Two years ago, sympathizers thronged the densely populated Amukoko, Lagos abode of Mrs Cordelia Nnozirim, to console her over the death of her husband. As she sat at a corner in the one-room apartment located on Fijabi street, the distraught widow merely gave a blank stare at everyone around, as she apparently thought of how she would single-handedly take care of her six children.
Last week, an unprecedented crowd again besieged the home of the widow. They came to sympathize with her over the mysterious disappearance of her 20 year-old daughter, Chizoba Nnozirim, after her boss sent her to lodge N500,000 into the company account.
Chizoba, as gathered, left for CLEMENS Investment Limited on the Island, on July 18, 2012, where she works as a sales girl. Later that day, her boss, one Mrs Veronica Ogbuchi, reportedly gave her the sum of N500,000 to deposit in the bank, only to wait endlessly without seeing her.
Chizoba’s unsuspecting mother who was busy selling roasted corn to customers at an open space around Coker, was shocked when some policemen from Orile division, accompanied by a man later discovered to be Mr Ogbuchi,(Chizoba’s boss’s husband) paid her an unannounced visit by informing that she was under arrest.
On further inquiry, the policemen, according to the widow, “took me to Orile division where I was asked to give a statement on my daughter’s whereabouts. I was shocked because I did not know what they were saying. It was even at the station that I was informed that my daughter did not return after she was given money to pay into the bank. I was detained that night even when I insisted I did not know where she was. I begged them to help me look for my daughter because I did not want to go through another mourning.”
She was however released the next day by some of her relatives and a lawyer. One of the relatives who gave her name simply as Mrs Getrude decried the manner at the which the matter was being handled , stating that rather than being concerned first about the life of Chizoba, her boss was more interested in the money.
“At the station next day, the Investigative Police Officer (IPO) advised us to have a family meeting to that effect but her boss’ husband kept insisting we must provide his wife’s money, even when we tried to convince him that money could not be equated to human life .
“We asked her boss if that was the first time she was sending Chizoba to the bank to deposit money and she said no. At the station, her husband threatened that if we did not provide the money, we should be ready to face the music. His wife even corroborated by saying that one of their relatives who made away with her husband’s N1.2 million later went mad.”
The family who concluded that there could have been more to their daughter’s disappearance disclosed that the matter was taken to the State Criminal Investigation Department last Friday, from where a call was put across to the missing girl, who to the astonishment of all, revealed that she was being kept in an uncompleted building located somewhere around Apapa.
According to Mrs Getrude, “she told us on the phone that she was being held by four men who claimed their target was her boss. She also told us that the money was still with her but that the men said they only abducted her in order to get her boss, Mrs Egbuchi.”
Asked how possible it was for an abducted person to be making calls, Mrs Getrude said, “she told us the people allowed her once in a while to pick her calls while they monitored the conversation . She also said when she sneaked out to call us at one time, she was beaten. She told us also that they insisted on releasing her only if her madam comes.
Chizoba, the missing girl and Evang. Ben, who brought her home
“Again at Panti, the detectives asked if Mrs Ogbuchi had received any strange calls on her phone, only for her to reveal that her phone had been with her husband, an information she initially did not divulge. But she later opened up that she had been receiving some strange calls where the callers usually threatened her.
“An appointment was fixed for Saturday last week at Panti between us and the Ogbuchis, for 10 am . But when we got there, we waited for over two hours without any sight of Mrs Ogbuchi or her husband. But to our shock, we were told that the case had been transferred to X-squad in Ikeja. We therefore started suspecting foul play.”
Just as operatives at X-squad were reportedly concluding plans to trace the missing girl through the calls made so far, Chizoba, resurfaced on Sunday in the company of a man who identified himself as Evangelist Udochukwu Ben. The Evangelist, an indigene of Ehime Mbano local government area of Imo state, claimed he saw Blessing in the morning at Mile Two, along the Oshodi-Apapa expressway looking pale and shabby.
Out of curiosity, he said he requested to know what was wrong with her, only for her to reveal that she was dropped by unknown gunmen there, after abducting her for close to a week.
“I asked her where she lived and she said Charles Avenue, Ojo road and I volunteered to take her home where I discovered she was telling the truth, from the way her people rejoiced on seeing her. But to my surprise, they started asking if I was the one that abducted her and insisted I must follow them to the police station.”
Asked where he was going at that particular time, he said he had gone to the market where he sells clothes at Yaba market as early as 5am and had closed for the day because by then, officials of the Kick Against Indiscipline would have arrived the market to arrest any trader who displays his wares. This is because the market has been shut by the Lagos state government.
How I was kidnapped
Looking pale and curling herself as someone feeling cold, the lady at the center of controversy, Chizoba, narrated thus, “ I was kidnapped . Last Wednesday, my madam sent me to pay in some money into the bank. As I was about entering the bank, a hefty man approached me with a paper in his hand and asked me to direct him to a place he scribbled on the paper. As I attempted to see what was scribbled on the paper, he blew a powdery substance into my face and I lost consciousness.
“Like a dummy, I followed him into a car where I found three other men. I was driven to an uncompleted building where they used a white handkerchief to clean my face before I regained consciousness. While there, they asked why my madam said she gave me the sum of N600,000 instead of N500,000 and I was shocked on how they knew about the minor argument that ensued between me and my madam before I left for the bank.
“The next bomb they dropped was that they won’t release me until my madam comes. I begged them to let me go, that I was not in anyway related to my madam, that I was only her sales girl. I even tried to explain to them that I am from Imo while she is from Anambra. It was at that point that one of them landed a slap across my face, ordering me to be quiet and at the same time asked what gave me the effrontery to speak when they are speaking.
“The next day, they brought food and water for me but I did not touch it. All I needed was for them to release me because I knew the trauma my mum would be going through. While there, my madam called me and they asked me not to pick her calls. Then, I overheard them saying they would release me on Sunday since my madam did not show up. But because I have lost count of the date and days, I did not know when Sunday will be.
“But on that day, they asked me to give them my madam’s money that has been with me. I knelt down and begged them to spare me the pain of having to pay back after I would have been released but they would not listen. One of them collected the money from me, tied my face with a white handkerchief and pushed me into a car and drove off.
“When they got to where they felt was okay for them, they untied my face and asked me to quietly leave the car and not raise any alarm. I obeyed , came out of the car and sat by the road side. It was after a while that I realized I was at Mile two.”
Asked if she could describe the type of vehicle used by her purported abductors, she shook her head. Crime Guard learnt that both the missing girl and the man that brought her home have been taken to Lagos State Police Command headquarters where detectives are battling to unravel the mystery surrounding the story of her disappearance and appearance including the role played by the man that reportedly brought her home.