- My 34-year-old daughter mysteriously disappeared, and the police are shielding suspect
- We’ve charged case to court – Police
From JOE EFFIONG, Uyo
WHEN an old man cries, his tears are hardly seen, as they flow inwards, so goes the saying. That appears to be the condition of agony of Chief Eno Udo Unanaowo, whose daughter, Miss Eunice Eno Umanaowo, has been missing since February 4.
The sudden disappearance of 34-year-old Eunice, a mother of one, has thrown her family in Eket and her neighbours in Uyo into serious confusion. And the alleged shoddy job done on the investigation into the grievous incident by the Akwa Ibom State Police Command has further subjected the distraught family to aggravated anguish.
The father of the missing lady, Chief Unanaowo, told Daily Sun that, his daughter, a former contract employee with ExxonMobil, disappeared after going out on a business deal allegedly with one Chigozie Chidiebelu Chinwefuba. The old man said the two went out to sell one of her vehicles, which she had put out for sale at a car stand.
Chief Unanaowo told Daily Sun: “Since Eunice left Mobil, she has been in private venture as a transporter. Early this year, she decided to sell some of the vehicles she used for the transport business. On February 2, 2016, one Chigozie Chidiebelu Chinwefuba arranged to introduce a prospective buyer to her, and took her to Akwa Ibom Transport Corporation (AKTC), Uyo, where he claimed to have invited the prospective buyers. He said the mechanic or engineer of the AKTC was aware.
“She, in company with Chigozie, met with the said prospective buyer, but the sale was not perfected, as the buyer did not agree to Eunice’s price. Eunice returned with Chigozie to her residence, in her personal car. On February 4, Eunice went out again at the prompting of Chigozie to AKTC, with a view to selling the vehicle popularly known as Hummer Bus at the price that the buyer offered.
“Later that evening, Chigozie brought back Eunice’s car and parked it at her residence in Uyo. He said nothing about the whereabouts of Eunice. The following day, he came back to Eunice residence, posed as a naval officer, searched the place and stole money and valuables, which belonged to Eunice and calling her a criminal, who was indebted to him. The neighbours became suspicious and raised the alarm.”
Chief Unanaowo said Chigozie was eventually arrested and taken to the Divisional Police Headquarters at Itam Junction, Uyo. But he said the police soon began to show a lack of interest in the matter by allowing the suspect remain at the counter and putting a chain on only one of his hands.
The old man said it was the lackadaisical attitude of the police that encouraged Chigozie to escape from the police station. He said the suspect ran for about four kilometres while police became helpless. Unanaowo said but for the members of the public, who helped to apprehend the suspect, he could have escaped.
He said he was told that when Chigozie ransacked Eunice’s residence and carted away her valuables on or before February 3, 2016, he deposited them at one hotel (name withheld) in Ikot Ekpene. It was the same hotel where he and Eunice were sighted a day earlier.
“These facts are well known to the police but nothing substantial has been established about the whereabouts of my daughter.
“The police may be doing their utmost, but I have not seen the result. The whereabouts of my daughter has defied all understanding and explanation. I implore the security agencies and the government to unravel this mystery and rescue my daughter.”
The old man raised an interesting angle to the drama. He said Chigozie, after his failed attempt to escape from the Itam Police Division, was transferred to the state police headquarters, Ikot Akpanabia, and was sometime in March brought to the Chief Magistrate Court, Uyo, for the process of remanding him in prison custody.
“But strangely, while at the court, the IPO received instructions, directing that he be brought back to the police station. He has neither been prosecuted nor has he helped the police to locate my daughter. This is my plight.
“I have written several petitions to the police. The personal details of the suspect are hardly known. He has given the police false addresses but the police cannot use his father, who is a policeman, to locate his house and search same.”
Asked whether Chigozie and Eunice might have been lovers, the old man responded: “How can I know? I’m living here in Eket. I wouldn’t know such things.”
Chief Unanaowo, who was in company with his eldest son, Nnanna, said if the police had been serious, they could have since applied to the network providers to obtain call log of communication between Chigozie and his daughter, and between Chigozie and his accomplices, who might have had a hand in Eunice’s disappearance.
Daily Sun learned that following Chief Unanaowo’s petition to the Assistant Inspector General (AIG), Zone 6, Calabar, on the matter, the case might have been taken over by the zone. Chigozie has been transfered to A Division, Wellington Bassey Way, Uyo.
It’s not only the Unanaowos that are bothered about the mysterious disappearance of their daughter. The entire Eket Local Government Area, from the youth to the traditional institutions, seems to be looking out for what would come out of it.
The paramount ruler of the area, HRM, Obong E.C.D. Abia, described the entire incident as a very unfortunate and sad one.
The monarch spoke further: “It looks like the authorities have been helpless since February. Even though the man at the centre of the incident is in custody with the authorities, nothing seems to develop. I don’t know why. But in a situation like this, there is the tendency for people to think that those in authority have been compromised. Because one would have expected that the man at the centre of this incident should be charged to court in the first instance so that there is a record. There has to be a plea taken since there is no certainty whether the young woman has been murdered or not. There is no doubt that she has been kidnapped. Somebody must account for her safety.
“So, the government should rise up to its responsibilities. In some countries like America, the government cannot spare any effort in ensuring that the rights of their citizens are preserved and protected. That is why people are so passionate to be American citizens. If one American was missing, the government would do everything possible to fish him out or find out what had happened to him,” the monarch said.
He stressed that since the police knew who went to the woman’s house by the time she disappeared, it should be a straightforward case. “His plea should be taken. He should be charged so that the police would be seen to be open-minded in this matter. If people know that they can kill or kidnap and get away with it, evil will continue.”
The state police command, however, said the case was no longer in their control since it has been charged to court.
The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Miss Codelia Nwawe, an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), told Daily Sun that the police had handed the matter to the state and that the Director of Public Prosecution tendered his advice for the matter to be charged to court.
“I’m actually looking for the court number so that I will be able to send it across. It has nothing to do with the police any longer. Investigation was done and the DPP has sent the case to court. Once the matter is in court, the police cannot comment on it any longer. It had to do with a young man, a fair young man, who had a girlfriend. Investigation was done. It was carried out very intensively. The DPP was actually informed and they took over. That’s it,” Nwawe said.
But the family, through their lawyer, Chief Umoetuk Umoetuk, said the case had not been charged to court, and that the suspects was only rushed back to the magistrate court on Thursday, April 21, for the remand proceedings, which the police had earlier thwarted. Umoetuk said the magistrate had no jurisdiction to handle such matters, except to facilitate the remand of the suspect in prison, pending advice of the DPP.
He said the suspect could have been rushed to court because of the fact that the zonal police headquarters, Calabar, had stepped in.
Will Eunice ever be found? The Unanaowo family desperately seeks an answer to the question.