By Evelyn Usman
He paced from one end of the Ikotun market in Lagos, to the other, sweating profusely from the heat of the scourging sun. He looked searchingly at some faces and peered into vacant shops with suspicion. Some ladies ignored him, apparently thinking it was a lecherous gaze.
Thereafter, he walked down to a popular church within the vicinity, where he continued scanning through the crowd of worshippers that were going in and coming out of the church.
At a point, he became angry and scowled at the unsuspecting worshippers, mumbling. With his head bowed in dejection, he trudged through the street, heading back to where he came from.
This has been a daily routine for 34-year-old John Wuni Laar, since December 2019. The man, a Ghanaian, and his younger brother, Shedrack, brought their ailing mother, Mrs Wuni Duwak-Susana, to a popular church in Lagos for healing, without bargaining for the outcome of what later played out.
Their mother reportedly disappeared from the hotel room they lodged, without any trace of her since then. John explained that while inside the church, their mother’s ailment got complicated, resulting in her slumping.
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She was rushed out of the church and taken to the hotel room located directly opposite the church. While John stayed back in the church, he left his mother in his younger brother’s care, in the room.
Mathew, 31, was said to have left the room at about 11.30 pm, to get food for his mother who was sleeping. But by the time he returned with the food, his mother was no longer on the bed. Rather, only her pair of slippers was seen in the room.
He scurried out of the hotel, to inform his brother of their mother’s disappearance. A search was conducted around the hotel room without any sight of her.
Confused, John, said he ran to report the incident to the Hotel Manager, who informed him that he did not check anyone that fitted the description of their mother into the hotel.
He told Crime Guard that he further went to the Ikotun Police division to report the incident. But the Police as gathered, never made any move to visit the hotel or carry out an investigation on what he described as the mysterious disappearance of his mother, until February, after the attention of the Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Elkana Bala, was drawn to the matter.
But at that stage, Crime Guard gathered that it was only announced in the control room, without further investigation.
Determined to find their mother, John, said he kept walking the streets of Ikotun, every day, hoping he would come across her among the crowd in the densely populated area. But his effort has so far yielded no positive result till date.
Ghana Consulate intervenes
With time, the visiting Ghanaians exhausted the cash with them and could no longer pay for the hotel accommodation which was N5,000 per night.
The younger of them had to travel back to Ghana, leaving his brother to continue with the search.
Though Crime Guard gathered that the hotel management gave John some days to stay in one of the rooms for free, while searching for his mum, the gesture did not last long, as he was asked to leave. During the lockdown, he fell sick but could not afford medicine.
He lived from hand-to-mouth and sometimes went to bed hungry, until he located the Ghana Consulate in Ikeja, Lagos, last month, where he was given shelter.
The Consulate in a petition to the Commissioner of Police, Lagos State Police Command, said ”The Mission was reliably informed that the Guest House attendant, the Manager, and owner of the Guest House were giving conflicting statements regarding the missing woman
“In the light of the above development, it would be highly appreciated if your Command and other security agencies could investigate thoroughly to unveil the circumstances leading to the missing of the woman and also help to find her”.
During a visit to O.G guest house where the missing woman and her two children lodged, a man who introduced himself as the hotel manager but refused to disclose his name said that the missing woman was never checked into the room and could not have disappeared from there.
His utterance resulted in a verbal altercation between him and John. However, one of the staff, Benjamin, who claimed to have checked visitors on that fateful day, confirmed that he was the one that checked the missing woman and her sons in, thereby establishing the fact that she lodged in the hotel that night.
Another controversial issue was the position of the woman’s mental state. While some were of the view that she was mentally deranged and could have strayed, her children stated emphatically that she had no mental problem.
Before leaving for Ghana, Mathew alleged that some of the hotel staff told him to tell the Police that their mother had a mental illness. “They said that was the only way they ( Police) would attend to me”.
On his part, John said; “My mother had a spiritual problem. She was not mentally deranged. I don’t know what I would tell my people back home because they were not aware we were bringing her to Nigeria.
“My mother was putting on a red shirt on the day she got missing. She can not express herself in English, she speaks Bumoba and Mapusi dialects.
“When we went to church around to retain seats before Sunday service began, our mother could not stay, she was very weak. I told my younger brother to take her to the hotel that God could still do what he would do, even if she was in the hotel.
Crime Guard however learned that the new Divisional Police Officer at Ikotun , had swung into action with the commencement of investigation.
As first step into the investigation, some staff of the hotel were invited for questioning on the missing woman.
Crime Guard gathered that this is not the first time a visiting Ghanaian to the same church would be missing from a hotel in the area.
Commissioner of Police, Lagos State Police Command, CP Hakeem Odumosu, has assured that investigation would not be swept under the carpet.