Mercenaries for hire – a true life story Pt 1

“If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine; Its lethal.” 

Mercenaries for hire

Adebola’s only task on his third trip within a week to the university campus in Ife was to get a mercenary who was willing to sit for all ten subjects that Kapo offered in his first year at the Polytechnic in Esa-Oke 71km away.

His last trip was just as unsuccessful as the one before it. No student was willing to travel 2 hours to the rustic town of Esa-Oke, where craters disguised as potholes dotted the narrow roads fit only for bicycle rides.

No amount of money could lure the few undergraduates he spoke with as the second semester examinations at the university was only just confirmed to commence a week after the scheduled Polytechnic examinations!

In fact, their conversations never got to the money part, it ended abruptly with an emphatic NO, the moment he mentioned the period of the examination.

But Kapo was insistent that the mercenary had to be a student from the famous Great Ife or nothing. He held students from the citadel of learning in high regard. Besides it was the most respectable higher institution nearest the Polytechnic. If he was going to get someone to sit in his place for the upcoming examinations, then it had to be the pick-of-the-litter, nothing less.

Adebola and Kapo were first cousins that grew side by side in a village that no longer existed after it was ravaged by rampaging soldiers after one of their colleagues was brutally murdered by the youths. Soldiers that swore to defend hapless and harmless citizens of the country left all the houses in nothing but ashes and burnt cinder. That black night, under more stars than the imagination could ever conjure, the flames they started consumed most of their farmland, defended in futility by their parents with sticks and hoes. They paid the ultimate price for their gallantry.

Only the crying boys and girls were spared by the emotionally indifferent and livid soldiers who had turned their peaceful community into a theater of war.

The cousins’ roots were already tangled and inseparable since the violent invasion. Their commitment and loyalty to each other was forged by memories of many years of unsettled and nomadic childhood. They had lost their childhood to life and had been forced to fend for themselves as adults when they were barely teens.

Sometimes Kapo could still hear the rat-tat-tat of their automatic machine guns in his sleep. He would instinctively feel for the cold steel of his semi-automatic gun right under his pillow for comfort. He was the leader of the most feared cult group in Esa-Oke. He was the Al Capone – the undisputed and most revered criminal in Esa-Oke known to only a few but feared by many.

They had survived the carnage at his village and lived in a missionary schoolhouse till they were 19 where they were protected from the violence that had truncated their childhood and their paths set right or so it seemed.

Kapo had warned his cousin that he would have to make the trip to the campus as many times as was necessary until he found the one person who was willing to sit for his papers. He had stashed enough money away secretly with his girlfriend, Karo, to pay for the services of the anointed one. It was a mission that must be accomplished.

The frequent trip had taken a toll on Adebola’s shoulders as they bore the full brunt of the discomforting and bumpy ride between both institutions. As the bus rocked from side to side through the same familiar roads, his shoulders were constantly wedged violently into the steel shell of the old clanker. It was enough torture to deter him from returning empty handed.

He walked into the civil engineering department building farthest away from all other structures on the beautiful campus in search of this elusive mercenary. Someone had advised him to speak to some of the final year students at the department. They were supposedly more mature and could agree to his proposition.

After toiling the building for hours, one of the students loitering the poorly lit corridors of the faculty building was kind enough to listen to him. After a carefully stating his mission, the young man gave him two names; Alex and Tayo; and a room number; Awolowo hall, room 202.

“If there is anyone, I know that can pull this off, it would be any of these two boys. Speak to them” the student advised.

Armed with their details Adebola hailed a motorbike to Awolowo Student Residents Hall. He checked his wristwatch. He had enough time.


It had been a long day of seemingly endless lectures and note writing, Tayo wanted nothing more than a tasty meal and a good rest when he sauntered into the room he shared with three of his friends. His body had been thoroughly beaten by the afternoon sun and the sweat beads that slithered down his face bore the evidence of the punishment.

He didn’t have enough money to pay for a meal and he half-hoped that one of his room mates would have cooked something he could share in. The room was empty when he locked the door behind him and the burner of the stove looked like it was on an extended vacation. His stomach squirmed loudly in protest.

Alex, his roommate, course mate and bosom friend, arrived a few moments later with food stuffed in a plastic pack, so much that the cover could not hold it down. His girlfriend, Lara, had prepared lunch for them on his request.

They settled quickly to the meal when they first heard the knock. It was a three-tap sequence, strong and loud, the sort that demanded a response.

When Alex swung the door open in annoyance, he had hoped to give the intruder a stern and quick dismissal. But this stranger was ungracefully thin and tall, nothing like anyone he had seen on campus. There was a calm demeanor about him that made Alex swallow the morsel of meat he was juggling between his mouth.

“Are you Alex?” Adebola asked, going straight to business without the usual pleasantries.

“Yes please” 

“Can I come in please”

“Let’s talk here, if it’s okay with you” Alex stood his ground.

The conversation went on from there to the amount on offer. This was the first time the conversation crystallized into value since the time Adebola had been engaging possible mercenaries. He was starting to get excited.

“This will cost you oh bros” Tayo joined in the conversation after listening most of the time. He had his fingers in his mouth picking a strand of meat between his molars.

“Its N10,000 per paper” Alex announced. That should scare him off, he thought, but Adebola nodded.

“You will take care of our transportation to and fro every day” Tayo added.

He nodded again.

“And in the event that we have to spend the night at the town, you will provide accommodation for our comfort” Alex chipped in.

He nodded twice.

With a finger still in his mouth Tayo whispered, “You will provide booze and girls to make our study even more interesting. We like to study hard”. He winked.

This time it was a half-nod.

“I hope that all the necessary arrangement has been made to ensure we don’t get busted by the invigilators?”

“Yes, everything is secured. Don’t worry for your safety, Kapo is a big man on campus. All your conditions would be passed to him, and I will let you know our offer”

“Bros, this request is a take-it-or-leave-it. You know we have exams the next week, and we also need to study. These are the only conditions that would make this arrangement work. So let your Kapo know” Alex declared firmly.

“When you send your reply, please come along with all the notebooks for each course, tutorial papers and half the total sum. The earlier you come the better”

They were glad to know that all the courses they were to prepare for were science-based and would pose no serious concern, after all they were only year 3 university students planning to sit for a year 1 polytechnic examination. Nothing could be easier!

Pure bliss. Easy money!

“See you in two days!”

Adebola walked away satisfied. Kapo would be glad!


Kapo had conceded to their request and the initial sum had been hand delivered to the boys in cash during Adebola’s fourth trip two days later. He was kind to even ask for the sort of girls they would like to spend the evenings with and the sort of drinks they cared for. Kapo was that sort of person, who would do anything to make his guest comfortable.

The excitement from the boys was palpable and with their bags packed, fifty thousand naira well tucked in secret places in their room, they started the fateful journey to Esa-Oke led on by their chaperon, Adebola, in a cab hired for the trip.

Although Adebola had requested for just one mercenary, Kapo was going to get two!

Please click here to read the second episode of this story

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4 thoughts on “Mercenaries for hire – a true life story Pt 1”

  1. Pingback: Mercenaries for Hire – a true life story Pt 2 – Akin Akingbogun

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