Peter Abel Kidnapped!

Peter Abel Kidnapped!

The hours went by very quickly for Abel. The following day was filled with calls to government officials for statements and another session with Camp himself. He was still incommunicative, off in his own world, but he looked more rested and less distraught.

Abel also spoke with Comfort again. She reported learning nothing new. And of course, the police commissioner continued to stonewall his attempts to see the accident and coroner’s reports.


Billings returned and said word on the street indicated there were more assassins on the prowl, some of them hired to kill in neighbouring countries. Billings couldn’t get names, but if the men had, in fact, worked in Liberia and Cote d’ Ivoire, they were dangerous and evil.

At 6 P.M. that evening, Abel was ready in a grey suit and an orange shirt. He believed orange was his lucky colour.  In the absence of Huud and key aides, the Government House was quiet when Abel arrived an hour later.  It took him five minutes to pass through three security gates into the lavish compound where he was received by a muscular young man he’d seen with Rika in Limi.


“We’ve met before,” Abel ventured. The man looked blank, so he added quickly, “At Limi, when Madame gave her party.”

“Oh, you were there? My name is Mutum Bronson.”

Suddenly, Rika’s voice echoed from far down the hall. “Bronze, don’t make Mr. Abel wait.”


Abel looked down the hallway and saw Rika standing by an open doorway. She looked dolled up.  Abel glanced at Bronze.


The man winced. “She calls me that.”

“I’ll bet.” Abel patted his bulging bicep and moved off toward Rika. He was sure Bronze was glaring a hole in his back, and he didn’t care. These people made him sick.


Rika greeted Abel with a kiss on each cheek. He could smell her strong come-hither perfume, nothing subtle about this woman.

“Welcome, Peter.”

“Thank you, Madame First Lady.”

“Please you must call me Rika.” But Abel knew she didn’t mean it.


She led Abel into a plush, all-white living room. They walked through it, and Rika pressed the white doorbell on the bullet-proof glass door that was caressed by thick pink curtains. Abel heard a soft click, and the door opened.

“I’ve broken security coming here to let you in myself, but really, I’m sure I’m quite safe. Nobody bothers with a First Lady.”

Another plush living room welcomed Abel. The six large couches were all as pink as the thick, ceiling-to-floor curtains. Rika moved to the far end of the room and sat down, crossing her legs on a glass coffee table. She gestured for Abel to sit. A servant entered.

“What will you have to drink, Peter?”


“Since I am on duty, a soda water will do.”

Rika nodded to the woman who disappeared into another room.  “I’m glad you agreed to see me. There is so much to talk about. There are so many misconceptions about my husband and me. And frankly about the entire party.”

“I’m grateful for the interview. Before we talk about other things, I’d really like to profile you. As I said before, women like you are the invisible factors in the success of men. How have you coped with the challenges of your position?”

“Simple, very simple.” She stopped speaking when the woman returned and served Abel his soda and Rika a drink that looked like a rum punch. “That will be all. We don’t want to be disturbed.”

The woman bowed and exited, closing the door behind her.

Rika took a sip of her drink then suddenly sat up. “You know my husband is a very humble man. All I do is try make him happy at home. You see, when a man is happy at home, he has the confidence to tackle the challenges at work.”

“I’m sure that’s true but you have taken on the official role of First Lady. So I assume you have much to say about how things go around here. You’re being far too modest.”

For a minute or so, Rika sat quietly, thinking, her head lowered, then she met his eyes. “I believe you have this backwards. My job is to support my husband’s work. That reception I gave in Limi the other night, for instance. It was in service of my husband’s policies.”

“But, some of us have seen how close you are to Timo Tiko. How much time you spend with him?”

Rika looked at him sharply, and Abel raised his hand to clarify. “On policy issues. Your work is, of course, official business.”  Rika seemed to relax and Abel continued. “So, my readers want to know how you keep your marriage together when you are so intimately involved in the process. Does it interfere with your relationship? Do you two become competitive?”

Rika watched Abel. He knew she was looking for some trap in this question. He was, in fact, trying to goad her a little, get her to expose something hidden.

“Are you writing a gossip column now, Peter?”

Abel laughed. “Not at all. But how people wield power is always fascinating. And you are rumoured to be the power behind it all. Why else would I be here?”

Rika apparently liked this, and as Abel had hoped, she rose to the occasion. “It is true. Let your readers know that I fought for him to be governor,” she said boastfully, puffing her chest.

Now that Abel had her full attention, he wanted to push her off balance. “Some people have complained about your position and the money you have spent already when the state is so poor.”

Rika darkened. “Who complains? Nobody complained the other night when I gave that party, free food and drink and wonderful music. There will always be jealous individuals. They don’t bother me.”

But Abel could tell they did.

“Anyway, I earn what I am paid to be First Lady.”

“And how is that?” Able figured it was only a matter of time before Rika would brag about herself.

“Well, Peter, I do advise to some extent, and my husband does depend on me. My public face is one of cooperation, carrying out his policies, but in truth, you are right, I do have some influence. But I don’t want to overstate that.”

Abel thought she wanted to say more, that she was bursting to talk about her role. Sometimes it’s more important to remain quiet than to fill the silence in an interview. So Abel waited and soon, Rika began again.

“Take for instance this tragic accident, the deaths of Doctor Camp’s wife and children. Gorem was concerned it might look as if he were using the event for political gain if he visited the doctor, but I urged him to do so. My husband admires the man. Camp needs people around him while he tries to get through this, and I told Gorem to go to Camp. Be his friend.”

Abel nodded, feigning to be impressed. “Very wise counsel, I think. How else do you advise him? What of the whole issue of the missing money? The day before the accident, your husband released documents implicating Camp. Then he defends the man in public.”

Rika shook her head. “I saw your article accusing my husband of being inconsistent, saying the fact that he brought the charges then magically made them disappear made it seem as if he invented them in the first place. He would have fought back, you know, said something in public to answer your speculation, but I told him to hold his tongue.”

“And why would you do that?”

“Because, my dear, Peter. I felt you and I needed to discuss this first. Once we had, you would understand and see that Gorem isn’t guilty of treachery.”

“Really? What can you tell me to make me change my mind, Madame First Lady?”

Rika came and sat near him on the couch, looking at him in a comely manner. “Peter, listen to me. We are in power here. Nothing you write can bring us down, because of the simple fact that we have done nothing.”

“Then why did your husband and Timo Tiko bring in mercenaries?”

“That wasn’t us. Maybe the opposition party…”

“These men tried to kill me, and they did kill Theodora Camp and her children.”

“I promise you we know nothing about this. Peter, the missing money, the money for the wells, we have been looking for that ever since we took office. Can we speak off the record?”

Abel wondered what this woman was about to offer him. He’d been at this long enough to know that there was something coming. “Of course.”

“We have discovered who took the money, where it went and how it was spent. We are building a case. We got very close, and that’s why these parties tried to deflect blame onto Doctor Camp. My husband played along because he didn’t want the thieves to know how close we are. Do you understand now?”

Abel was truly speechless at the audacity of the lies, but he merely nodded. “Of course. But I don’t understand. Were these thieves, these people your husband and Tiko are trying to expose, were they behind the attempt on my life?”

“Yes. We believe so. We wanted to feed you this story eventually. You are the most respected investigator in Nigeria. They wanted to prevent us giving you this information.”

Abel didn’t believe a syllable, but he gave Rika high marks for invention. “And what of Theodora’s death?”

“That I still believe was merely an accident. But if in fact these people were behind it, they wanted to create a huge story that would dwarf theirs.”

Abel wondered what his future could possibly hold now? If Rika tried stringing him along like this, delaying his investigation with promises of exclusives while they covered their tracks, eventually he would know he’d been played. Did they still intend to kill him? How else could they keep him eventually from writing about this ruse?

Abel finally spoke. “Why me, Rika?” He used the familiar intentionally. “I’ve been writing negative things about your husband’s regime since the beginning?”

“You answered your own question, Peter. If you write the story, people will believe it. And there’s another reason.”

“What might that be?”

When Rika leaned closer to him and put a hand on his cheek, Peter stood up abruptly. “Mrs. Huud. This isn’t right. I do not get my stories from vulnerable women.”

Rika jumped off the couch, toe-to-toe with Abel, fury in her eyes. “Vulnerable? I am a wilting flower. You can have me, the most powerful woman in the state. You are fool.”

Abel, more repulsed than he had ever been, and more disturbed, turned and walked from the room.


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He made his way outside the compound and got into his car where Billings was waiting. “How it go, boss?”

Abel shook his head. “You don’t want to know.”

“She didn’t give you a story?”

“She tried to seduce me.”

“She like you? She trying to control what you write? What reason?”

“I don’t know. I think it’s possible she’s simply insane.”

“Well, worse things, I guess.”

“You don’t understand, Billings. This woman controls the governor and the party chair.  Her staff calls her the ‘Inside Woman.’ She might run the whole damned state. And she’s certifiably insane.”

As Abel drove off, he was deeply disturbed. An entire state was apparently in the hands of a madwoman. She was worse than Lady Macbeth whose motives had at least been logical and therefore predictable. She wanted power. And with Rika Huud, who knew what she would do to get it?


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Rika had put her blouse back on and sat on the couch alone. She sobbed into a napkin. Not only did she feel humiliated by Abel’s rejection, but he had called her a “vulnerable woman.”  Rika didn’t think of herself in that way.  Ever. But suddenly, standing there naked in the middle of the room, her intended lover having fled, she felt ridiculous.

It was the first time in her life she ever registered that emotion, and it made her furious. She couldn’t believe the audacity, not to mention the stupidity of the man.  She offered him not only herself but access to stories inside the government.

Bronze knocked and entered. “I heard you crying. Can I help?”

Rika stood up, turning on Bronze in all her fury. “Help? Can you help? No you stupid worm! You can’t help! How dare you ask, as if I’m one of your simpering girls who drip at the sight of you. Get out! Get out!”

Rika picked up a large crystal vase and heaved it in the direction of the now-fleeing Bronze. He barely made it out the door before the vase shattered against the wall.

Rika picked up the phone and dialled. As she waited, she calmed herself, dried her tears and adopted a cold tone of voice. Tiko came on the line. “Yes, my dear?”

“I tried to deal with Peter Abel. He’s determined to ruin us. He’s here in Bammak City. We need to deal with him.”

“We discussed this, Rika. We can’t just kill him. People will become suspicious.”

“Not kill, disappear. He just vanishes. Nobody knows where he is. Perhaps he’s off investigating a story. Perhaps he’s underground. But he needs to go, Tiko. Tonight. And if you won’t do it, I know how to contact those men. I’ll tell them.”

“No, no. I’ll do it.” The panic in Tiko’s voice was evident. The last thing he wanted was Rika joining forces with Jonas and his crew.

“Tonight. It must be tonight!”

“Yes, I promise. I’ll get it done. There’s a camp up north where we have some people we’re holding. Political problems. He can be placed there.”

“As long as he doesn’t come back.”

“People don’t come back from there, Rika.”

Rika hung up. She imagined what Abel would be put through later that night and smiled into the mirror.


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Abel and Billings rode toward the hotel where they would spend one last night before heading back to Lagos. Abel wanted to write the story of his encounter with Rika from a safe distance.  As soon as Billings turned off the main highway, Abel saw a truck broken down on the road. Billings came to a halt to allow an oncoming car to pass.

“I don’t like this, boss,” Billings said.

He had no sooner finished the sentence than the window beside him shattered and his head exploded as a soft-nosed bullet entered and exited. The remnants of the bullet continued past Abel’s head and shattered his passenger-side window. Two tall men in hoods suddenly appeared on his side of the car and ripped open the door.

Abel was stunned by Billings’ brutal murder. It didn’t seem possible. He thought of the young man as indestructible. One assailant spoke harshly. “Put your hands on your head.”

Abel tried to shout, but no sound came. Suddenly, the assailant who had spoken reached in and pulled Abel from the car, throwing him on dirt road illuminated by the car’s headlights.

Abel struggled as the two men fought to hold him down. They scuffled, and Abel saw a footprint left in the dirt by one of the assailants. It had the distinctive cut in the heel. Just as it registered with Abel that this was the same man who had tried to kill him before and succeeded in killing Camp’s family, he was hit in the head with the butt of a gun.

Abel gradually regained his senses as he was being placed face down on the floor of the back seat of the car. He heard doors close, and the car sped off.  He couldn’t move. His hands were bound behind him, his feet tied together, and a hood had been placed over his head.

Moments after the car began to move, it turned right onto a rough road, which Abel assumed to be deserted since as there were no traffic sounds. The car bumped along, and Abel tried to stay conscious, but his head ached and the passengers were smoking, filling the car with noxious fumes. Abel finally fell into a kind of half-conscious state as the car moved steadily on. The last thing in Abel thoughts before drifting off was the fact that he would never hear Billings laugh, or see his smile, or answer any of his naïve questions again. Somehow, this disturbed Abel more than his own kidnapping.


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