(Continued from Troubled Castle II)
Janis’ heart almost leaps out of her chest. Her legs become groggy. She fears that she might wet herself. These men do not even have masks. Their cold eyes leave no doubt that they are killers. Cold blooded killers. Janis moves slowly to the nearest sofa and sits down.
She knows that Cyrus is an ambitious man and can be ruthless in pursuit of whatever he wants. But can he kill? Is he the one who has sent these men? Janis would like to think that her husband is not capable of murder, but she cannot imagine who else would want her dead.
Phanis, certainly. But Phanis would need Cyrus to do it. Which means he would still be responsible. Her own father is certainly capable of murder. In fact, Janis has always suspected that her father had something to do with the deaths of several businessmen and politicians in Chuka town. But Marangu, wicked as he is, cannot murder his own daughter.
Which leaves only Cyrus.
“We are here to kill you, madam. And we are very good at our job,” the gunman says, sending a chill down Janis’ spine. “But we will not do it.”
Janis looks at them questioningly. If they are not here to kill her, what do they want then? The gunman seems to read her mind.
“Your husband hired us to kill you. But we are loyal to your father. He took us under his wings when we were young and lacking direction. We owe him our lives. So we are here to protect you. These are my men. One will be your guard at the gate from now on. The other will be your driver. Others will be watching from the shadows. The Governor will certainly find other people to kill you but do not worry. Nobody can dare come against Rudolf. As long as you are under my protection, you are safe.”
He lowers the gun and returns it to his briefcase.
Janis is stunned. As a Christian, she wants to thank God for protection. But she is getting protected by certified murderers. Brutal men whose hands are soiled with blood. Does God approve?
Maybe not. Or maybe He does. Is this where you say “all things worketh out for good for them that love the Lord?”
Janis doesn’t know. Right now she is just relieved that a bullet will not be going through her head tonight.
“At least let me make you dinner,” she offers.
Rudolf takes up the offer on behalf of the team. He is a man of authority.
The call comes through shortly after 9 pm. It is Marangu, the man whose daughter he has ordered to get killed. Cyrus pities the old man. True, Marangu made him who he is. But he is now the Governor, on the way to Presidency, and his interests supersede those of everyone else, including Marangu. Of course, Marangu is not a fool. He will eventually know Cyrus ordered his daughter’s death. But what will he do? Janis will already be dead. And he, Cyrus, will still be a powerful Governor.
If the old man wanted power, he should have vied himself.
“Hello mzee,” he says warmly after picking the call as if everything is fine.
“Governor,” the old man says stiffly. This is the first time that Marangu is calling Cyrus “Governor”. He always refers to him as “my boy” or “my son”. Cyrus would ordinarily have been pleased, but something in Marangu’s tone tells him that the old man has not used the title out of courtesy.
“Ordering the assassination of my daughter is the worst mistake you have ever done since you were born,” the old man says and hangs up before Cyrus can respond.
Phanis hears the commotion first and wakes up Cyrus. There are strangers on the compound. The Governor calls his head of security but the man does not pick. He calls his bodyguard but he too does not pick. He starts panicking but he cannot afford to show weakness in front of Phanis.
He calmly gets out of bed and throws a bathrobe over his body. It is still early, at about 4.45 am.
“I don’t think you should go out there darling,” Phanis says, tugging at his arm. “They could be armed robbers.”
“I don’t care who they are. They have no right to violate my home,” he says with authority, even though his heart is pounding.
He walks down the stairs and to the front door. Phanis is following, but a safe distance behind. The intruders have already been let in by the officer guarding the front door. There are about five men and three women.
“Good morning Governor. We are a joint team from the EACC and DCI. We have a warrant to search your home,” one of the women, apparently the leader to the team says waving a piece of paper at Cyrus.
“You have no right to do that,” Cyrus says weakly.
“Oh yes, we do. Guys get busy. Governor, let us sit down. You and I need to have a chat,”
“At least wait until my lawyer gets here before you can do the search,”
The woman actually rolls her eyes.
“You will have plenty of time to talk to your lawyer governor.” She notices Phanis standing at a corner of the room. “And you, come here. Sit here too,”
“Watch how you talk to the First Lady,” Cyrus growls.
The woman smiles, lighting up her face into a dimpled glow.
“I know who the First Lady of Tharaka Nithi is, Governor. Her name is Janis. And I am sure this is not her,”
The search lasts for about an hour. The officers confiscate boxes of documents and gadgets including title deeds, the Governor’s phones and computers which have damning messages as well as loads of cash.
The lead officer stands up and stares at Cyrus.
“Cyrus Mwiti, you are under arrest for abuse of office and misuse of public funds. You have the right to remain silent as anything you say can be used against you in court,”
The dawn arrest of Tharaka Nithi Governor and the most popular presidential contender is the breaking news in all the TV stations. It is barely 6.30 am and Cyrus marvels at the speed at which they have gotten the story. He is watching the story from an office at the DCI offices in Chuka, where they are holding him waiting to take him to court when the day breaks. Phanis is with him, and his lawyer has joined them.
Someone must have told these reporters. The same person who sent the EACC on his tail.
How influential is that old man? Cyrus wonders what else the old man has in store for him. But he is confident he will prevail, then he will personally crush the old fool.
“Stephen, isn’t the search in my home before 8 am illegal?,” he asks his lawyer.
“It is. Under the revised, Penal Code searches should be conducted between 8 am and 5 pm. I intend to challenge it. They cannot use the documents they have obtained illegally to charge you,”
There are two Resident Judges at the Chuka High Court. Justice John Ndung’u is relatively young at 45. He was a private practitioner before joining the bench. Chuka is his first station. Lady Justice Christine Oduor, on the other hand, is a tough, 68-year-old judiciary veteran. She is known for being strict but fair. Very few of her decisions have been overturned on appeal. She started as a resident magistrate 37 years ago and rose through the ranks. She was appointed as a High Court judge 15 years ago. She seems content to retire at the High Court, as she has never applied to the Court of Appeal whenever vacancies are advertised.
The Governor’s case is placed before the senior judge, Lady Justice Oduor.
“Counsel, are you familiar with article 159 (2)(d) of the Constitution?” the judge growls at Stephen.
“Yes my Lady. However, my client has the right to a fair trial. And using documents that were obtained illegally is hardly fair,”
“Your client will get a fair trial in this court Counsel. I will make sure of it. If he is innocent, you have nothing to fear. Those documents will prove nothing. However, if he is guilty, I am not going to let him get away with it just because overzealous officers searched his house a couple of hours before time. That is the kind of procedural technicality that the Constitution says I ignore. Your client can sue for breach of privacy if he wishes. But he will be prosecuted. The prosecution has asked for 14 days to complete investigations. They have shown that the accused has the ability to tamper with witnesses. I, therefore, order that the accused be held at Chuka Medium Prison for 14 days. The matter will be mentioned on the 16th of July for further directions. Next,”
Cyrus is stunned. He will be spending 14 days in jail. 14! And at the Chuka Prison! How humiliating! Couldn’t they have taken him to Nairobi at least? Now he will spend time with local thieves?
The impeachment motion is introduced by Chogoria Ward MCA Justus Kinyua. It passes without any resistance. At the Senate, the Senators play it safe. The corruption scandal involving the Tharaka Nithi Governor has captured national psyche, and citizens are baying for blood. They are daring anyone to support him.
The Senators are politicians. They read the mood of the nation correctly and approve the impeachment of the Governor. Stephen files a petition at the Chuka High Court challenging the impeachment but Justice John Ndung’u holds that due process was followed, and therefore the impeachment is legal. Stephen dashes to the court of Appeal in Nyeri but the court refuses to certify the matter as urgent and sets a hearing date in November. No interim orders are given.
Two weeks later three things happen. First, Deputy Governor Lydia Mwende assumes office as the sixth Governor of Tharaka Nithi County. Second, the former Governor is granted bail on the abuse of office and corruption charges, but the prosecution brings the conspiracy to commit murder charges, and he is re-arrested shortly after release. Rudolf is ready to squeal on the plot to assassinate the former First Lady.
Most critically, Senator Mahmoud calls Janis and formally asks her to be his running mate in next year’s elections. Her star has risen even more with the downfall of her husband. Kenyans love conspiracy theories and she has been elevated to martyr status. She is now a household name around the country. The assassination attempt story will only fan the flames of gossip.
There is one catch though. The Senator wants her to go slow on her romance with Elijah. He thinks it will hurt their chances of winning the election. Janis’ profile has been built around her standing up to her cheating, sleazy husband. Her work with the youth and women in Tharaka Nithi, impressive as it is, is only a footnote politically speaking. If she finds love so soon, the Senator worries that the sympathy vote will go. So Janis has to choose between the Deputy Presidency and her love life.
The romance between Elijah and Janis has been gathering steam ever since she filed for divorce. He calls almost every day. Janis feels like a young girl again, chuckling on the phone and playing the teasing game. It is University days all over again.
At first, she was worried that people may take it the wrong way, finding a lover so soon after filing for divorce. They might even think she was cheating. And since women are judged more harshly than men, they might start saying that Cyrus sought other women because she was cheating on him. Which is, of course, not true. She has been faithful to Cyrus for the 11 years they have been married.
Now she doesn’t care. The Deputy Presidency can go to hell. She will do what makes her happy, and right now it is loving Elijah. She has already visited him twice in Limuru. Her two children are in boarding school so it has not been a problem. Elijah wants to visit but they are still discussing it.
She has just said goodnight to Elijah when her father calls.
“Hi baby,” he says soothingly.
“Hi dad, how are you?”
“I am well baby. How can I not be when my daughter is on the way to becoming the Deputy President?”
“That is not confirmed dad. First, Senator Mahmoud has not even been elected President yet. The election is months away. Two, the Senator has conditions that I am not sure I can meet,”
“That is why I am calling baby,” Marangu says. His voice has become harder. “You are making a mistake baby. You want to throw away a chance to gain power because of a small-time rural lawyer?”
“I love him, dad. In fact, those many years ago I should have married him instead of Cyrus.”
“Don’t be foolish Janis,” Marangu’s voice is now stern. “Get rid of that boy or I will.”
“Are you threatening…” Janis starts but the old man has already disconnected the call.
(To be continued)
I will publish the last installment of this series on Tuesday. On Friday I will be bringing the novella to you, my dear readers. The novella is a longer read than the series we do here. It is an eBook of about 55 pages.
Because it takes a bit more time and effort to put together a story that long, it will come at a small cost. It will go for a hundred bob. I will run an excerpt of the book, and that will serve as Friday’s story. But to access the whole book, you will buy me coffee with a hundred bob, via MPESA. The details of how you will do that will be shown on Friday.
The next weekly free series will start the Friday after. See you all on Tuesday, and thank you for the support so far!