By Bianca Iboma-Emefu
The trauma of having one’s child abducted for a few minutes is better imagined than experienced, let alone the child being held for over one year.
The reaction of Pastor Henry Okiemute Osah and Mrs. Florence Osah, over their lost-but-found son and the manner in which the case is allegedly being handled by the police might not be out of place.
The victim, four-year-old Joel Eroghene Osah, was kidnapped in 2019 from Emede community, a village in Isoko South Local Government Area of Delta State. Luckily, he was found on September 2, 2020.
Expectedly, the parents jumped for joy upon receiving the news that their son was alive and safe in the hands of the police. But they were unaware that their joy would stalled after 11 months and still counting.
As gathered, the Osahs have been devastated since the incident. The cleric, who hails from Emevor, Isoko North LGA of Delta State, has, therefore, appealed to Nigerians to help him recover his son from the police.
Osah narrated his ordeal and frustrations trying to recover his son. He said Joel was only two years and seven months old when he was abducted on July 19, 2019, in Emede, where they live.
He said that boy was taken to Idemili in Anambra State, where he was kept at Umaukpokpo orphanage. His child was seen among the 12 children that were recovered in Anambra from a certain woman, Nkechi, accused of trafficking in persons.
The cleric explained what they have passed through since the kidnap and discovery of the child’s location, saying that it has been hell on earth.
He recalled the day the kidnap happened: “I left my son and his two elder siblings in the house that morning. They were already awake, but my pregnant wife was still sleeping. Then, she was eight months pregnant.
“I was invited for a prayer meeting that fateful morning. Capitalising on my absence, someone sneaked into my apartment without her knowledge and whisked our child away. By the time she woke up and realized and that her son was not with his siblings, she called to informed me about it. I ran quickly to the house and we started searching the surroundings for our child, but he was nowhere to be found.
“After we could not find him, I reported the case to the community leaders in Emede and later went to the police station at Oleh to make a report.
“While the case was under investigation, after a year and three months, my wife’s aunt who lived in Lagos called me on September 2, 2020, that she just watched a report on television where 12 kidnapped children have been recovered in Anambra.
“She snapped the children displayed on air and forwarded the picture to us. We were able to identify our son among the children. Immediately, we travelled to Anambra.
“On arriving the place, called 33 Stations, we saw other parents who came to also verify if their children were among those shown on air.
“At the station, the DPO, Power Sule, called my wife and I, and we were the first people he attended to. They took pictures of us and asked us to wait. We waited at the police station till about 11pm before we were informed that the children would not be brought that night, that we should wait till the second morning.
“The next day, when my child was brought along others, he almost jumped out of the vehicle trying get to us but was stopped by the police as the door was quickly jammed.
“CSP Sule informed me later that they were taking the children to Gombe, that the case was cracked by the police in Gombe State. I was advised to go back and get police extract at the station where I reported the incident, we went back to get the extract and other necessary documents as evidence to show the police in Gombe.
“He showed the picture of my son to me from his android phone and told me to go back to Delta, which we did.
“In Gombe, the state Commissioner of Police held a press briefing, my wife and I were there.
“To our surprise, a certain man from Bauchi claimed that my son was his and he wanted to take him away, but my son began to scream and cried in protest. The police bundled him into their van and zoomed away.
“The O.C., legal, said I have to do a DNA test that I should pay N150,000 and police later collected N45,000 from me. I have the receipt and bank transaction. I was told to come after 45 days for the result.
“Later, it was discovered that the man claiming my child bought him from Nkechi, the woman who kept them at the orphanage home in Anambra. After interrogation, Nkechi revealed that none of the children came from the North. So, the children were transferred back to Akwa, Anambra State,” he said.
Osah lamented that the police have spent over six months running a DNA test.
“Nkechi has brought another couple claiming my child is from the East.
The last time I saw my son is in Akwa, at an orphanage home, Jesus Care, he had some bruises on his body, my son is too small to be in this state,” he complained.
On her part, Mrs. Osah expressed sadness over the incident, stating that it was impossible for her to forget the labour on her child.
She called on the Ministry of Women Affairs in Delta and Anambra to come to her aid.
“How can a child that I carried for nine months and lived with me for two years and seven months not recognize me and have a connection?
“All I want is my child who was kidnapped in Emede. How do I live with this pain? We have spent so much and still spending, yet the police have refused to give us our son,” the distraught mother said.
When Daily Sun contacted the police public relations officer in Anambra State, Tochukwu Ikenga, he said he was not aware of the matter, adding that he would investigate and get back to the reporter.
Several attempts, thereafter, to get information from the police proved abortive.