Oluwagbenga Osowe: Code red (30 Days, 30 Voices)


Code Red

He dialled his wife’s number once more to check on her but got the same response as before. The automated response of “the number you are dialling is not available at the moment…” had never seemed more ominous of evil than at that moment.

When Tunde Joshua dropped off his wife at her shop in Opebi earlier that day, nothing suggested to him that he might have to see her any time before evening – when he gets back from work. Joining the mad Lagos traffic, he smiled as thoughts raced through his mind on what would await him at home. A swell night, as promised by his darlng wife. Alice had taken him to the heights of connubial ecstasy last night with a promise that the next night was going to be completely and awesomely different.

After 2 long hours of detours and senseless traffic gridlock, he finally made it to his office at State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID), Panti, Lagos oblivious of the gloomy day ahead.

The text message came in just as Tunde stepped out of his car.  The words that stared at him from the screen of his Sony Ericsson U10i phone scared him in no way that he had ever experienced before or what other meaning could the words “Your  family **CODE**RED* some text missing*”  have other that the fact that his family was in danger.  This was the day he thought he would never see.

Quickly, he dialled his wife’s number to check on her safety but couldn’t get through to her. Network problems!  As he moved towards his office, thoughts of going to the communications room to dial the number with which the message was sent – under the pretence of confirming if the message was for him – whilst the geeks in the room trace the number came to his mind but that was when the full import of what happened hit him. The message was sent to his personal number which only his immediate family and few of his bosses had access to.

Whoever sent that message obviously had an access to what he considered “very personal” information and could be working from inside the office.  Muttering under his breath, different questions came to his mind. “What have I gotten myself into? How am I going to keep my family safe now that it’s obvious that the enemies are people close to me?” These questions kept popping up in his mind as his thoughts trailed to the very beginning of it all.

For 2 years after concluding the mandatory NYSC, Tunde had been unable to secure a worthwhile job. He was a graduate of the University of Lagos where he had studied Psychology. After countless interviews which didn’t yield much by way of positive results, and some spates of working in places where the pay, vis-à-vis the work schedule amounted to nothing else than modern day slavery, he resolved that he had had enough. When his friend Olu brought the recruitment forms for them to join the Force Criminal Investigation Department, he had filled it readily. Unfortunately, Olu didn’t make it through the screening process and there Tunde was, twelve years from then as a senior operative in the State Criminal Investigative Department, Alagbon.

Tunde’s thoughts flashed back to a particular day in the training college, during a seminar on Covert Operations. The lecturer, an agent from the American Criminal Investigation Agency (CIA) told them of the dangers of exposing one’s family while serving as an operative. With various examples of how many agents got compromised because their families were threatened, he ended the class with the admonition that “crises involving your family would very likely happen, how well or not you handle it might define your career”.

After ten years of active service, in various units of the Criminal Investigation Department including the Anti-fraud, Interpol and Homicide sections, all without negative incidences, he had come to develop what is now obviously a false confidence that there could be no threats to his family as long as he kept his tracks clean and left no traces. Now, this text message proves otherwise.

He dialled his wife’s number once more to check on her but got the same response as before. The automated response of “the number you are dialling is not available at the moment…” had never seemed more ominous of evil than at that moment.

Resolute and determined to do all he could to save his family, he took due permission in the office, got into his car and headed towards his wife’s store in Opebi.

As he wove through traffic, thoughts of what to do, whom to call and what line of action to take kept running through his mind but he knew he could only start acting on them after knowing the situation with his wife and kids.  Thankfully, there wasn’t much traffic at that time of the day, so he got to his wife’s store in just about forty minutes.

Anxious as to what lies ahead, he parked his car just outside shopping complex, got down and without as much greeting anybody moved towards Alice’s shop. As he moved closer to her shop, he saw his wife talking to their Pastor’s wife and she was holding what looked like a red fabric.  He heaved a sigh of relief and just then a message came in from the same number that had plagued his mind all day.

It read “The family of Pastor & Pastor Mrs Roland, humbly request the presence of *** as their son, David is joined in holy matrimony to his heartthrob, Nkechi. DRESS **: RED lace *** some text missing*”

He sighed, clapsed his hands and let out a series of laboured breaths as he calmed his anger. “Code Red, my training, my work, my family…ummm…everything getting back to me. These nightmares are getting scarier with every missed call, misunderstood message and loud bangs….” He muttered to himself. “…isn’t this time to quit for real?”

He left quietly and on getting to his car, his two side mirrors were gone…


Oluwagbenga Osowe is a teacher, educational consultant and an aspiring poet cum writer. Follow him – @gbengaosowe


30 Days 30 Voices series is an opportunity for young Nigerians to share their stories and experiences with other young Nigerians, within our borders and beyond, to inspire and motivate them.


Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

Comments (2)

  1. Now, I’m worried… He’s just gonna have to die for his country….

  2. Great twist. I was worried too on his behalf.

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