Posted by BY GODWIN IJEDIOGOR, ONYEDIKA AGBEDO AND ADESHINA BANKOLE on
FOR the Akinware family, this may not be particularly the best of times. Reason: Since June 2nd when Mrs Josephine Akinware took her two daughters- Adedoyin (four years) and Adeola (two) to school, Adeola has been missing......
FOR the Akinware family, this may not be particularly the best of times. Reason: Since June 2nd when Mrs Josephine Akinware took her two daughters- Adedoyin (four years) and Adeola (two) to school, Adeola has been missing. And things have not been same for the family.
Ironically, Mrs Akinware works, and indeed, has been working in the secondary arm of the nursery/primary school located in Ikotun, a suburb of Lagos, for the past 13 years. She is now a Guidance Counsellor in the school.
Visits to several police stations have not produced their child, yet, she is expected to report for duty in the school every day. She is at a loss, and so is her husband, Akinwunmi. But they pray and remain hopeful that their darling Adeola would be found, three weeks after she was taken away by yet unknown persons.
Already, some staff of the school are being detained at the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID), Panti, Lagos, which has taken over the case.
Crying intermittently, Mrs Akinware told her story: "On Friday, June 2, I took my two daughters, Adedoyin, four years old and Adeola, two years old, to the nursery and primary section of the school before leaving for the secondary section.
"Shortly before I left, just a few minutes past noon, I didn't know what made me to, but I decided to check on her (Adeola) before going to the secondary school about two kilometres away. I saw her in her class and the teachers were somehow angry with me; asking why I came and whether I wanted to make her cry. I told them that I just felt like checking on her.
"When the school closed, I had some other things doing, being the school's guidance counsellor. That kept me until a few minutes to 4p.m when I took permission from the administrator that I wanted to go and pick my children from the nursery/primary section of the school.
"On getting there, I saw the school proprietor's office still open. I went in to greet her. She said something and I responded that it is two children that we (my husband and myself) have decided to have. She asked why and I told her that it is only two children that we want.
"She then beckoned on me to come inside and I did. She started counselling me that I shouldn't stop, asking why I should have only two children at this my age; that we should make sure that we had more. I took it that she was counselling me like a mother. I was just laughing over it as I left her office.
"On getting out to where I was to pick my children, I found only Adedoyin waiting. I asked after her younger sister and she said she had been looking for her and could not find her. I asked what happened. There was one supervisor sitting there and I asked after my baby from her, but she said I should ask my elder daughter. I told her what Adedoyin said, that she could not find her sister.
"She (the supervisor) then said that my second daughter did not come to school. I asked why she should say such a thing; that she should have at least called me to know whether she came to school or not when she saw only her elder sister.
"That was how I started shouting and screaming and that attracted the proprietor of the school. She came out from her office and we all started searching for my daughter. Initially, they said maybe somebody in the school took her to our house. I said no, that there was nobody at home and that I had always told the teacher not to release my baby to any other person apart from my husband and myself. What normally happens is that the elder one, when she finishes, would come downstairs to pick her sister from her own class and they would go into one of the supervisors' office where they would wait for me until I come to pick them.
"But on this eventful day, the two supervisors were not around; they were nowhere to be found. The headmaster confirmed that he saw my baby in one of the supervisors' office playing and trying to remove her sandals and that he cautioned her against it.
"We searched everywhere, running shelter skelter but we couldn't find her. We have gone round, to the police station, town criers, yet we can't find my baby up till now.
"The gate man insisted that my child did not come to the gate after they closed. In fact, the security in the school is tight and there no way my child would pass through the gate without the gate man seeing her. So where is my baby? That is my plight now.
"Since then, there has been no news. They said I should have faith. That Friday, we left the school at some minutes past 12a.m thinking probably somebody took her home and would return her back to the school. I couldn't sleep that Friday/Saturday night. I prayed and cried all through. The following morning, being Saturday, I left home for the school a little after 4 a.m. before the rain started, hoping that maybe they would have returned my baby. But Up till this day (Thursday), we have not heard anything.
"We were asked to report at the Ikotun Police Station and we went in one of the school's vans. My older daughter said she and her younger sister were with the supervisor. The supervisor said she left the school a few minutes past two in the afternoon that day. Meanwhile, my daughter's class teacher said when she was leaving the school, she saw my two daughters with the supervisor under the tree where they were sitting a few minutes past 3 p.m., while the supervisor insisted that she didn't see the girl at all; that she only saw the elder one.
"I believe she is lying because that morning when I came in, she saw me with the children. Even when I went to check on the missing child a little after noon that day, she was there with other teachers and they saw the girl. I don't know the reason why she would now say she didn't see the girl at all that very day.
"I believe somebody took my daughter away from the school because the gate man said since he had known them, they don't come close to the gate. There is no way that a two-year-old girl can get out of the gate without anybody noticing her, including the gateman, when security is very tight in the school. Even if she walked out, people around the school who sell things outside the gate area would have seen her and raised alarm. So I believe that my daughter did not go outside the gate
"I think whatever happened to my daughter happened within the school because the girl did not go out.
"Since then, I have not been myself. I cannot eat or sleep. People have been telling me to take it easy, that I shouldn't hurt myself. But how can I take it easy when my baby is missing? (started crying again).
"The school reported the matter at the Ikotun Police Station. It was later transferred to the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID), Panti last week.
"Initially, they arrested my daughter's class teacher, the two supervisors and the gateman. They were released after their initial arrest by policemen from Ikotun Police Station. At Ikeja, they were arrested but released the following day. They were later taken to Panti and I don't know if they have been released again.
"I want the school to find my baby and bring her back to me. I want the police to find out who took my baby and I want her back. That small, innocent two-year-old girl cannot be allowed to go like that. I want the public to help me beg whoever has taken my baby away to return her to me, for God's sake.
"When the police questioned my older baby, she said she saw one of the school's drivers carry the baby and put her in the school bus. I asked which school bus and she said one white school bus. We asked whether she could remember who it was and she mentioned a name. Two drivers were taken away by the police."
Her husband, Akinwunmi added: "I want the owner and some staff of the school interrogated thoroughly because I believe that not only one person is involved in this matter. Those concerned should be thoroughly investigated and brought to book. I want my child back hale and hearty. The police and public should please assist us."
At the SCID, Panti yesterday, a senior police officer confirmed that some persons had been arrested and are being interrogated but declined to disclose their identities as that could jeopardise police investigations.
"It is a pathetic case and we are giving it the attention it deserves. We have arrested some people but I can't go further than this as it could jeopardise our investigations. When we are through with investigations, we will blow the trumpet," the officer said.
At the nursery and primary arm of the school yesterday, the securityman on duty referred enquiries to the secondary arm, saying the owner had not been there for the day. At the secondary arm, his colleague initially said the proprietress, Mrs Beatrice Buwa, had not been around but later added that she had actually been there and had gone to the nursery/primary section. The school had closed for the day by the time The Guardian returned there.
Contacted on phone, Mrs Buwa confirmed the incident but referred further enquiries to the police. "The case is at Alagbon and everything you need is there. We have an instruction from the police not to talk to the press on the issue. So, if you need information, go to Alagbon. Every detail you need would be provided by the police. Both sides of the case are there."
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