The Dual Mandate is a book authored by the first Governor General of then colony and Protectorate of Nigeria, Sir Frederick Lugard and published in 1922. In it, he details the wealth and potential of the yet-to-be greatest African nation.
A guide to this vulgate was written by one of the royal scribes serving under Lugard and posthumously published. The Atlantic Manuscript, as the volume has come to be known, contains hard facts. Raw data on Nigeria’s resources which were previously recorded with a calculated quick-glance-over-the-shoulder disposition in the Lugard account in the interest of national security.
The tome had since gone out of print. However, a copy of The Atlantic Manuscript (published in limited quantities) was stored under lock and key in the library of the Lord Lugard College. It was the last known surviving copy in existence. In the early hours of the morning, a security guard on patrol at the college had discovered the safe where the book was kept open and the volume gone. Someone had entered into the campus undetected and made away with one of the most sensitive publications in the history of the nation. No security gadget had been hacked by the thief.
Police sources claimed it was an insider job. All security personnel on duty had been detained for further questioning. But, Chris Caldo, a young reporter working for The National Gazette, an online news resource, believed there’s more to the whole drama than met the eye. This is the story of a young web journalist trapped in a game of intrigue, suspense and uncanny manslaughter.
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The early morning April sunlight was just poking the skies with flaming tentacles when a young man, sporting a burgundy plaid flannel shirt atop baggy jeans shorts, bounded up the steps of Kangan Police Department. The young man, Chris Caldo was a web reporter. He was on his way to interview the security personnel of Lord Lugard College where an important historical and highly sensitive document had been reportedly stolen. Caldo had a nose for trouble and he’ll stop at nothing to uncover the bizarre plot at work in the situation.
Something told him the security personnel were innocent and he was out to prove it. Caldo saw some police officers standing at the entrance of the police station and the sirens of his heart went bonkers.
“How the hell did they get past the guys on duty?” said one of the cops. The name tag on his breast said his name was John.
“Nobody heard anything until the wee hours of this morning.”
Caldo walked up to one of the officers, they knew him cause he’d been here many times. “Heard what, Jones?”
The cop eyed him probably, considering if it was safe to let the cat out the bag to an outsider especially him, a reporter. Then, he shrugged, to hell with it. What’s done’s done.
“They’re dead, Caldo.”
“Who’s dead?” But he already knew who.
“The security guys we brought in for questioning yesterday.”
“Nobody knows how it happened. One of our own was checking up on them this morning when he found they were lying facing the wall. They didn’t seem to be breathing, he said. He went in for a close up inspection and one by one they came up dead. Slit in the guts. Every one of them.”
“And nobody caught a suspicious figure entering or leaving the station?”
“Nothing. Look, Caldo, I already told you everything I know about this tragedy. I suggest you beat it before I get my ass fried for running off to a journalist.”
Caldo’s suspicions had just been justified. Any bias that may have fluttered in the investigators’ minds concerning college security involvement was now by all practical purposes, annihilated.
Our young reporter’s next port of call was the prestigious library of the Cornrow Local Council where fragments of The Atlantic Manuscript had been displayed. He was lucky to find they were as yet not tampered with. Caldo discovered little to stimulate his curiosity, but the few copied pages hinted at something he’d been suspecting existed-a secret mineral resources depot. This fragment mentioned CH4 was discovered in abundance at a mining site during the colonial times. CH4 is the main component of natural gas. This fragment didn’t name the location of the site.
That was okay as far as Caldo was concerned he’d seen enough. He’d read once that natural gas is fast taking the pride of place that once belonged to petroleum and the world aware of the rapidly decreasing quantity of petroleum had been searching for an alternative. Methane could be that alternative. Useful for electricity generation (something Nigerians can reckon with), and given time, transportation, as well.
But what the hell are the people involved in the theft of The Atlantic Manuscript up to, Caldo thought. This is not a capitalist economy; this is not a case of finders keepers. Eventually, they’re going to handover their discovery to the government! Caldo was almost sure the location of the natural gas was mentioned in the complete volume of The Manuscript.
He started putting the scant copies back on the shelf and a thought crossed his mind. What if they never intend to turn over their find? Whoever they were, what if? What if there’s a plot to mine the gas secretly and smuggle it out of the country? What if it’s the stakeholders in the oil business that fetched the book; they know interest in oil would slack if this information gets out? Caldo’s head was beginning to whirl with multiple what ifs. He returned the copies and pulled out his phone.
“This shit’s going to be all over the internet by nightfall, bozos. You watch if I don’t make it happen.” He placed a call through to his friend and colleague (the least he would make in a while). “Yo, Treach. Meet me at Cornrow College ASAP. Make that car of yours walk and talk this is urgent as hell.”
Caldo stepped outside the library and two men flanked him on both sides and showed him his new transport-a black Honda Accord-with the muzzle of a .357 S&W Magnum.
“This way, sir. Step lively,” said one of his entourage, he had the looks of a pirate.
“Damn,” Caldo said. “I should have known they’d come after the copies. Double damn.”
One of the bad guys had gone into the library and was now holding the loose sheets of copies of The Atlantic Manuscript.
Notes to myself:
The next time we see Caldo he’s in an interrogation room in a remote forest. He’d been excessively drugged and tortured to make him cooperate. They needed information. How many people had he told about The Atlantic Manuscript besides his friend, Treach (whom they claimed they’ve efficiently taken out of the way)? What did he really know about the book or its secrets? What did he know about The Organization? (That’s the folks in charge of the book theft and the killings.)
Every time we hear there’s an attempt to find an alternative to petroleum and every time the attempt comes up defeated. What really transpires behind the public eye?