TEARS, SORROW OF FAMILIES OF MISSING PERSONS
Many persons were declared missing in the year. As the world closes the chapter on 2013, there is no word on their whereabouts, leaving their families in tears and sorrow, writes IHEMELU AZUBIKE There was in the prime of her life. Ayobami Jaiyeola, 29, a National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) member with the Lagos State government, like many of her age, had dreams and was looking forward to actualising them until her family started looking for her early this month.
The University of Maryland, United States graduate is yet to return home. Family sources said she returned to the country after graduation in January for her youth service. Her family is gradually losing hope of finding her. Though it was gathered that Ayobami was kidnapped and that her abductors demanded a N10million ransom, nothing has been heard from her or those who she is in their custody. She was last seen leaving her elder sister's house at Dideolu Estate, Lekki, Lagos Island. Ayobami left her two phones and handbag behind in the house at the time of her disappearance.
Ayobami is not alone on the list of persons who disappeared in 2013.
In the afternoon of November 29, an 18-year-old dumb identified as Somto Orji was reported missing by his family. He was last seen leaving his home at 14, Akin Osiyemi Street, off Allen Avenue, Lagos mainland.
His mother, Ify Orji, said:”My son was not born dumb, but he suddenly lost his ability to speak at the age of seven after convulsing. Due to his hyperactivity, he was not able to stay in school and cannot write and doesn't understand sign language but he can hear.
“My first child died of kidney disease during her first year at the University of Lagos. I cannot lose another child. I am calling on everyone to please help me. My son cannot express himself.”
The distraught mother recalled the day he disappeared. She said: “I was not home the day my son disappeared. I had gone to the hospital for an X-ray following a car accident I had recently when my daughter called to inform me that my son had run off. I learnt that it was when the house boy opened the door for my daughter to come in that my son ran out of the house. We just moved to this area and he does not know his way around.
“The house boy said he chased him to some extent but let him go thinking that he would come back soon. However, when I came back, my husband and other people started searching for him at 3.30pm. We reported the matter at the Ikeja Police Division but we were told to come back after 24 hours.
“We searched the whole of Opebi, Allen, Alausa and Ikeja until 4.30am the following day, which was the monthly environmental sanitation day.
Even during the sanitation, police gave us permission and we searched for him but to no avail.
“We went to Lagos State University Teaching Hospital as well as the mortuary to search if my son was there but we did not see him. We went to the Ministry of Youth and Culture and NAPTIP (National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons and other related matters) but my son was not in any of these places.”
Also reported missing is a 14-year-old pupil of Command Children Primary School, Ikeja Military Cantonment, Lagos mainland, Miss Augustina Ilevbare. Ilevbare was last seen on Monday, August 5. She was living with her father, Peter Ilevbare, a lance corporal with the Nigerian Army, 9 Brigade Garrison, Ikeja Cantonment and her stepmother, at CBQ 75, Room 14 of the barracks before her disappearance. Her father said she had been living with him since 1999. He added that the girl left home without telling anyone where she was going. He said Augustina's mother abandoned her when she was three months old.
He said: “The Sunday preceding her disappearance, we (the family including Augustina), went to an eatery. That is why her disappearance is giving me cause for concern. I enquired from my wife whether they had a disagreement, she answered to the contrary.”
The soldier said they had searched every nook and cranny for her but to no avail.
He added: “Since that time, nobody has heard any information about her. She does not have phone for us to call. I searched for her mother's place, but she said she did not see our daughter.
“Why I am also disturbed is that nobody has called us for ransom to suspect that she must have been kidnapped.”
Ayomide Omope, who suffers from autism, was also reported missing in January. The 19-year-old boy was last seen on Thursday, January 31.
Before his disappearance, Ayomide was living with his parents in Ikorodu, on the outskirts of Lagos.
His father, Ayotunde Omope, said Ayomide was supposed to be with his mates at a therapy centre the day he disappeared.
He said before his therapist arrived to take him to the centre, he unlocked the gate of the house and left the house.
Omope said: “A neighbour who saw him outside our compound thought he was doing his usual therapy and did not ask him why he was outside the house. About 10 minutes later, his teacher came and noticed Ayomide was not at home. The teacher informed us and that was how we knew something was amiss.
“We pasted posters to notify the public of the incident. Through the posters, someone came to tell us that they saw him in Ogijo area of Ikorodu, some kilometers away from where we live. Since that time, all efforts made to find him have proved abortive. We have also reported the matter at Owutu Police Command, Ikorodu.”
Also reported missing within the year are: Halimat Jimoh (15), Olanrewaju Olarotimi Alabi (30), Rasidi Olayiwola (38), Lara Tonye (13), Daduno Saidat (19), Nelson Osagie (26), Chinedu Okoro (19), Chukwunoso Matthew Nzekwe (30) and Gbadamosi Christana Olusola (43).
The list also included: Chinedu Okoro (19), Chijoke Egbe (19), Eric Afuberon (19) Ididi Olanike (12), Obonogwu Solomon Ogidi (15), James Hundu (45), Moses Thacher (18), Chiwendu Emaefule (13), Oscar Kanayo (17), Selimo Oyebanji (16), Eucharia Otaiku (77), Bassey Okon (13), Ebere Onwuanibe (18), Rukayat Shonibare (14), Austin Oborote (40), Bello Saka (70), Ibukun Joy (13), Tunde Stephen (13), Ogunode Thomas (70), Tochukwu Agana (14), Olawale Bamidele (16), Daniel Amos (12), Oyinkansola Towolawi (10) and Olaolowa Adegbaye (23).
Others are: Joy James (18), Mary Oji (20), Blessing Okpan (13), Obinna Umelo (17), Obasi Justine (17), Nneoma Mary-Ann Arungwa (13), Chigozie Okechi (18), Morenike Lumowo (35), Ekene Umikwu, Taiwo Sosiq (24), Ayodele Olajiga (41), Oriyomi Yusuf, (20), Priscilla Onyiyechukwu Madu (20), Matthew Igbodo (30), Joy Udoh (15), Afeez Akinleye (18), Jide Obakpolo (26), Suporo Okafor (13), Olamide Ayoola Solomon (16), Adeola Ogunkomaya (45), Josephine (15), Nse Obong (65), Shoaga Hammed (21), Adeola Ogunkomaya (45), Uche Nnadika (15), Precious Bisong, Ejike Oguanya Nzekwe (30), Nzochukwu Ibegbu (13), Amechi Ezenaka (17), Amaka Ogoke (12), Victoria Umoh (38), Ogechi Ede (15) and Joy Ijeoma Emmanuel (13).
Force Public Relations Officer, Mr. Frank Mba, a Chief Superintendent (CSP), said: “Your knowledge of the missing person is very important in helping the police strategy to find the person. Do they have health issues? Do they have any emotional or psychological problems? What is their usual daily schedule? Who are their friends and associates? What line of business are they in? Are they in a high risk profession or doing business with shady characters? Did they have suicidal tendencies the last time they were seen? Do they have a history of drugs? Do they have a history of disappearing without informing anyone? We can add to this and say that in the event that something goes wrong, we should keep someone (family member or co-worker) informed of our associates and whereabouts. This should be easy to do unless you are involved in shady dealings.
“There are many things that are the norm in most parts of the world that do not happen here, but we do get by with the tools that are available to us. For instance, you may not see the faces of missing persons on milk cartons in Nigeria, but you may receive a BlackBerry broadcast about a missing person. The media also assists in publicising missing person cases. And although our police may not be as sophisticated and equipped as police departments in many parts of the world, they do have procedures for investigating missing persons and do so with their limited resources. The truth of the matter is that here in Nigeria or elsewhere, how much publicity a missing person case gets depends on the person missing, the circumstances surrounding the disappearance, and efforts of the family and friends of the missing.”
Virtually every day, police stations nationwide are inundated with reports of missing persons.
Available records show that less than 10 percent of such persons ever return home. A scary 90 percent of them are never found and the bodies of a few are eventually seen, dumped either on the roadsides, bush paths or inside gutters, mutilated and their vital organs removed.
Obinna Akukwe, a financial/IT consultant, said: “People apprehend fellow human beings, kill them and use certain parts for human sacrifices. There is a superstitious belief among these vampires that certain human parts like eyes, breasts and private parts, serve some human advancement purposes. They believe that the use of human beings for rituals confers some political, economic and security advantages.
“Recently, I met a man looking obviously disturbed and upon inquiry I was told that the man was taken by a friend to a juju man in one of the outskirts of Abuja in search of political turn around. The herbalist requested the head of a full grown adult. This man thought the juju man was kidding until he was promised, for a fee of N500, 000, to be taken to a place outside Abuja where he could make a selection from the array of captives.
“The obviously shocked banker-turned-politician had to run to a church to get delivered from both shock and evil contamination. This obviously misled and repented Nigerian had the conscience to reject the exchange of human life for political favour.
“The ritual business in Nigeria is a thriving business. A human head with all the condiments is sold for between N200, 000 to N500, 000 ($1,200-$2,000). In certain cases, the captives are paraded before the beneficiaries for selection, while at times the beneficiaries send couriers to do the selection on their behalf, after which the person is slaughtered.”
It was gathered that these ritualists often snatch their victims from public transport. Unsuspecting victims enter taxis or buses and they get charmed in some instances and taken to unknown destinations.
Sources said by the time they regain consciousness, they find themselves in thick forests, mountainous places, remote places or solitary buildings. Most these people are among the reported cases of missing persons.
Adeyemi Ademowo and Babatunde Elegbede of the Humanist Association for Peace and Social Tolerance Advancement (HAPSTA), in a statement, said ritual killings and brutal mass murder of citizens are on the increase in Nigeria.
The group said: “We, in the (HAPSTA), as humanists, are concerned and worried that the government is doing enough or taking seriously these wanton killings. Indeed, it won't be wrong to say that nothing serious is being done to put the killings under check or salvage the worrisome situation. It is our sincere opinion that the ritual killings are the result of the belief in and efficacy of spiritual forces, which make people to seek to explain the world in supernatural terms and wanting to look outside nature for help and salvation.
“A survey of the incidences of the killings leaves one puzzled as to the rationale for the need for such belief and practice, considering that it is crude man inhumanity to man and gross violation of victims'
right to life. For instance, on February 6, the Oyo State Police arrested one Gbenga Taiwo who conspired with his friends, Ganiyu Lukman and Kareem Afeez, to kill one Kalifat, his lover and a businesswoman for money ritual. She was lured, drugged and murdered in her sleep. Her body was then cut into pieces and set ablaze in a ritual rite. “In another occurrence, some suspected ritualists in Eruemukowharien community of Delta State murdered a popular monarch in the area. The ritualists removed his genitals and intestine and deposited his body by a river bank. Also in Asaba, a female junior high school student was murdered with her pubic hair shaved off and her ears removed by the ritualists. Another reported case of ritual killing is the one involving two brothers, Omotola Ajayi and Toyin Ajayi, both residents of Festac Town, Lagos. The brothers were arrested and under investigation when incriminating exhibits were found in their residence. Exhibits found include the decapitated body of a male victim, bowls containing blood and sacs containing human parts, one dry human skull and one fresh human skull. The decapitated body was found floating in the bath closet with the head severed, hands cut off and the feet severed from the knees. The brothers are suspected to be serial ritual killers.
“On April 13, 2012, a lifeless body of a woman was found along Katampe-Kubwa expressway in Abuja at about 7.30 in the morning. The body was headless, while some delicate body parts were severed from her body. In another scenario in Akure, the Ondo State capital, 25-year-old Samuel Olatunji was paraded by police authorities in January for killing Adeoye Dovo, a hunchback senior high school student for ritual. A similar case is the killing of a 20-year old man Jacob Afolabi, who was allegedly beheaded by his close friend, Tobi Ojo in Osun State. Ojo also severed the private part of the victim.
“One of the high profile cases of a ritual killing for political gains was prosecuted in January 2010 in Jigawa State. A High Court in the state sentenced to life imprisonment the former Information Commissioner in the state, Alhaji Abba Umar Kukuma for an alleged involvement in the killing of two children for ritual. (Currently the judgment is under cross examination at the Appeal Court).”
As days turn into months with no words from the missing, their relatives feel the pains of their disappearance more. For them, as each day passes, the hope that they will return and reunite with them again fades. The question on the lips of their family members is, will they ever be found?
MY PRAYER IS THAT MERCIFUL GOD WILL SAVE YOU AND YOUR FAMILY IN THIS NEW YEAR, Amen.
My pray that God will expose the secret behind all these missing people in Nigeria.
HAPPY NEW YEAR !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!