The Punch

Families groan over incidents missing persons in Lagos despite

- Afeez Hanafi

It took last minute grace to let Tamunobele­ma Dungibbs-dikibo off the hook after she fell victim to a brisk transit robbery colloquial­ly known as ‘one chance’ on the Ikoyi-lekki Link Bridge, Lagos State, recently.

Robbers who pretended as co-passengers made frantic efforts to collect her phone but she escaped through the interventi­on of a motorist.

For the young lady, the escape was a victory to relish. Her elder sister, Cecilia Iniperitia­ri Dikibo, could not hide her joy over the narrow escape; she took to Facebook on Tuesday, July 13, urging friends to join her in “thanksgivi­ng.”

“Jehovahsta­ndby singlehand­edly delivered my kid sister Tamunobele­ma (Dungibbs-dikibo) from ‘One Chance’ at Ikoyi-lekki Link Bridge in Lagos,” she wrote. “These guys literally locked the vehicle, windows and dragged her phone. They asked her to stop praying….”

Dikibo explained that the attackers ran into traffic and attempted to take a detour but a man who suspected foul play blocked their vehicle with his car and knocked on the driver’s window.

“She (Dungibbs-dikibo) kept hitting her side window, that’s how the man came by her window and knocked again, she knocked back. The man stood in front of the car and asked them to come down. That was how they opened the door oo…

“Na (National) Youth Service she go oo…there shall be no loss in my family, none whatsoever...no kidnap, no missing person. Jesus, what would I give to you but my praise? Hey, God of the fatherless...” She recounted elatedly alongside a tearful emoji embedded in the post.

As emotional as Dikibo’s post appears, only those who have undergone trauma of one chance, kidnapping or searching for missing relations would understand its import.

For over six weeks now, Mrs Bukola Oluwadeko, has been anticipati­ng to be soaked in euphoria. Since her husband, a poultry farmer and school proprietor in Ikorodu, Lagos, was kidnapped on June 3 on his farm in the Imota area of the state, sorrow had enveloped the family.

Fifty-year-old Oluwadeko and a teacher in his school, Chioma Oladapo, were kidnapped around 7am that day by gunmen and led into a forest. While Oladapo reportedly managed to escape from the kidnappers’ den, her boss’ whereabout­s remained unknown even after the family had paid N1.5m in ransom.

The abduction was reported at the Imota Police Division and the case was later transferre­d to the tactical squad at the state police command headquarte­rs in Ikeja.

But the victim’s wife, Bukola, in a recent interview with our correspond­ent said the police had yet to rise to the occasion as promised, leaving the family to seek help from local vigilantes who assisted in combing the forest in search of her husband.

Distraught Bukola now struggles to keep the family going and tends to the emotional state of her children.

“Our only hope now is prayers,” Bukola had said, solemnly. “I can’t go to work again because of this incident. I can’t leave the children alone.”

She added, “We reported at the Imota division and policemen followed us to the farm a day after the kidnapping. The vehicle he drove to the farm was found on the premises. The police then referred us to a unit in Ikeja. We wrote statements and an IPO (investigat­ing police officer) at the unit promised to contact us. We have not got any positive result from the police since then. It was some vigilantes who helped us to search through the forest.

“The woman (Oladapo) led them to where she escaped from but they couldn’t find my husband. I learnt the owner of the poultry around my husband’s was also kidnapped about two months ago. The man came from abroad to inspect his farm. The kidnappers collected N15m before he was released. We are worried that he (Oluwadeko) has not been released after N1.5m was paid.”

Recounting her ordeal at the hands of the kidnappers, Oladapo said no sooner had she and her boss entered the poultry house than about 13 young men armed with guns scaled the fence into the premises and held them hostage.

She stated, “We thought they would leave us after collecting our phones and the little money on us. They beat us and ransacked my boss’ vehicle. When they couldn’t find more money, they led us out of the farm. There were no passersby around the vicinity at the time. We trekked a long distance into a forest.

“At night, they brought us out and demanded N100m ransom. We exclaimed and begged them to allow us to call our relations. My boss called one of his friends and his wife. I also called my brother who was abroad.”

Oladapo said she informed her boss of her plan to escape but he warned her against such a move on the grounds that she could be killed if caught, adding that she fled after weighing the risks.

“I am still at home; I can’t resume work yet because of the trauma. My blood pressure is high; I always have migraines. The incident keeps flashing in my memory,” she had told our correspond­ent.

The IPO in charge of the case at the police command headquarte­rs in Ikeja confirmed that the matter was referred to the tactical squad but said there was “no enough informatio­n and logistics to work with” on the case, adding that Bukola had not come back to follow it up.

Unconfirme­d kidnapping cases

Apart from traffic robberies which many Lagosians face on a daily basis, residents claimed that kidnapping­s are being recorded in the state in recent times with some of the victims’ families paying ransoms without involving security agencies.

A businesswo­man, who identified herself simply as Omolara, had tweeted that her sister’s daughter was kidnapped on Lagos Island on Saturday, May 1.

When contacted by our correspond­ent, she said the victim had regained freedom but declined to give further details.

A disk jockey, Paul Raymond, also said his brother-inlaw was kidnapped early April after entering ‘a one-chance bus’ from Ikorodu Garage en route to Adeniji-adele.

Raymond said, “He left home around 5am and was going to Adeniji on Lagos Island. He boarded a bus from Ikorodu Garage. The normal fare was N700 per passenger but the bus driver charged N200. He saw it as an opportunit­y and entered the bus. Along the line, he and other passengers were kidnapped. They beat him up and cleared about N2m from his account. He is a businessma­n. He sells clothes on the Island and runs Uber. He was hospitalis­ed for four weeks.”

Raymond stated that the victim would not want to speak on the incident when our correspond­ent requested an interview with him.

One Olaniyi, @Naiyoopump­ey, raised the alarm in a May 8 tweet that there were incidents of kidnapping in Lagos but families of the victims were handling the cases discreetly.

“Guys, they are really kidnapping people in Lagos o and we are not hearing about it. The families are paying ransoms without a noise,” he wrote.

“True, the classmate of a friend’s younger brother was also kidnapped. I hope they get all the people involved!” Badejo Olaoluwa commented on the tweet.

Missing persons

Alongside kidnapping, cases bothering on missing persons have been recorded in Lagos this year with some of the victims later found dead while the whereabout­s of others are still shrouded in mystery.

A poultry worker, Suliat Nasiru, was one of those who had suffered this horrific fate. She was declared missing after leaving her residence at Lucky Fibre, Ikorodu, on June 23, 2021 and did not return home.

She was later found dead by the roadside the next day with her neck already swollen. The case was reported to the police at the Sagamu Road division.

As the police struggle to uncover the perpetrato­rs of the dastardly act and bring them to justice, the deceased’s family grapples with the grief that greeted her untimely, cruel death.

“She left home around 6.30pm on June 23 after receiving a phone call to come and collect the money the caller owed her. Her corpse was found by the roadside the following day. On close observatio­n, it was noticed that she had a swollen neck, suggesting strangulat­ion. The family had removed the corpse before alerting the police to bury her according to Islamic rites,” a police source told our correspond­ent.

Fawaz Surajudeen and Kudus Oseni – both 14 and Senior Secondary School 1 pupils – had grown up to the delight of their respective parents until January 31.

That day, around 6pm, the two friends were playing within their neighbourh­ood on Igbonla Street, Ketu area of the state when they suddenly disappeare­d.

Their parents had thought they were playing far away from home and would soon return. But as hours rolled by and night crept in, it dawned on them their kids could be

in danger after all.

They searched everywhere – streets, shops and playing grounds – franticall­y to no avail.

“We thought he was playing around and would soon return home. We later learned from his friend that he and Kudus (Oseni) went to a restaurant within the community to buy food.

“The friend said three of them were supposed to go but they excluded him because he went to fetch water and they didn’t wait for him. Since then, we have not seen them,” Fawaz’s mother, Bose Surajudeen, had recalled.

The incident was reported to the police at Ketu and Alapere police stations and their pictures were collected by the police as the families continued the search.

“Some people said they saw them with one Samson at Agboyi (a neighbouri­ng community). We went there but the boy said he didn’t see them. No one has contacted us. We are worried,” Bose lamented.

Few days later, the parents’ apprehensi­on heightened upon the discovery of the clothes the children wore on the day they went missing in an abandoned building within the neighbourh­ood.

Three neighbours identified simply as Fatai, Adam and Kehinde, were arrested in connection with the disappeara­nce of the two victims, but were later released allegedly for want of evidence against them.

Oseni’s aunt, Taiye, had told Sunday PUNCH that police investigat­ion into the matter seemed to have hit a brick wall.

She stated, “Fatai is over 18 years old while Adam and Kehinde are 14. We are all neighbours. They (Adam and Kehinde) told us that Fatai met four of them, including Kudus and Fawaz outside that Sunday playing and he told them to follow him somewhere.

“They said when they got to Agboyi River; he took Kudus and Fawaz across the water and asked them to wait for him. They said they ran away and when he later saw them, he threatened to kill them if they told anybody that he took Fawaz and Kudus somewhere. Fatai said his mum had told him to take the children to a man living across Agboyi River and that she had already discussed it with the man.”

The state Police Public Relations Officer, CSP Muyiwa Adejobi, had disclosed that the police learnt that five persons including the victims went to Agboyi River to swim, noting that two of them drowned and their clothes recovered.

Five months on, the families continue to battle the agony of the children’s disappeara­nce, keeping faith in God to ensure their safe return.

 ??  ?? •Lekki-ikoyi link bridge •Oluwadeko
•Lekki-ikoyi link bridge •Oluwadeko
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