By Evelyn Usman
From his facial expression, it was obvious that all was not well with 69-year-old Peter Ikeagwuani, as he walked into the corporate headquarters of Vanguard, Lagos that Monday.
Barely had he sat down than he announced in an emotion-laden tone that his 24-year-old son disappeared under mysterious circumstances from their Orile abode on September 26, 2011,without any trace of him. Ikem, as he is fondly called by his parents, left the house penultimate Monday, clutching his bag, after informing his mother that he was going for lesson coaching.
But apprehension set in later that day when he did not return home at about 8.30pm. Tension, heightened at about 11pm, after a search conducted round the neighborhood proved futile. Entreaties by neighbors on the parents to go to bed, with the assurance of seeing their son next day, fell on deaf ears. However, at the end, they reluctantly went inside but left the door ajar, with the hope that Ikem would walk in. But their hope was not met.
Ikem’s sudden disappearance seriously jolted both parents who have retired from active service, owing to the peculiarity of their son. Vanguard Metro, VM, gathered that Ikem was mentally retarded ,resulting from an ailment that struck him as a child.
Narrating how he walked home that fateful day, the sexagenarian said: “After taking his breakfast, he told his mother he was going to lesson and she asked him to take good care of himself. I later left the house for my shop with my wife joining me later.
At about 3.30pm, one of my daughters brought us lunch and my wife asked if IK had come to eat and my daughter said no. When I got home later that day, I saw my wife standing outside and looking worried. On enquiry, she told me our son had not returned. I was shocked because that was the first time he would go out and not come back early.
“He suffered convulsion when he was three years and was placed under medication for long. They prescribed some drugs which he took between 1991 and 1998. At a point, we noticed he was behaving abnormally and when we took him to LUTH, we were referred to a psychiatric home where we were informed he would out-grow it. The illness eventually stopped as he was growing.
“He could discuss for a while but not engage in long discussion..We sent him to school but when he repeated primary six for five years, we decided to withdraw him and since then he had been going to a private lesson,some buildings away from ours.
“He usually went out himself and came back. He has never slept outside for once or strayed. . He used to go to Block Rosary on Sundays at Our Lady of Lords, at Coker and come back on his own.
“My wife was at Orile Police Division that very day where but was told to come back the next day. Next day, she visited the station again and was referred to the control room in Ikeja.
“Since then, a search party has gone round in search of our son to no avail. Everyday we hope and pray that he will come back and we are still believing God”.
A policeman at Orile division who spoke on condition of anonymity, told VM that most police divisions and area commands had been informed about Ikechukwu’s disappearance.
He therefore, called on members of the public to also be on the look out for Ikechukwu who according to him, speaks English and Yoruba. “We implore whoever sees him to reach his parents on 08051507180 or 08055679133, or any police station around.
However, on Wednesday, news of his discovery somewhere in Abeokuta was received by the parents who rushed to the place where Ikechukwu was found standing and waiting for his parents.
The reunion threw the entire Orile neighbourhood into wild jubilation as well wishers thronged the Ikeagwuani’s abode to hear from the lost but found Ikem how he found his way to Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital. But he just stared at everyone, unable to talk, requesting instead to take a nap.