8: MEET THE DEVIL

Mrs Osasere Aburime, popularly called Madam Grace had lived in Portugal 15 years prior to the Jennifer incidence. She was famous for trafficking teenage girls from Nigeria across West Africa to Europe. Rumour had it that she had apartments in Cotonou, Accra, Abidjan, Freetown and Bamako. They said she also ran local brothels in Napoli and Malaga.

She had settled a number of girls who had paid up huge amounts of money to her after many years of prostitution. She would use the money to sponsor other girls from Africa to Europe and that was how she made her money. It was rumoured that the Police had been on her trail for over two years but they had not been able to caught her red handed. She had been using some shakers including Efe and Abu to retrieve money from her girls. She was as a matter of fact, running the biggest African Human trafficking syndicate in the City of Lisbon.

Madam Grace had a Permanent Resident permit in Portugal where she had been living for years. She was married to another Edo state born man who was just a statue in her life since she dictated the pace of the marriage and more. They had three daughters and no son. They lived in Baixa ( downtown) area where most of the residents were non European citizens.
Madam Grace also had an African shop where she sold food items from Africa as a cover up for her operations. She also sold Drinks in a small room behind her store where she rented out to people for quick sexxx.
Her cup was getting full. She had rented an apartment for her girls in Lisbon where they lived. According to Jennifer, the apartment where the girls lived was in an area of Lisbon called Belem. It was miles apart from where she lived and only a few of her favourite girls were privileged to know where madam Grace lived; Jennifer was one of them.

Unfortunately for her, Jennifer knew her real names and the address where she lived.

I had started collecting info on her from the moment she confronted me for the first time in Colombo business district.
I had piled up a dossier on her and as it stood, I was going to make money out of it since she was after me.

Over 6 hours after Jose’s call, she called him back and begged him to reduce the money. She gave two conditions to us.
She wanted us to reduce the money to 1000 euros which was the original asking price and the second condition was that she must get Jennifer back.

I wasn’t that interested in the money but getting Jennifer back was a non-negotiable affair. Jennifer said she wasn’t going back and that was where I stood.

We were eagerly waiting for Olokun to strike us down from A small river in a Benin forest of Edo state Nigeria. I had talked some sense into Jennifer and she had understood that fear was the greatest enemy of human mind.

Jose hung the phone and laughed at the amount the woman agreed to pay. I was tempted to go for the money but Jose said we could get much more. He said since the woman had a permit from Portugal, she would be fished out anywhere in Europe if she ran away. He also argued that madam Grace must have had other girls around Europe which meant that she couldn’t run down to Africa; A claim Jennifer affirmed. Jose was thinking like a criminal and I began to be wary of him too.

Madam Grace called back and increased to 2000 euros plus Jennifer. Jose proposed 8000 euros minus Jennifer. They continued the argument.

Jose cut off the phone calls every two and half minutes. He told me that it would take the Policia about three minutes to place a trace on any phone call.

When Madam Grace called again for the fifth time, she asked where I was. jose told her that I went down to get a bag for traveling out of the Country and that if she didn’t come across the river with the money in the morning, it could be too late. They had settled for 5000 euros Plus Jennifer but I was not going to let her go. Madam Grace would skin Jennifer alive if she got her hand on her again.

We devised a plan on how to get the money.

Jose will drive with two other people who would be waiting in the car some few meters away from the exchange point.
She would naturally demand for Jennifer since she had told us to come with her to the exchange point.
Jose would then tell her that those people in the car were his police friends and that he had not told them about the exchange.
He would threaten to call them if madam refused to hand the money to him.

He had also told madam not to come with his hit squad Efe and Abu. He told madam Grace that he knew all about her and that he would call the deal off if he saw any of them in the area. Madam was told to come with a taxi and not the train. She was also told to come to a busy area where his hit squad, if she managed to bring them along, could not be able to do anything.

At about 11am on December 24, 2005, Jose called Madam and they agreed to meet at the AVENIDA DE LIBERTADE, (The liberty avenue, a 90-meter wide avenue) the busiest avenue in Lisbon Portugal.

The day had finally come. Madam Grace had made the mistake of trying to be smart with me and she must pay for it.

Based on the plans, I was not supposed to follow Jose and his friends to the venue. They were Portuguese citizens and if things went bad, they could easily get out of it.
But I wanted to witness the exchange whether it was dangerous or not. I took a taxi and stopped 300 meters down the street. I walked slowly up to a few meters from the roundabout at the beginning of AVENIDA DA LIBERDADE.

It was the busiest avenue in Lisbon with trees planted in the middle of the roads. The entire area was spared during the great earthquake that turned Lisbon into a Valley city.

I went into the Louis Vuiton shop near the roundabout and stood near the window where I could see everything that was going to happen outside. I had a feeling that the shop owners at Louis Vuiton would ask me to leave if I stood in one place for a long time, so I brought out 200 euro and held it in my hand for everyone to see, then I walked around the window inspecting some over-priced Tshirts.

A few minutes later Efe and Abu came out of a Taxi and entered the Calvin Klein shop across the road opposite where I was. I had seen them once during the botched Elephant Blanco meeting but they didn’t see me, therefore I assumed they couldn’t identify me.

I removed my phone from the pocket and called Jose.
” I am at the AVENIDA. I just saw Madam Grace’s two thugs. They went into the Calvin Klein shop near the roundabout. You need to call Madam and change the venue” I told him.

He thanked me and hung up. Five minutes later, two black Policia cars stopped in front of the Calvin Klein shop and four heavily built police officers entered the shop.
They came out Five minutes later with Efe and Abu in cuffs. They pushed both of them inside the backseat of one of their vehicles and drove away.

I called Jose again but he didn’t pick the call. I left the Louis Vuiton shop and walked ten meters down to a public pub. I ordered a cup of Sagres beer as soon as I sat down. The beer was brought together with the receipt. I paid for the beer and waited for Jose’s call while drinking .
My phone rang in my pocket and I grabbed it as if it was hot. I looked on the screen and saw Jenny. Then I picked the call.
” How are you baby” I said.
” I am fine. I just want to make sure nothing had happened to you. I told you not to go. I can’t imagine…..”

” Jenny” I cut the words from her mouth.
” I am fine. I will be back before wanawa( one hour). Prepare something for me to eat.” I said and cut the call before she could say anything else.

Ten minutes later, a message came into my phone. I checked it and saw that the number wasn’t stored in my phonebook. It was Jose’s number. I opened the text message and it read
” Business good meet bar 30 minuto”

I slowly put the phone back into my pocket and looked around carefully. Nobody was staring at me.
I left my beer glass half way and scrambled out of the pub. I looked left and right to make sure nobody was interested in me, then I crossed the road and stopped a cab.
I drove to our rendezvous point; the bar where I had met Jose in the MONTIJO district.
Jose wasn’t there when I came. I waited for him with a half glass of Chivas Regal scotch. He showed up alone twenty minutes later and located me at the extreme end of the bar where I sat alone.
He walked up to me and sat down opposite me. I did a great job at hiding my anxiety.
The end of the bar where we were seated was poorly lighted. It was getting dark outside too.
Jose brought out a bundle of Euros carefully strapped with a rubber band. It was a mixture of 200s, 100s and 50 euro bills.

He said he had not counted them. I told him to count them and after two minutes, he announced that we had made 5000 euros.
I asked him how much he promised his two friends, he said it was 500 euros each.
He took the 1000 Euros and another 1000 for himself and gave me 3000 euros.
I handed him another 500 euros and told him that the job has not yet finished.

Madam Grace would pay again for sending the thugs to the AVENIDA DA LIBERDADE where the original exchange was supposed to take place.

Jose, after learning from me that Efe and Abu, two African Immigrants had been sent to the exchange point, he called the Police and informed them. He told me that he suspected that they could have come with weapons, so he called the Police emergency number and told them where they entered as I had told him.
The Police had searched them and found out that they had no weapons but they had no resident documents as well. The Police took them away.
Jose had found out from the manager of the Calvin Klein shop.

Now that madam Grace’s thugs were out of the way, it was time to ask for more money or smash her syndicate.

I opened my phone and called madam Grace. She picked the call after the first beep.
” Where is Jennifer, I don settle your agent, send Jennifer back now now” she yelled from the other end of the call.

” Listen Madam Osasere or Grace, I think you should be more concerned about your thugs” I said calmly. She kept quiet from the other end of the phone.
” they are in the Police station and they are going back to wherever they came from” I said without expecting a response from her.

” Next time when I call you, do as I say or you will be the next person in the Police net” I said and hung up.

Jose laughed and sipped his Chivas. He was apparently enjoying the game.

I called Jennifer and told her to come to the bar if she was bored. She said she was watching a Nigerian movie. I told her that I would come back in an hour and hung up.

Jose and I drank more scotch and about 40 minutes later, we left the bar and dispersed.

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