TONY JOHN, Port Harcourt
Almost two months after their two-and-half-year-old son, God’s Favour Chima, was abducted, Mr. Emmanuel Chima and his wife, Goodluck, are understandably still in shock. The heart-rending incident has left the family devastated with the toddler’s older siblings frequently shedding tears and their parents wailing over what has befallen them.
God’s Favour Chima is the fifth child of his parents, who hail from Ndele community in Emohua Local Government Area but the family resides in Rumuokwachi community, in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area.
The incident occurred on February 22, between 7:00p.m and 8:00p.m, opposite the Triumphant Salvation Life Church, in the community.
As Sunday Sun gathered, the suspect, who was identified as Idowu Samuel, from Ijebu-Igbo, Ogun State, came around pretending to buy fried yam from the victim’s mother. It was further learnt that the suspect, who is believed to be a serial child kidnapper, had been operating within the neighbourhood with some other persons who have gone underground.
Narrating what happened, Mrs. Goodluck Chima told Sunday Sun: “That night, I was frying yam. Some people were also around to buy something. The man (referring to the suspect) came and requested for meat and other items. I told him that I don’t sell the things he wanted. While he was trying to distract my attention, I noticed too that there was another young man, who was also telling me that I should give him yam worth N300.
“I feel they took advantage of how people gathered to do their evil. My son was near the place where I was frying and selling yam. While I was still attending to other buyers, the suspect said something about N50.00, which I did not quite understand. Immediately they succeeded in kidnapping my son the car parked in front of the place zoomed off and the suspect also escaped.”
The couple said the matter was immediately reported to the Ozuoba Police Station. But, the officers on duty that night told them to come back after 24 hours, so that the matter could be officially documented.
Like the proverbial saying that every day is for the thief, but one day is for the owner of the house, it happened that a week after, the suspect came back to the community for another operation. This time around, in the day time. He almost succeeded in abducting a four-year-old girl. But, God intervened and his luck ran out. The youths of Rumuokwachi arrested him and were about to lynch him when some elders intervened.
The chairman of the Community Development Committee (CDC), Anya Amadi, told Sunday Sun that the elders made sure the youths did not take laws into their hands. The suspect was subsequently handed over to the Ozuoba Police Division.
In the second incident, it was a stroke of luck that Madam Fortune Okon saw the suspect, who had already carried four-year-old Patricia and was walking across the road, heading towards the forest.
Looking back on what happened, Okon has declared herself as the happiest person on earth today because her life would have practically ended if the suspect had succeeded in abducting Patricia. Expressing gratitude to God for the rescue of the girl, the young lady, who runs a restaurant, said that only God knows what would have been her fate in detention.
“I don’t have a husband. Who would have believed my story that I did not know anything about the incident, if the small child had got missing? Who in this world would believe that I was innocent?
“I don’t know how to thank this wonderful God. The little girl sat outside in the morning and her mother asked me to look after her. I was busy inside my restaurant. Suddenly, my instinct told me to go outside. As l looked, I did not see the girl again. Surprisingly, I saw the man (suspect) carrying her and was heading towards the bush. I raised the alarm and he abandoned the girl. That was how my God rescued her and saved me from something I would not have known how to explain and proclaim my innocence,” the bewildered lady said.
Sunday Sun learnt that the arrest of the suspect drew the attention of residents within the vicinity. Parents of the missing two-and-half-year-old boy were able to recognize him as the man, who had pretended to purchase some edibles from mother of the boy.
According to one of the natives, who simply gave his name as Uchendu, Samuel denied he had ever been to the community before. He swore that he was a mere stranger in the place. But, when the police pressed further, the suspect admitted that he lodged at one of the hotels in the neighbourhood. When his room was searched, the operatives found baby items, which included pampers, caps, birth certificates and charms. He claimed that his handset was kept in another place.
It was learnt that the matter had been transferred to the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department (SCIID). But, the distraught parents of the missing boy are worried that since the matter was reported and till now, the police have not given them further information about the investigation.
Meanwhile the leadership of Rumuokwachi community, speaking through Amadi said that people are waiting for the Police to conclude their investigation and give them feedback on the outcome of the matter.
Amadi also appealed to the state government and police to curb the activities of kidnappers and cultists in Rumuokwachi community and its environs.