was.

 

“Yadda al ‘umma ke so ne mahakunta za su tafiyar da mulkin kasa,” he paused to look round the other faces at the table, “The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government.” He opened the bulky folder before him, took out the white paper envelopes inside and proceeded to circulate one to each member of the group.

 

“Those my brothers are your orders and the steps in which you are to proceed. Everything has been planned in detail and there would be no room or tolerance for deviation. At the moment I am in possession of all the data and records we need to successfully launch this campaign. We have also successfully obtained the biometric sensors and data from the National Population Commission. Everything is set and right now BK Infometrics Inc. has also been rendered mai karancin aiki, inactive”

 

“Mài hánkàlíi, Mai Gida I must admit you have done well and all our operatives also have been resourceful, ingantaccen aiki.”

 

“Don’t worry my brothers. We are going to take back what was taken from us. And we are going to teach all the bastards a bitter lesson. One they will never forget, history awaits my brothers.”

 

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BK Infometrics Inc. HQ

Lagos, Nigeria.

January 15, 1997.

10.15 a.m.

 

“What we are looking at here is cyber theft of your files. The occurrence of the lightning strike was just a natural cover to mask the real crime that was committed. If you ask me, two things probably happened here,” Wemimo moved the laser beam to the screen, “One, somebody had been remotely accessing your systems for a while waiting for such an opportune moment presented by the lightning strike; two, you have a mole in your system.”

 

He noticed her eyes spark with determined anger at the word mole. He understood her reaction, if he was in her shoes it would be his exact reaction. Having someone in-house who might be sabotaging all the good works they were doing or worse, selling bits of the data they had worked hard on to competition or client competitors.

 

“I think what we need to do is probably do a proper systems forensics, to find where the access login came from, if we are able to detect that this was a remote login. Or we lay a very elaborate trap for the mole. My fear is that this may not work, as I am sure by now whoever is the mole would have known there is a hunt going on to find those files. Whoever it is would be extra careful to show his or her hands from now on.”

 

She puffed her cheeks and slowly let out her breath. He waited for her to digest what he had said, “if it helps I can bring in a friend to help you with the systems forensics. He can help you build an audit trail of the activities leading to January 8 and afterwards even. He is quite good and more importantly, he is a neutral and outsider.”

 

Biodun looked to him like a caged rabbit just ready to do anything to escape. Without batting her eyelids, she responded “Do it. And do it today, Wemi.”

 

“His name is Babajide Sanisu. I have implicit confidence in him and if anyone would find you this guy. This is the man who would.”

 

“Wemimo, just do it. I am too scared to even think. If the Alhaji is moving his plan up a notch I need to start thinking of how to find evidence against him and inform the president,” she held her head in her hands. He could see the strain was getting to her, but there was little else he could do. This was her turf and this is where she had to be as strong as she had ever been.

 

“Look, I think you need to be careful….”

 

“Hell! Like I don’t know!” she got up from her seat and walked to the window, “the guy is a beast. He has always been brilliant, but he has got this streak in him…and I am scared as hell because he is a smart motherfucker.”

 

“Easy, easy….” Wemimo got up from his chair too and went to hold her hand.  “If there is anything that would give me so much joy, it is to see that bastard rot in jail.”

 

They stood there together watching the sun go down together.

=========================TO BE CONTINUED======================

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