Disappeared without a trace since 34 days while returning to school in the East from Lagos, distraught parents of a 25-year old undergraduate, Ismail Balogun have resorted to fasting and prayer for his safe return. Balogun, a 300 level Animal Science student of Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, Abia State, left the Maza Maza motor park on November 30, 2012 to board a bus back to school.
He is a product of a broken home. Balogun’s parents separated when he was just 19 months old. Narrating her ordeal, the mother, Oluwatoye told Daily Sun that since her son went missing in transit, she is gradually becoming mentally unstable because there was no record of any accident involving the bus he travelled in.
Ismail’s father is equally worried. He had posers. Was his son a victim or cultism of rituals? Where did his captors take the photograph they posted on Facebook? His mother told Daily Sun on phone that on the fateful day (November 30, 2012), her first son, Ismail, wanted to go back to school.
She left her residence at Ibeshe Waterside Village in Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area, Lagos, to her former husband’s residence on Egbe, Ikotun Road, Lagos, to see the undergraduate. Oluwatoye said she bought provisions and foodstuff for Ismail and gave him some cash. She wanted to accompany Ismail to Maza-Maza motor-park, along Lagos–Badagry Expressway, but he told her not to worry.
She said Ismail left Egbe Ikotun Road, a Lagos suburb, at about 4 pm. At after 9pm, she called him and he responded that they were just moving out of Maza-Maza. At about 11pm she called her son’s two phones and they rang but there was no response.
At about 6am she called and this time, the mobile phones were switched off. She also called again at about 12pm, yet, no communication whatsoever. According to Oluwatoye, she had since called her former husband, Musibau Balogun, who told her not to worry. He told his wife that probably Ismail could be sleeping when she phoned him.
Her words: “Since November 30 that my first son embarked on that journey back to school and was missing in transit, I cannot sleep, eat or concentrate on anything. The problem is driving me crazy. My son is such a good boy. He is my first son. He used to advise me. He used to console me when I am so worried about anything. He usually gives me good advice even about my business.
I am a trader. He would come to the market to assist me in some cases when he is in Lagos. What am I going to do now? First, I could not even eat well. Now I have started fasting since over one week. I’m praying for divine intervention. God should please save my child and allow him to return home,” Oluwatoye prayed. The father, Balogun said before Ismail left his residence on Egbe Ikotun Road, they attended the Ju’mat service at a mosque in the area. Balogun said Ismail left at about 4.30 pm to board a mini- bus at Maza-Maza enroute Umudike, in Umuahia. He said his son is a 300- level Animal Science student of Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, who never engaged in any violent activity.
He said he called his mates in the same school in Umudike, Umuahia, and they said he had not arrived and that they too were worried as they had called his numbers but his mobile phones were switched off. The father said at about 2.25 am, photographs appeared on the Facebook showing his son half -unclad and three other men sitting round a table and the look on his son’s face in the pictures showed that of a worried man. The other picture in which his son snapped alone beside a commercial mini- bus suspected to be the vehicle he wanted to board to Umuahia, showed him to be happy.
The questions the aggrieved father is asking are: Where did they snap the pictures they showed on the Facebook? Who did that? What was the intention of the person(s) who placed the pictures? Where is his son right now? Who were the three men around him? The father had been trying hard to unravel the mystery behind the strange disappearance of his son. He even went to Maza-Maza to ask the transporters if there was any serious accident between Lagos and Umuahia and they said, ‘none’.
He also asked if any mini-bus broke down on the road and they replied that none broke down. The worried father said he reported the matter at Area ‘E’, FESTAC Police Post and even wrote a petition in support of it. He visited the two telcoms service providers his son used while traveling to inquire about the calls made with the phones.
The staff of one of the service providers in Ladipo, Mushin, advised him to tell the police to visit the office. He said the staff said it would not cost the police a dime because they don’t charge money for rendering such assistance. Balogun said the police had allegedly refused to contact the service provider to locate the whereabouts of his son or his abductors.
He said they should have begun their investigation from Maza-Maza garage. He said they should also use the picture to locate the vehicle. In a petition addressed to Area ‘E’ Commander, dated December 9, 2012, and entitled ‘Lost in transit/kidnapping’, Balogun said his son got missing in transit. The petition read in parts: “I am appealing to the Area Commander, FESTAC to use his good office to save “my son’s life and bring those culprits to book”. The man said his son had been boarding vehicles from Maza-Maza to Umuahia for the past two years without any problem.
He said he only gave him money for transport because he had already paid money into Ismail’s account and when he reached his school, he would withdraw it from a bank in the school premises. “At about 7pm he called that he forgot his laptop and credentials in the house. I told him not to worry about that and I promised to give the items to his mates when they were going back for the Christmas. At about 9.30 pm, he flashed me and I called him back. He said they were about to move. I told him safe journey and prayed for him. We later tried his number several times, but no response. I love him so much. He is my first son.
I singularly trained him. His mother abandoned him and me when he was just one year and seven months old. The mother left us since over 23 years now. I suffered to make him an intelligent child that he is. His mother is married to another man. She lives at Ibeshe Waterside Village in Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area of Lagos. My son does not have many friends.
His friends are good boys who take their education seriously. He is very jovial. I don’t know whether he has a girl friend. I know he does not tolerate nonsense but he is not the violent type,” Balogun said.