TITLE: Guilty without Reason
AUTHOR: George Nnamani
CATEGORY/SUBJECT AREA: Prose/Fiction
IMPRINT: Enugu: DeRafelo Ltd, 2019
The first part of the story introduces the reader to two key characters Dr Ambrose Ignis and Dr Joshua Metu. They were both enjoying the game of scrabble on a cold and windy Sunday evening. Dr Ambrose – humorous fellow is the Chief Paediatrician of the National Hospital at Eden. His friend Dr Joshua – Clinical and Behavioural Psychologist; is the owner of METS CONSULT and also has a PhD in criminology.
The two friends halted their games when John Ibenda popularly referred to as “bag of bones” walked passed Troja Street. Ibenda is the hangman at Stonewall Fortress Prison who many people mistake to be a secret detective. The two friends began to discuss the hangman while abandoning their game. Dr Metu narrated to his friend who was previously away from the country of how Ibenda got married to Monica as her fourth husband. Despite her bedevilling and mischievous behaviour, men are always ready to scoop her because indeed she is a beautiful woman. While continuing their game, Dr Ambrose posited his frustration with his wife busy schedule as a banker which deprives him of marital bliss. Dr Metu countered his friend by narrating his ordeal of how he has to put up with his wife Anna, a full-time housewife that loves attention.
Down the road, John Ibenda was not having a pleasant day. His victim of today’s execution was Philip Agama, a former schoolmate in primary school. The most depressing situation is the fact that he lost his entire salary earlier in the day to sports betting. It spelt doom for him since Monica is likely to brain him down since he no longer has the means of providing for her pedicure and other of her extravagant needs.
The cynosure of this chapter is with Dr Joshua Metu. He has been in a protracted court battle with Elder Alfred for the past eleven years. The court case is about a building supposedly purchased by Metu from vendors whose title later turned out to have a question mark. He had previously suffered defeat at the High Court which he attributed on the incompetency of his first lawyer Mike which prompted him to make an appeal in the Court of Appeal with Barrister Morga as his legal counsel.
On this particular day, after yet another legal session at the court. Metu decided to go to his consulting firm against going to his house. Due to the overbearing attitude of his wife. At the office, while consulting with clients, things took an unexpected turn when Hangman John Ibenda walked into his office for a consultation. Not farfetched, Ibenda’s case was about his nagging wife who had recently attempted to brain him with a pestle. In the evening, Metu visited his friend and narrated his consultation session with Ibenda, his near-death because of his wife.
The chapter ends with a description of how Metu and Anna fell in love way back in the University and how the relationship metamorphosed into marriage. Narrating his experience, he describes how the spark in their relationship has diminished over time as a result of sexual incompatibility.
The tail wagged the dog on the 14th day of March when the news broke out that there has been a murder incidence at Joni Street. The residents and neighbours ransacked the whole neighbourhood to unravel the apartment where the gruesome event has taken place. Everyone was shocked when they discovered that the victim is Monica, the wife of John Ibenda. Everyone thought the scenario would have played out a different way. When the police arrived at the crime scene, they also discovered the corpse of a young man lying across an empty bag of rice in the house. John Ibenda went with the police to the station pending investigation as he was the prime suspect.
Dr Ambrose was about to take a short break from work after a long session of consultation. He received a notification on his WhatsApp messenger indicating that Monica was murdered, he quickly put a call across to Dr Joshua. He did not believe the information and sounded disinterested because as his case at the court earlier in the day was not favourable in his direction. His lawyer was absent, and the fellow sent to hold the brief was inexperience and knew very little about the case.
The penultimate part of this chapter talks about Enoch Mansur. The Police Commander at Eden. Mansur is displeased with the way crime was being perpetrated under his very noise. These incidents were tainting his image now that Ignis Majora is about to retire as the Commander General. Mansur is fourth in line to succeed the Commander General hence the importance of why he has to maintain a high ranking. To unravel the culprit behind the murder, he assigned the investigation to Barth O’ Connell whose portfolio exhumed competence and diligence.
Barth O’ Connell handling the murder case made his first stop at the Homicide Office to obtain the case file from Peter Edet. He had before now envisaged that he would be assigned the court case so that he would be able to extort detainees and use the proceed to purchase his dream car.
In the crime scene, the prime suspect of the murder case is Anthony Melonye, Elizabeth Sander and John Ibenda. Anthony Ibenda is an amateur basketball player who was only loitering around the crime scene as at when the killing took place. Elizabeth Sanda, on the other hand, is a Wayfarer who is travelling to Biaffa. She came into the picture when she decided to take a stroll after finishing her meal. She got arrested by policemen. Barth O’ Connell freed all the detainees at no cost as he thought that there is no way a murderer or his accomplice loiter around a crime scene.
Later on, Barth O’ Connell summoned John Ibeda the prime suspect of the case to his office to get his statement. When Ibenda entered his office, he looked like a walking corpse. It prompted the Sergeant to order food for him. After the meal, he began to make a confessional statement about his innocence to the murder of his wife. He posited that even though both spouses embroiled with each other, he has no reason to carry out such an act. The chapter ends with the Sergeant giving him a paper to write down his statement.
On a cold rainy night, Sergeant Barth decided to visit four residents at Joni Street to be able to get useful information required to apprehend the culprit of the murder case. The Sergeant prefers to visit witnesses at night because he is of the school of thought that people tend to tell the truth when approached at night than in the day. Amongst the four persons, he interviewed that night, only Hon. Chuzzy was able to provide reliable information. The other three individuals posited of their knowledge of the feud between the couples. They had even expected Ibenda to be the victim and not the other way round. On account of Hon. Chuzzy, he was seated on his balcony at around the time the murder took place. According to him, he saw a muscular young man popularly known as machine enter Ibenda house at around 10 am that morning. Afterwards, another young man with a small stature which fits the description of Ibenda came into the house shortly.
Away from the crime scene, Metu with his Secretary Joe-Joe met with Alhaji Idris El-Amin – Minister of Internal Affairs. In the meeting, the Minister briefed them on how the Government of Alfador plans on collaboration with their consulting firm on rehabilitating repentant terrorist. After the successful outing, Metu did not waste time to inform Ambrose of the mouth-watering contract his firm got.
Still in the crime scene, Sergeant Barth had no other option than to bank on the information provided by Hon. Chuzzy in reporting his investigation. But just before he concludes investigation and sends his report to the Commander, he decided to check out the call logs and text messages of Ibenda and late Monica. His search did not indict Ibenda of committing the crime or suggestion whatsoever. The Sergeant was sentimental about implicating the crime on Ibenda decided to make a final attempt by visiting the house of the suspect. After searching the house, he was only able to find two complementary cards in the closet of Monica.
On the other hand, Metu proposal in the domestication of repentant prisoners got approved by the President of Alfador. Unexpectedly, the contract was magnanimously rewarding and as well as overwhelming to the extent that he needed to employ more staff at his firm.
This chapter opens with the commendation of Sergeant Barth by Commander Enoch Mansur of his diligent effort in handling the murder case so far. The Commander also gave him reasons why he needs to send in his report as soon as possible especially now that the media and lawyers have begun clamouring for constitutional violation of human right due to the prolonged detainment of Ibenda.
The Sergeant who is bent on exonerating Ibenda requested for an extra week to send in his report. Taking the investigation to another level, he asked for all the call logs of all the contacts saved on Monica’s phone from the service provider which her phone line contacted. While going through the details of her conversation, he was able to indict three persons wherein conjugal relationship with Monica right before her death. Sergeant Barth saw this discovery as a gateway to unravel the individual who masterminded the murder.
The story takes a different twist when Sergeant Barth decided to turn the light of his investigation to the two individuals whose complementary cards he retrieved from Monica’s room. He visited Metu at his consulting firm under the guise of seeking help for his brother that got deported from Washington DC for drug addiction. For him to book an appointment, Barth requested for Metu’s complimentary card. After collecting the card, Sergeant Barth took it immediately to a forensic expert for analysis.
The forensic analysis result showed that the fingerprint on the complimentary card belongs to that individual that held or swung the stick used in killing the victims. The next Monday afternoon, Metu got arrested at the premises of his company for the murder of Monica. Ambrose on hearing about the arrest of his fried quickly arranged for Barrister Nathaniel to represent his friend as a legal counsel. While at the police command, Josh Metu wrote his statement denying knowledge of the crime. He also went further to reassure his friend that he was not in any way guilty as the accusations leverage against him. It was only a setup masterminded by rivals in his line of business now that he is handling the contract with the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
Following the arraignment of Metu, his business suffered a big blow as none of his company clients was willing to return for consultation or treatment. The problem got worse, the Ministry of Internal Affairs was now requesting the refund of one million dollars because of the company non-compliance to the agreement stated on the contract.
The court was filled to the brim on the day that Metu was to be arraigned for the murder of Monica. Before the day’s proceeding, Peter Odita announced the death of Ibenda. In the witness box, Metu pledged not guilty for the Murder of Monica and Kelvin. Witnesses were called out to testify. The most striking of all is the testimony of Sergeant Barth. He revealed the infidelity Metu had with the diseased and also how the result of the forensic analysis indicates Metu murdered Monica. Barrister Nathaniel on the other hand while defending Ibenda did not take it easy with the witnesses against his client as he crosses examined them critically.
In the last chapter of the book, the final verdict on the murder case was given by Lord Edward. During the last court session, Metu was called to answer questions about his supposed involvement in the murder of Monica and Kelvin. Following the instructions given to him by Barrister Nathaniel, he was able to answer Peter Odita questions cleverly without fumbling. After an intense battle between the two learned practitioners representing their respective clients, the case was adjourned for a final hearing.
On the day judgement was to be reeled out, Ambrose arrived late to the courtroom due to traffic and was eventually not allowed into the courtroom because the judge was already pronouncing judgement. In no distant time, Metu came out chanting the song of freedom. I am a free he shouted. Metu, Ambrose and Nathaniel on their way to his come confessed to Barrister Nathaniel that he was responsible for the killing of Monica and Kelvin. According to him, he did not want her to engage in any other affairs except with her husband. On the day he was to carry out the evil act, he bribed the court clerk to declare him present while he perpetrated the crime. It was through this alibi that he was able to win the case at the court.
On getting to his home, he discovered that his wife Anna had left with the children. He beckoned on Ambrose and Barrister Nathaniel to accompany him to his firm. On getting to METS CONSULT, they met an empty premise as there was no sign of life even with the massive looting of the company’s properties. Before they could make sense of the situation on the ground, some officers from Interpol arrested Ibenda on the account defrauding the country of Alfador. From an Olympian height, he had crashed to the ground! Alas, he was the next victim of Monica.
Guilty without Reason is a glamorous crime story set in Eden, Alfador a country begets by crime, infidelity and corruption. The central character is John Ibenda, a hangman for much of the period covered by the book, a man who gets entangled in the ocean of misery when he marries Monica as her fourth husband. Ibenda lives through a terrible life when his wife frustrates him daily with her bedevils and promiscuous lifestyle. The story begins with the extrapolation of Ibenda life by two major characters. Dr Ambrose – Paediatrician and Dr Metu Joshua – Clinical and Behavioural Psychologist with a PhD in criminology.
The story is told through Metu’s eyes and is essentially about Monica who got murdered alongside a young man in her matrimonial home. A crucial period is a time John Ibenda got detained for the murder of his wife – Monica. Dr Joshua Metu also clinched a mouth-watering contract from the Ministry of Internal Affairs for the domestication of a repentant terrorist. Things began to fall apart for him when he eventually lost his family, company and adjudged for a major financial crime.
Guilty without Reason is an essentially anti-climax Juristic novel and an extended metaphor for African despoliation, life and crime. Nnamani’s writing style would be reason enough to read this novel. He simultaneously lyrically and spare and used the third person point of view. There are a lot of extraneous words which makes the story remotely Spartan. Through Ibenda, we can access the unpopular lives of men in Africa who are constantly tormented, frustrated and dragged to death by the bedevils of their wives. The story is a confirmation of the fact that the heart of man is desperately wicked. One needs to be vigilant in the journey of life.
George Nnaamani’s main strength is the dialogue: as his characters speak, one hears the voices of modern Africa society. His description, however, sometimes lack subtly, and he failed in the path of connecting the flat characters intimately with the story. Also, the settings used in the makeup of the story will leave the reader with a vague and unreal experience. Readers with poor literal skill may find this book difficult to comprehend as most of the language used are complex.
I would recommend Guilty without Reason as a read for undergraduate students. The book is engaging, brilliant, captivating and not only is it a good laugh, but you get to travel along the journey of life with John Ibenda. You explore how people and individuals are routinely denied justice in a contemporary society supposedly aided by corrupt public officials. This book is exciting. I would recommend it to everyone. It has a high standing in my top ten list of books to read and hopefully, it will be yours too!
Notice: This book review and text evaluation of “Guilty Without Reason” was written for an academic assignment.