“Mrs. Uchendu, how is work going?” The CSO greeted me casually sitting on one of the visitor’s chairs lined up in front of my table. The two police men stood behind him saying nothing and just staring at me.
“Good afternoon CSO, good afternoon gentlemen” I greeted the men in front of me “To what do I owe this impromptu visit?” I asked genially though I was freaking out on the inside. The CSO did not visit one’s office with two policemen just for laughs.
“Mrs. Uchendu, I am Detective Mark and this is my partner Detective Obinna. You are under arrest for embezzling one hundred thousand dollars from the company’s domiciliary account. You may remain silent for anything you say or do may be used against you in the court of law” He said moving towards me with handcuffs and I freaked out.
“I did not steal anything!” I shouted refusing to be handcuffed. “CSO, tell them!! I have been here over three years and you know I have integrity and would never steal.” I was shouting myself hoarse at this stage and several colleagues had clustered near my office to watch the drama unfolding.
I could see shock, surprise and disappointment on their faces. “Don’t handcuff me please. I will come with you willingly” I pleaded with the policemen but that fell on deaf ears as I was handcuffed like a common criminal and matched from my office out of the company premises to the police station.
It was here I learnt that my credentials were used to authorize withdrawals from our domiciliary account and also cheques I purportedly signed were used in transferring funds to several accounts. I did not give that approval neither did I sign those cheques but all my protestations of innocence fell on deaf ears.
I was at the police station for eight months. During this time, Chike did not show up or try to help me in any way. Ikenna, my brother, had to come down from Abuja where he resided to help out but then Zenith constructions was a blue-chip company and he couldn’t prevail against them or prove my innocence.
I missed my freedom, I missed bathing and eating well and worst of all I missed my son. Chinyere had to take him to my mother’s place as rent had expired and Chike had left the house abruptly after selling off our prized belongings including my own car.
One day, after I had lost hope that the nightmare would ever end, the company had asked for me to be released when investigations showed that I was at work using my log in when the unauthorized approvals were given from a yet-to-be traced IP address using same log in. The cheques too were signed during the period I was away at training in Kaduna State.
They believed there were others involved probably hackers but they also considered me culpable. My appointment was terminated and my accounts frozen. The company with a court order was able to sell off the two pieces of land I had bought in choice areas hoping to erect buildings on them someday.
My house was also ransacked and anything of value seen was also auctioned off to offset what I was owing. I had to sign an undertaking to pay back the balance once I got a job. I came out of the police station a broken woman. I had to go back to my mother’s house which luckily the company did not touch probably because it was not in my name but my late father’s.
My world had come crashing about me through no fault of my own. The day Chike served me divorce papers through a court bailiff, I almost slit my wrists but for my son, Ebube,who had not seen me for several months and was so clingy at that point even following me to the rest room.
I didn’t respond to the divorce summons. What was the need? To rip off the band aid on the wound every time we went to court and had to recount our marital lives before a judge who couldn’t care less. Besides, I did not have the money to hire a lawyer. I only got a letter from the court stating that divorce had been granted to Chike as I did not file a response to his suit or appear in court.
I decided to move on with my life and start all over again even with the hell my mother was putting me through. I thought I would never see Chike again until now….