The family of a Dangote Driver who has mysteriously disappeared for three years are still seeking for answers to the unfortunate incident, with the company proffering a contrary theory. It was December 2013, when Nigerians were preparing to end the year on a high note, the family of 36-year old Dantala Da’u, was ending the year in a limbo; one caused by the mysterious disappearance of the young man, while on his way to Lagos to deliver cement. That period, it was learnt, should have been a period of joy for Da’u, whom the family said was preparing for his wedding which would have taken place two weeks after the time he disappeared. But he simply vanished without a trace. With no clue as to his fate, the family has held on to a waning hope that he might walk in some day.
From Da’u’s appointment letter, a copy of which was provided to Saturday PUNCH, he started work with Dangote Nigeria Limited (Transport Division), in October 2001. His brother, who spoke with a Punch correspondent through an interpreter since he can only communicate in Hausa, said that Da’ u was so honest at his job that he was given a commendation letter at a time for returning 40 bags of sugar, which was the excess merchandise loaded into his trailer.
For the family, what has further aggravated the sorrow is the fact that the police have offered them no explanation. “We are uneducated, this is why the company too has not told us anything about what happened to him,” Da’u’s brother, Abdullahi, said.
According to Abdullahi, for their mother, Hassana Aliyu, who is 80 years old, life has become a daily dose of sorrow and sobbing in the last three years because Da’u was everything to her. “She is feeling very sad and cries every time. She depended on my brother to feed because I don’t have a good job yet. Things have been hard since then. This is why I even plan to go to Port Harcourt in search of menial jobs,” Abdullahi said.
Abdullahi said their depressed elderly mother, had told him to simply go to Lagos in search of his elder brother. He said when he got to the office of the Dangote transport division, an official, who attended to him simply explained that the trailer Da’u was driving was found intact but without him nor his motor-boy.
Saturday PUNCH learnt that when no word was heard from him several hours after he was supposed to deliver the goods in his trailer back in December 2013, officials were said to have pinpointed the location of the trailer through a vehicle tracker on board.
The trailer was later located in police custody. The company said the trailer was found in custody of the Alakuko Police Division in Lagos, but all the 900 bags of cement in it were gone. The driver and the motor-boy, who brought the trailer there were nowhere to be found. Unfortunately, they have remained so for the last three years.
Abdullahi said that when their mother heard nothing from Da’u, who usually did not stay away for long without contacting home, they became worried. “I came to Lagos to look for my brother, but all I came back with were the papers of his employment. We knew he could not just go anywhere without us knowing because we were making preparation for his wedding. What could have happened to him? The company at least owes us an explanation all this while,” he said.
According to him, when he got to the transport division office of Dangote, an official showed him the vehicle, which he said had been assigned to another driver. “I was told the manager of the transport division was not around. Two high ranking officials attended to me and told me how the trailer he drove was found. The chairman of the drivers’ union later told me to go and see the current driver of the trailer. He said he would give me all the documents pertaining to my brother, which were found in the trailer,” he said.
But in a reaction, the company has refutted allegations that the driver went missing. Rather, the company said it was still looking for the driver, which it alleged, sold its goods and absconded.
Head of the company’s transport division, Mr. Mohammed Rabiu, alleged that the driver attached to the company’s cement subsidiary, was asked to deliver 900 bags of cement three years ago, adding that the trailer was found but that Da’u sold off the products and abandoned the trailer on the road.
Rabiu said, “In 2013, he loaded the cement from Ibeshe in Ogun State and was supposed to deliver it to a depot at Isolo, Lagos. At that time, nobody would have gone to look for a missing driver because around that period, I had more than 12 cases of diversion of goods from the company. There was a particular driver who loaded cement eight times, diverted the products and abandoned the trailer.
“Some of the drivers who have been disengaged in the company, form a band of robbers and waylay other drivers and steal the company’s goods, especially between Papalanto and Shagamu. This happens a lot around December every year.”
Rabiu told Punch correspondent that Da’u was employed in Lagos but later transferred to the company’s Ibeshe factory. According to him, Da’u was employed in Lagos when the company still had a central transport division, but when the company became a public liability company, he was transferred to the Ibeshe factory.
He said, “As far as I am concerned, no relation of Da’u came to ask for him in the company. We are the one aggrieved in this case. We really need to see the family members of the man. Go to Ibeshe and find out the level of cheating perpetrated by drivers. “We would have normally gone after the guarantor of any driver who diverts goods but most of them have fake guarantors.
“When we commissioned a company to verify our drivers, out of 1,000 drivers, 600 had real guarantors, 400 had fake guarantors. When the company explained the implication of guaranteeing drivers, about 100 of them withdrew. This is the kind of thing we are facing.”