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She got a free ride from Dutse, now she’s missing

Okafor could not control his tears when he said: “Every time I recollect the way she said farewell to me and the filial manner with…

Okafor could not control his tears when he said: “Every time I recollect the way she said farewell to me and the filial manner with which she wished me success, I burst into tears.”

It is not only Sergeant Okafor that is in agony. His wife, Ifeoma, said she was having a bout of sleepless nights every time the thoughts of her missing daughter crossed her mind at night. “The thoughts of Ann are indelible in my mind. I will forever be restless, hoping that she would one day reappear,” she sobbed.

Her eyes were puffy and red as she narrated the story to Sunday Trust. “I can’t sleep every time I think of my missing daughter. She was a very obedient child and respects everybody a lot,” she said as she mops tears off her cheeks.

Sergeant Chijioke, a native of Abriba in Abia State, is an army sergeant serving at 73 Battalion, Janguza, Kano. As is the tradition in the military to regularly post or send personnel on training, Chijioke was posted to the newly commissioned Jigawa Barracks for training.

When Ann Okafor, a Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (SSCE) candidate, got an interval, her filial affection nudged her to visit her father who was away in Dutse. After spending some days with him, she decided to return to Kano and continue to write her exams.

Many people believe that the reason many motorist don’t  stop for hitch-hikers was because of the fact that some dubious travellers camouflage as people in dire need of help. But to others, the motorists that voluntarily offer free ride to travellers could as well be dubious. The later assertion was the case when a driver voluntarily stopped and offered a free ride to the military man’s daughter.

As many caring parents are wont to do, Sergeant Okafor ensured that he saw his daughter off at the motor park. While waiting for a Kano-bound vehicle at Fanisau junction in Dutse, a man in Blue Nissan car pulled up and enquired whether the man in uniform was going to Kano. “Officer, you may come in if you are going to Kano,” he offered to give Okafor, who was wearing his uniform, a free ride to Kano.

Okafor was not surprised by the motorist’s courtesy as men in uniform often get free ride from courteous motorists. “No, it’s my daughter that is going to Kano,” the soldier replied. The motorist then offered to take her to Kano, and willingly Sergeant Okafor obliged.

After thanking the motorist, the curious soldier demanded his name and contact address. Without much ado, the motorist gave his name as Aliyu Mohammed, a staff of John Holt and zoomed off. “Even as the car sped off, Ann stuck her head out of the window to say bye-bye. Up till today, that was the last I saw of my daughter,” with emotion-laden tone, Okafor said.

Fifteen minutes after their departure, the army personnel reached home and placed a call to his daughter. She responded, stating that she was okay and the man had been very kind to her.

After about 30 minutes, he called the number again but nobody picked the call. Although his phone gave a caller tone, the call was not answered. He tried again, but there was no response. Again, and again, no response… Okafor, once again, tried the number, but to his even greater chagrin, the phone was switched off. And then the trouble began.

The tension began when, for more than two hours, he and his wife sat trying the number without response. “I and my wife then got tired of trying the number. I called my colleagues in the Janguza barrack to confirm whether she arrived at home. They said no,” he stated.

Mrs Ifeoma also said that she contacted all her friends in order to know her whereabouts, but none of them could tell where Ann was.

The soldier, therefore, tried to enquire from the authorities of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), the police and road transport workers, whether there was any accident involving any blue Nissan saloon car, but he was told there was none. When he realised that his effort to establish her whereabouts from far away Dutse seemed unsuccessful, he took permission from his station to go to Kano and continue the search.

He said his first port of call was at the address of the driver. After getting to the man with that name, he called the police to arrest the man.

Before his arrest, the suspect admitted being the man that gave the young lady a free ride from Dutse to Kano, but denied knowing her whereabouts after they parted ways in Kano. The man claimed that the last he saw of her was when he dropped her, noting that he saw her climbed a commercial motorcycle.

Unknown to the father of the missing girl, the suspect was hurriedly charged to a magistrate court in Kano by the police. The Abia Community Association in Kano said that the suspect was released without even the knowledge of the father.