(Continued from Madam General II)
Anna’s heart sinks when she learns about the death of the judge. She had been hoping that he would survive and get home safely. In her own way, she loved the judge. He was a nice man, even though he was cheating on his wife with her. In fact, one of the reasons she loved him even the more was the fact that he refused to badmouth his wife.
She did not want to kill the judge. She is not a killer. Besides, the judge had been good to her. He was paying for her apartment. He had bought her a car. And he gave her an allowance that allowed her to live comfortably. For the last three months she has not touched her salary.
Ironically, this morning she was supposed to face a three judge appellate bench that included him. The other judges have since cancelled all the hearings for the week, and she is grateful because she doesn’t think she would have been able to concentrate.
Anna’s life was okay until yesterday. She was annoyed at the judge because he was not willing to make their relationship public, but it was nothing out of the ordinary. Just the usual spat between lovers. The judge had been honest from the start. He had told her that while he was looking for something serious and steady, he was not willing to go public about it. He insisted that he was a married man and he was not willing to divorce his wife of thirty two years.
She had initially felt insulted and told him to get lost. He had apologized and left. But in the days that followed she could not get him from her mind, so she called him and told him that she was willing to be ‘platonic friend’. The platonic part of the friendship failed on the first day he visited her apartment, which was six days after he initially asked her to be his girlfriend, and they became lovers.
As she led him to her bedroom, he asked her twice whether she was sure, and reminded her that she would be a secret lover. She assured him that she was okay with the situation. And that is how their affair began.
Yesterday Anna had an application to argue in the afternoon. She hates going to court in the afternoon, and had been irritated at the magistrate who had refused to hear her in the morning. When she was leaving the court premises, a male advocate approached her.
Milimani Law Courts is usually a beehive of activity in the morning, with lawyers, clerks and litigants walking up and down. In the afternoon though, most courts are usually done with the business of the day and the court premises are usually almost empty.
“Hello Counsel,” the young man had said. Anna is no longer so sure that the man was an advocate, but he looked like one. He was dressed in a blue pinstripe suit, a white shirt and maroon tie. He was carrying a brief case on his left hand and file on the other. The file had a name of a law firm engraved on it, but Anna cannot remember which law firm. Maybe it was even a fictitious law firm.
“Hello,” she had replied. It was not his suit that had caught her attention. Every young lawyer from a top or midsized law firm can afford to dress smartly. It was his beard that stood out. He had a long and well tended goatee, which was gleaming black. It was the kind of beard that probably had its own stylist, separate from the rest of the (lesser) hair. If there is anything that the goatee lacked, which is doubtful, that thing could not be attention. Even as he addressed her, he was stroking it idly in such a way that she had to notice it.
“Can we grab a cup of coffee across the road? I need to pick your brain on something.”
Anna had not been anxious to take that coffee. She had tonnes of work waiting for her at the office, deadlines and urgent assignments that constitute the life of an advocate in a busy firm. Besides she is generally not a very social individual. Talking to strangers and acquaintances is one of the things that she tries to avoid.
“I am sorry wakili, but I need to dash back to the office.”
“It will not take long, I promise.”
“Can’t we discuss it here?”
“It is a personal matter; I can’t risk someone I know stumbling into us.”
That response had puzzled Anna, and part of her wanted to flee. She did not want to get entangled in anyone’s private life. But the lawyer looked earnest and she did not have the energy to argue. Besides, he was suggesting that they take coffee at a public restaurant that is opposite the court premises. She reluctantly agreed.
“So what can I do for you? And what is your name?” She had asked impatiently, when they settled at a corner in the restaurant.
“My name is not important, Anna. But what I am about to tell you is. So listen carefully.”
“How do you know my name?”
“That is not important either.”
The tone of the lawyer had changed at that point. He had ceased to be a man desperately seeking help and became more forceful and authoritative. Anna felt a chill down her spine. But the man was not done.
“My clients want a little assistance. They are willing to pay handsomely.”
“They are your clients, counsel. You help them,” she had replied, becoming aggressive herself.
“I wish I could. But you are the one who is best placed to help them.”
“What do they want?”
The lawyer leaned forward in a conspiratorial manner before responding.
“They want Justice Ombot taken out.”
Anna felt her blood run cold in her veins.
“You got the wrong person. I am a lawyer, not an assassin.”
“There is no need of pretending, Anna. My clients know that you are having an affair with the judge, and that he comes to your house every day. I will just give you something to put in his drink. Make sure you give it to him as he leaves your house. He leaves your house at around 11pm, doesn’t he? He will crash his car on his way home and die. Nobody will ask questions. That will be the end of it. My clients are willing to pay you five million shillings for your services. Quick, easy money.”
“Have your clients considered the fact that I might actually be in love with the judge and wouldn’t want to do anything to harm him?”
“Come on, Anna. Don’t be stupid. You are pregnant with a child he will never recognize…”
“How do you know that?” Anna asked. She was positive that she had never told anyone except the judge himself about her pregnancy. And it is unlikely that the judge told anyone, considering that he was the one who needed the matter kept under wraps.
“My clients know a lot of things, Anna. Anyway, are you going to help my client or not?”
“I am not going to kill the judge.”
“Okay, but just know that that is a very stupid decision. The judge will die one way or another, and you will be left without a sponsor. Besides, my clients know how to keep a grudge. Once they are done with the judge, they will turn to you.”
“Is that a threat?”
“Yes, and not an empty one, trust me. My clients know where you live in Westlands. They also know where your parents live in Eldoret. They also know where your sister lives in Nakuru and your brother in Hurlingham. If you don’t do this, you and your family will not live long after the judge is dead. If I were you, I would take the money and run. So I will ask again, will you take the money or do you want to put the lives of your family members on the line?”
“Can I think about it?”
“We do not have time. My clients want the judge gone tonight. That is why they need your help. You are the one who can do this quickly and quietly.”
Anna had felt at that point that she had no choice, so she agreed to take the money. The mysterious lawyer handed her a suspicious looking sachet with instructions for her to empty its contents into the judge’s drink as he left her apartment. The rest would take care of itself, he said.
The lawyer had then made a call and two million five hundred shillings was wired into her account. He said the rest would be wired when the job was done.
Anna is staring at her computer but no work is getting done. Tears are streaming out of her eyes and she is trying hard to hide them because she doesn’t want to attract the attention of her colleagues.
A message from her bank has just popped up on her phone. Two point five million shillings have just been wired to her account. Blood money. That message is surprising because she did not expect them to send this last installment.
What will I tell my unborn child happened to his/her father? She asks herself over and over again.
Joan watches the news with a satisfied smile on her face. She and her father keep active files on all the judges that have the potential of hearing disputes relating to their company. That includes all the Court of Appeal judges and the all the judges in the commercial and family divisions of the High Court. Family division is on the list because some of the properties the old man Musa eyes are usually caught up in hopeless succession battles.
The old man Musa is a ruthless corporate shark who will do anything to maintain the profitability of his companies. That includes underpaying employees and firing those who murmur, swindling suppliers, bribing regulators and buying or blackmailing judges. He kills occasionally, but he prefers not to. That is why he keeps files on judges. If he can influence decisions of the courts, then he can destroy people without having to kill them. Those are lessons he passed on to his daughter when handed her the mantle.
To keep tabs on judges and competition, the old man used old style private investigators. Joan has upgraded the system and now has a bunch of tech savvy youngsters on one floor of the office building. Their work is surveillance. Unlike the old style investigators, these youngsters do not have to follow anyone around to know what they are up to. They simply hack into phones and email accounts and even bank accounts and can access all the information they want. Through software that they install on their victim’s phones, the can even listen to their victim’s verbal, face to face communications.
But she also has a few undercover agents attached to some of her targets. Their work is to collect gossip that the gadgets might otherwise miss. The gadgets rely on the victims carrying their smart phones all the time, which is not always the case especially with the older generation.
Unlike Lerian, Joan’s old man Musa did not split up his business amongst his four children. The Musa Group of Companies is still one entity, with the old man as the Chairman and Joan as the CEO. Joan’s three siblings have units to run and sit on the board but they report to her and the old man. The hierarchy is very clear.
Joan earned her father’s respect when she cannibalized Lerian’s empire. Lerian and Musa are old rivals, although the rivalry existed only in Musa’s head. Lerian was not aware that he and Musa were competing for anything. Musa was very jealous of Lerian because the latter had been able to build a formidable business without using any underhand tactics.
Joan married Peter just so she could help her father bring down Lerian. When Lerian split up his interests, Joan moved in quickly and gobbled up Peter and Simon’s units through proxies and shadowy corporations. Simon’s business partner was on Joan’s payroll. The two younger Lerian men are fools, and it wasn’t difficult to bring them down.
But their sister Sharon is as intelligent as their father was, and Joan has finally realized why Musa had been unable to destroy the older Lerian. Sharon is sharp as a razor and tough as nails. But now Joan has clear game plan of bringing her and her little empire down.
She will kill Harry, Sharon’s husband. Then she will ensure that the appeal that Harry lodged lands in the hands of judges that she, Joan, can blackmail or bribe. That will leave the company in the hands of Peter and Simon. Joan will facilitate the transfers. When that is done, she will help her husband swindle his brother Simon and wrestle Sharon’s share away from her. Then she will kill Peter and all the property will become hers.
Nothing will be more fulfilling than bankrupting Sharon. Joan is the apple of her father Musa’s eye. He considers her to be a better businessperson than her brothers, which is why he made her the CEO. But the old man Musa has a grudging respect for Sharon. The same kind of respect he had for her late father Lerian. Because like her father, Sharon has built a company without cutting corners or cheating the system. That makes Joan very jealous of Sharon.
But her day is coming soon. The old man will be very proud of her on the day the Lerian Group will become part of the Musa Group of Companies.
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