Although the disappearance of a 20-year-old man, Nonso Nwoye, since November 20, has been a nightmare for his family, they have been further devastated by the demand of N200,000 by the Police in Lagos to arrest the suspects.
Mr./Mrs. Geoffrey Nwoye have decried the injustice being meted on them by officials of the Lagos State Criminal Investigation Department, SCID, Panti, Yaba, since the case of their missing son was transferred there from Area B on December 18.
That one Superintendent of Police simply identified as Lawrence (08033576961) and the Investigating Police Officer (IPO) Inspector Obano (08078622948) asked the boy’s parents to provide N200,000 before the police at Panti would commence investigation and arrest of the known suspects, has left the family wondering if they would ever get justice.
Their travails began on November 20, 2013, when Nonso’s mother, Mrs. Bridget Nwoye grudgingly allowed him to follow his boss, one Adeyemi Musa to Calabar to install tiles for a customer, little did she know the family was in for a soured yuletide.
Nonso, an apprentice at Oduade Tiles Market, Coker, Lagos, had come home that fateful day and told his mother his boss, one Adeyemi Musa, said they should travel to Calabar to fix tiles for a customer.
Having not visited Calabar herself and considering the fact that it was late, Mrs. Nwoye said she objected to the trip and asked her son to go inside the house.
“But his boss later called me, pleading with me to allow Nonso travel with them to Calabar, assuring me that nothing evil will happen.”
After much pleadings, she said she reluctantly accepted to allow Nonso travel with them but on the condition that they would not leave for Calabar that night.
“His boss accepted and promised me they will all sleep at his place so that early the following morning, they will leave for Calabar.
“By this time, a car, which was brought by one Abuchi to carry my son was already infront of our house. He took his bag and joined the driver and his conductor to go to his boss’ place and I was called by his boss that they were together,” she narrated.
Trouble started after Mrs. Nwoye could not reach her son on phone. She had tried calling for two days and the boy’s number was switched off.
“We were worried because it was unlike Nonso not to have called that they have left for or gotten to Calabar. Even if he had no network or airtime, he would look for a someone else’ phone to contact us.
“When I could not reach him that day they were supposed to leave (November 21), I called his boss and he said they arrived Calabar safely.
“I told him I want to speak with my son and he said Nonso was downstairs, while he was upstairs. He gave me this response severally such that I became uncomfortable and insisted I must speak with Nonso, then, he switched off his phone.
“From that day, each time I called, he would say he is busy and will call back but he never did. It continued like that until one week passed. Nonso had told me he would be away for two weeks and would return to Lagos by December 4.
“So, my husband and children said we should be patient, since he said they will spend two weeks on the trip. But when the return date was approaching and we have not spoken to our son yet, his boss stopped taking our calls. Even his boss’ brother, Jamiu, who they said also went on the trip was not taking our calls,” she said.
When the proposed arrival date passed and Nonso did not come home, Mrs. Nwoye said she stormed the Oduade Market and reported to the leadership of the market union because his son was a registered member.
“I told them how Musa, Jamiu, Abuchi, a driver called Benjamin and his conductor took my son away since November 20 and we have not seen nor heard from him.
“It was Abuchi who arranged the driver. We knew through Nonso’s friend who was to travel with them but later changed his mind. So, I also told the union that Musa has stopped taking our calls and have not said any reasonable thing since he pleaded with me to allow Nonso travel with them.
“After my complain, the leaders called Musa and within two minutes, he came to their office. At that point, they asked him where Nonso is, and he said armed robbers attacked the vehicle at Shagamu.
“He said that he did not travel with them. That they (Nonso, Benjamin and the conductor) left for Calabar that same night and they were attacked by armed robbers at Shagamu.
“Musa, who I have been calling since November 21, and he would say my son is downstairs told the union people that it was the driver who told him and that the Calabar job was suspended.
“They asked why he did not report to the union or the police and whether the robbery incident in Shagamu or missing person was reported to Ogun police and he said no.
“They also asked him if the armed robbers killed anyone or took anyone away, and Musa said the driver said no. He said they all ran into the bush and all came out after the robbers had left. He said the robbers had no guns, only sticks.
“That after the attack, Nonso said he was going back to Lagos. But those people claiming my son said he was returning to Lagos still have my son’s bag and slippers. So, how did he leave Shagamu for Lagos without his slippers and bag?” She queried.
Continuing, Mrs. Nwoye said, the union advised she took the matter to the police and she went to Pako Police Station, Olodi Apapa and reported.
“Four of them were taken to the station by the union but to my surprise, they were released. Some days later, the matter was transferred to Area B and the four of them were brought back and that was how the Area Commander, after listening to all involved, said the matter should be transferred to Panti.
“On getting to Panti, the matter was handed over to Supol Lawrence and Inspector Obano and since then, nothing has been done because we do not have N200,000 to give them.
“Meanwhile, while the matter was still at Area B, the driver (Benjamin) confessed that Nonso was being held at an uncompleted building in Shagamu. He gave the address of the place and told the police that the building is near the Shagamu Police Station.
“So, with the help of the Area Commander, we got a paper, which we took to Shagamu Police Station and got a search warrant. Policemen from Shagamu led the operation and 10 occupants were arrested.
“They were handed over to Area B and were later released before the matter went to Panti. All other suspects, except Benjamin and Jamiu were released, while Musa and Abuchi absconded after their release from Area B.
“I have gone to Panti on several occasions and each time, Supol Lawrence keeps asking after my husband because of the N200,000. I told him my husband has gone to Warri to look for money and has not come back and he said nothing has been done on the case.
“The last time I went, I told the IPO. That Abuchi (one of the suspects) called me on December 31, and said we should go to that same uncompleted building in Shagamu that we will see my son. He called around 11am and said my son was limping and we shall meet him there.
“So, when I told them at Panti, he said they cannot move like that, that there are documents that needed to be prepared that is why he wants to see my husband. And also that I will need to charter a vehicle a vehicle to the place. Till date, they have not gone.”
“We have made enquiry from Ogun State even around Shagamu and there was no armed robbery attack that night. Not even on November 21, 22 or 23 in Shagamu. The police confirmed our findings.
“I am very disappointed with the way those in Panti have handled this matter. Does it mean those who do not have money cannot get justice in this country? Now, my husband cannot even go to Panti because he does not have N200,000 to give them.
“If the Police had done their job the way it should be done, the culprits would have been arrested and my son returned. With the confessions of those in detention and Abuchi”s call, it is obvious they planned to kidnap my son but I do not know the reason for that.
“If they have killed. My son, they should tell me, if he is alive, police should assist us because I want to see my son,” said Mrs. Nwoye.
Mr. Nwoye also lambasted the police for demanding bribe instead of doing their job.
“It is very disturbing. I have not gone to Panti since that day Supol Lawrence asked me to bring N200,000. When I told him I do not have the money, he asked me how much I can afford.
“Where do they expect us to get that kind of money from? Is it not enough that our son has been missing for almost two months? Why is the police compounding our problems?
“I am just appealing to the President and the Inspector General of Police to look into this matter. This is a clear case of kidnapping, even though no ransom was demanding from us.
“I am a very peaceful man who go about his lawful business. I do not know why this kind of evil. These people have told many lies, from travelling with my son in the night against the mother’s wish, to lying that they got to Calabar safely and were working, before the lie of armed robbery attack.
“Now they have confessed that my son is being held in Shagamu, at a native doctor’s place. They should just release him for us.
“I have written to the President, the IGP and the Police Service Commission with the help of a lawyer, Okechukwu Nwizu, for their intervention.
“I am also using this medium to appeal to them to come to our aid. It is a human being we are talking about here, not an animal,” he said.
All efforts to get official reaction from the Lagos State Police Command failed, as the spokesperson, Ngozi Braide refused to reply to text messages sent to her and declined comment when contacted.
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