30th May 2019. Kirikiri Execution Room.
“Any last words?”
I stared at the executioner and my mind started a journey down memory lane. My life of crime started in 2015. After graduating from the University in 2010 and serving in Kogi State the following year, I returned to Lagos with dreams of a bright future. Dreams that became nightmares in no time.
After searching for a job for two years, I got one. For eight months, I worked as an office assistant in a school in Magodo. The take-home pay could not take me home. It was frustrating for me working in that environment, but I persevered, clinging on to the hope that one day things would get better. Things got worse. The school had problems paying staff and eventually had to lay off some people, including me.
Motivational speakers encouraged us to aspire, respire, inspire and refire. To pursue our dreams and be our own boss. I obeyed the clarion call and started a business with funds raised from family and friends. The business died within 18 months; electricity costs, multiple taxes, low patronage and bad debts among other things were the causes of the death.
It was in this mess that I met Diran at Obalende. He was driving a Lexus GX 470. Diran was my classmate in Primary School. Seeing him in that kind of vehicle with that kind of money broke me. This was a guy that I was much better than in school, pulling stunts that I could never dream of. I got his number and paid him a visit at his house in Ikeja.
Diran sympathized with my condition and promised to help me. He said he didn’t want to give me fish alone, he wanted me to learn how to fish. Kidnapping, car snatching, election violence, murder, just name it. We did it. We made crazy money but we were never caught because we were adequately fortified. Life was fun.
Through the lows of searching for jobs and the highs of making crazy money, there was one constant in my life. Adenike. The most beautiful lady in the world. Beautiful inside and outside.
During the times when I was unemployed, she would send me messages encouraging me to trust in God and hope for the best. When I was underemployed, she helped me by paying some bills and providing me with some Grade A shirts that I could wear to work. My period of self-employment was not an exception; she registered me for conferences and advertised my products. Adenike was never found wanting as a friend. Never.
“Adenike, marry me. Fe mi. I know you love me, I love you too. Be my wife nau.”
“Fola, you know I love you but I can’t marry you even though I want to. You can’t really take care of yourself, my dear. Adding me to the equation is financial suicide.”
“Omo, this life sha. So you will marry that Tunde guy abi?”
“Fola mi, don’t make this more difficult for me that it already is. Try and understand.”
I understood. I watched her marry Tunde, a guy who didn’t love her.
That was July 2015, just before I met Diran and my life changed.
My mind drifted to the reason why I was being executed. It started with a phone call on the 10th of January 2019.
Nike called me and told me she missed me. She asked if I was at home and when I answered affirmatively, she told me she was on her way. Minutes after, she drove in. As we were laughing and gisting, I heard a vehicle’s horn at my gate. It was Tunde. Nike’s husband.
He was screaming and shouting, accusing Nike and I of having an affair. He called Nike a prostitute and ordered her to get into the car instantly. I lost my cool and slapped him. It was just one slap. Just one o. But in a split second, Tunde slumped and began to convulse. On our way to the hospital, he died.
So, I, Fola, who escaped the police during my raids and robberies, was sentenced to death for manslaughter.
The executioner repeated his question and jolted me to life.
“Mr. Fola, I said do you have any last words?”
I shook my head, closed my eyes and prepared to meet my maker. I heard the sound of a switch and suddenly everything went black. Then I heard a song.
“Cause my papa no be Dangote or Adeleke but we go dey ok…”
My phone was ringing. It was Adenike. I checked the date. 10/01/2019.
“Hello Fola, I miss you. Are you at home, I want to come and see you.”
“Home ke. No o. I am not at home. Ore mi, I am leaving home now o. I’m going to church for prayer. Please don’t come and see me. Ehen. I don’t want to die. Thank you very much. I reject every arrow of the enemy. Akoba, adaba, Olorun ma je ka ri. Thank you.” I cut the call before she could respond.
“Mercy prevails over judgment” James 2:13
“I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.” Romans 9:15