CURSORY: An Anambra State trader, Mrs Ngozi Okonkwo, narrates about her struggle for justice for her grandchild who was kidnapped and how his school uniform was dumped at a shrine.
Ngozi Okonkwo, an indigene of Umunnama community in Eziowelle, Idemili North Local Government Area of Anambra State, who is a petty trader and married with kids and a grandchild, has revealed the details of her grandson’s kidnap and the difficult journey so far on trying to get justice for him.
According to her, the incident took place on 19th January, 2019 in the boy’s school.
” Yes. My grandson, Tukwasichukwuobi Okonkwo, has been missing since 2019. He was taken away alongside his classmate, Chinenye, by abductors on January 19, 2019. It was while they were waiting for their teachers and other pupils to come and conduct the morning assembly in the school compound at Uzubi Nursery and Primary School that their captors came and took them away and till date, they have not been found.
“It was my daughter, Amara, who used to drop them off at their school before she would proceed to her own school. She was in secondary school also located along the same road. What happened was on the morning she dropped the children, the teachers had yet to come to school, so the children were left alone in the compound and that was what gave the captors the chance to lure the children away.”
She said the school is open, no security, no fence that was how the kids were kidnapped.
She revealed that on the day of the incident, she had waited for her grandson to come back as usual but he didn’t.
“I waited for him to return from school after school hours on that fateful day as other kids were coming back home, but he did not return. While I was getting ready to go to the school to check up on him at about 3pm, a teacher from the school walked into my house and told me that my attention was needed in the school.
“On getting to the school, the teachers told me that someone brought the school uniforms and bags of the missing kids to the school and told them that he picked the items from a shrine known as ‘Ogwugwu’ in Eziowelle.
“When I searched my grandson’s bag, I found some packets of biscuits inside, even when I did not buy any biscuits for him when he was leaving for school in the morning.”
“The school authorities told me that they did not even know that the two missing kids came to school that day because they (school authorities) had not reached the school before the kids were lured away by the suspects,” She added.
She said that they had gone to the shrine but they did not find the kids nor the person in charge of the shrine, and it was at this point that she ran to report to the police.
“It was at that stage that I rushed to Eziowelle Police Station and lodged a complaint and consequently, the police first arrested the person that brought the uniforms, and in the end, investigations revealed that it was his elder brother, whose name is Onyedika, that transported those children, together with some others at large, in his tricycle. He is a tricycle operator. They lured the innocent children from the school with packets of biscuits.
“The police arrested and detained him, but granted him bail the following day. Not satisfied with the speed with which the police released the suspect, I went to the state Criminal Investigations Department, Awka, and lodged a fresh complaint, which prompted the arrest of the school headmistress and Tukwasichukwuobi’s class teacher and also the school manager who is a Catholic priest. At the state CID, the traditional ruler of Eziowelle sent someone to take the bail of Onyedika, because they are closely related.
“It was my petition to the Inspector-General of Police, and the quick response that reinvigorated the case which prompted the police to arraign Onyedika in 2021 after two years of dilly-dally, otherwise, the case would have died off as planned by the suspect and his cohorts.”
“The matter was charged to court in 2021 and ever since then, it has been from one adjournment to another, while the suspect and his cohorts go about threatening me and my family. They go about boasting that the matter will not see the light of the day, no matter what I do.
“It is a pity that this kidnap matter has gone on adjournment over 15 times. The only day we had a ruling on it was the first day when the plea for the bail of the suspects was heard and the suspects were granted bail. Ever since, it has been from one adjournment to another.
“All I am seeking is for all the relevant authorities, including the judicial council, to intervene in this matter and ensure accelerated hearing to ensure that justice is served for those missing innocent children. My grandson must not be allowed to die in vain; it is possible that they have killed the children for ritual purposes or possibly sold them off, but whatever, I just want justice to prevail in this matter to serve as a deterrent to others who may think that laws don’t work.”
She said the parents of the other kid have given up because of the allerged foul play going on, but she on the other hand will keep fighting until she gets to the bottom of everything.
She said she is optimistic despite the fact that the situation is not encouraging.
In her words:
“A lot of things are being suspected, especially as they said their school uniforms were found in a shrine, but I want to remain positive so long as it has not being stated in that direction. Other thoughts like the possibility of the children being sold also flash through my mind, but it is better that the children were sold and are still alive than being ritually killed or whatever, although, no parents pray for either of these.”
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