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Anxiety mounts over missing journalist

By Olasunkanmi Akoni

Described by many as easy going, hardworking, godly and amiable,  Alhaji Rasak Aremu Gawat, ace Nigeria Television Authority, NTA, presenter, has been missing for more than one week. To be precise, he was declared missing penultimate Wednesday when the case was reported to the police.

Gawat,  anchorman of an Islamic programme on television, was said to have left home for the office on that fateful Wednesday, but did not return home.  His vehicle was later found abandoned on Apongbon Bridge, Lagos Island.

Consequent upon this, family members, relatives, friends and well wishers have continued to express fear on the possibility of finding Gawat alive, hence the declaration of daily fasting and praying for divine intervention.

The presenter’s wife, Fatimat,  and son, Jubril, have sent passionate pleas to whoever might be in possession of their breadwinner to release him.   Also, repeated calls to his phone line have remained unsuccessful.

The wife, in tears, begged thus: “We ask for forgiveness from whoever he might have offended unknowingly. Anyone that may have seen him should immediately, kindly, contact the nearest police station or better still the family members or any NTA office for appropriate action.”

Last week, Lagos State House of Assembly, led by Rt Hon Adeyemi Ikuforiji, directed the police  to find  Gawat. Meanwhile, the General Manager of Lagos State Traffic Managing Agency, LASTMA, Engr. Babatunde Edu, has explained how the agency recovered the abandoned vehicle of the missing television presenter on Apongbon Bridge.

According to him, a black colour Toyota SUV with number plate RE 77 AAA was discovered on the Eko Bridge inward Apongbon around 11:45pm on Tuesday night by LASTMA officials led by the Zonal Head, Mr Akinpelu Ayuba, while conducting safety checks on the bridge in order to ensure that no impediments were left unattended to on the bridge as a result of abandoned or broken down vehicle. The vehicle was parked very close to the kerb with no visible sign of hit from other motorists except thatthe hazard light of the vehicle was on and the four doors were locked.

He added: “Thinking that the unknown occupant (s) had run out of fuel and had gone to source for same or in dire need of assistance, the dedicated officers, in order to ensure the safety of the occupant (s) and also render assistance if need be, formed a search group to look out for the vehicle occupant(s)”.

Edu said the search went on for over one hour with no trace of the occupant(s). In order to guard against stealing of the vehicle and to ensure that other road users did not run into the vehicle in the darkness of night, the black jeep, according to him, was towed, in the early hours of Wednesday, to bthe themselves Olowu Zone of the agency’s office in Lagos Island.

He continued: “On Wednesday, the base officer of the Zone, Mrs Ganiat Ijaoba, while conducting routine checks on all impounded vehicles, discovered, through the side glass (as the doors were locked), that the passenger seat of the jeep had some religious stuff such as Qurans, Islamic materials, documents and complimentary cards that had Gawat Communications written on them,  A distant relative of Gawat who is also an official of the agency and familiar with the vehicle contacted the family.

“Later, Gawat’s wife, Fatimat, and three other men appeared at the Zone, and later joined by the police led by the Divisional Police Officer of Adeniji Central Police Station, Lagos Island, Lagos, Chief Superintendent of Police, CSP, Monday Agbonnika. On their arrival, a duplicate key was brought out in the presence of LASTMA officials with an attempt to open the jeep, after several unsuccessful attempts. According to Edu, the first son of the victim, Jubril, invited a panel beater who forcefully opened the car doors in the presence of his mother, officials and relatives.

“After the doors were opened, Jibril entered the jeep to source for some documents which were observed to be missing together with his phone. Several unsuccessful calls were made to the victim’s phone.  Subsequently, t he team consisting of Mrs. Gawat, other members of the family, officials of LASTMA and the police later visited the scene where the vehicle was initially towed”.

Worried by the development, Governor Babatunde Fashola has appealed to residents and well meaning Nigerians who have information regarding the whereabouts of Gawat to come forward with it.

Fashola, who made the appeal while speaking to newsman, said that such information will aid  investigation by the police and the state government on the issue.  The governor added: “So, anybody who has any information that may lead us to him, let us know. My number is 08034301122”.


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