The Case of the Missing Money
Three very good friends Johnson, Davidson, Peterson were also living in the same hostel room.
One bright Thursday morning, Davidson watched as Johnson put his money, which was part of his school fees, in his travelling bag.
They both locked the room behind them and left for lectures.
At some point in the lecture, Davidson excused himself and left the lecture room only to return some moments later.
Later in the day, Johnson and Davidson later returned to their hostel room.
They met Peterson sleeping soundly.
After taking their bath, it was time to relax.
Then Johnson remembered he still hasn’t made the deposit, which means he will still have to go to the bank.
So he reached for his money.
But it was no longer there.
Confused, he frantically searched for the money everywhere in the bag.
He quickly raised an alarm.
Soon loud voices are heard as the roommates start trading accusations and counter accusations.
It was almost getting to a fight.
People had started to gather.
As the hall governor of the hostel, I stepped in to see if I could solve the problem.
I first of all tried to calm everybody down.
I then asked each person to explain their position.
Johnson and Davidson said they thought whatever happened to the money happened under Peterson’s watch because they made sure the door was locked when they were leaving in the morning.
Peterson said when he came back the door was actually locked but he did not know anything about the missing money.
All fingers were pointing at Peterson as the culprit.
He was so adamant maintaining his innocence.
I asked him if there was any sign of forceful entry when he came back.
He said he didn’t notice if there was any.
I asked him to think about it and be very sure.
"Ummm... no, no, there was no sign of forceful entry," he finally submitted.
He was absolutely sure of that now!
But who could have taken the money?
Then I asked Johnson if anyone else knew about the money.
He said besides Davidson, no one else knew.
I asked them if they have searched everywhere for the money.
They affirmed they have.
I asked them if something like this has ever happened before.
I knew I had to tread carefully to avoid accusing anyone falsely.
I asked Johnson if at any point in time he could vouch that Davidson never left his side earlier that day.
Then Johnson remembered that Davidson excused himself and was absent for about ten minutes... or so!
Could that little moment be enough for Davidson to have taken the money after all he saw where Johnson had put it?
Davidson, on seeing where this new line of thought is heading, quickly launched into defending himself.
He claimed he only left to ease himself.
Well, that sounded quite plausible but then...
How long does it take for one to relieve himself?
Isn’t ten minutes or thereabout too long for urinating and also, too short for making a quick dash back to the hostel to hide the money, assuming...?
Or could he have been working with an accomplice?
Davidson vehemently denied such a possibility.
Something has to be done now.
And done, very fast...
What I did...
I assessed the problem.
The most important thing now is that the money was nowhere to be found.
I asked Johnson how much was missing.
He said it was fifty-five thousand Naira.
I told the three of them to follow me to my room.
There, I gave Johnson a sum of fifty-five thousand Naira from my own money and told him to go and pay his school fees.
I also told them to go back to their room to continue searching for the missing money with a promise that I will surely get to the root of the whole matter.
When they left, I started considering all possibilities.
Who could have possibly taken the money?
Who was telling lies amongst all of them?
Or could it even be that Johnson actually planned the whole thing from the beginning to make himself look like a victim?
The final resolution...
My highest concern was the torn relationship between the roommates.
I knew I had to find a way to stop the deep distrust that was already breeding and tearing them apart.
I knew what I had to do to salvage the whole situation.
So, one week later, I summoned the three and broke the news to them.
I told them we were all going for a polygraph test.
I told them that the purpose of the polygraph test is to clear all doubts by letting us identify who really took the money.
But before that, I told them by the way of threat, that I was giving them the last chance to confess if there was any underhand at play because I was ready to fully exercise the powers bestowed upon me as the hall governor by handing the guilty person or persons over to the school authorities to be dealt with thoroughly.
Surprisingly, none of them objected.
They all reaffirmed that they had no idea what could have happened to the money.
And so, off we went to get the polygraph test done.
When the results came out, it showed that:
Johnson did not plan for the money to get lost.
Davidson actually went to ease himself but what he didn’t tell any of us initially was that he was actually keeping a date with diarrhea which explains why it took him that long.
And as for Peterson, the test showed he was indeed so tired after coming back from his long journey like he had earlier claimed which explains why he went straight to sleep immediately he came back.
It was now so obvious to all of us. We have now established one fact: whatever happened to the money must have happened while he slept.
But that never solved the puzzle because according to Peterson, he was absolutely sure he locked himself inside before going to sleep.
Well, I was happy how the whole matter was now resolved... in a way.
At least, their friendship and trust for each other was restored.
But that didn’t completely answer the two burning questions that I keep turning over in my mind.
First, who really took the money?
And then, secondly and most importantly...
Who will give me back my fifty-five thousand Naira?