The disappearance of a 2-year-old girl, Chinaza Agwa from her parents’ bedside on March 6 has shocked inhabitants of Amuwo Odofin area of Lagos State. Since then, her parents, community leaders and other residents have been in agony. Saturday Sun gathered that Chinaza is the last child of Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth and Chinyere Agwa whose 14-year-old marriage has yielded four children namely; Emeka, 13, Chioma 9, Obinna, 7 and Chinaza, 2. Recounting how Chinaza disappeared, the mother, Mrs. Chinyere said that the last time she saw her daughter was around 1am on the fateful March 6, adding that Chinaza was wearing a red trouser and a top.
“The last time I saw my last daughter was on 6th of March, around 1am. I had just fed her with tea and bread. She was wearing red trousers with a shirt. The only thing she could say was to call mummy, daddy and brother. She is a girl that when you go close to her, you would not regret it. She plays with everybody,” she said.
After feeding her daughter, Chinyere went to bed and slept off. It was not until 4am when she woke up to check on her daughter that she noticed her disappearance from her side. “It was around 4am when I woke up from sleep but I did not see my daughter. I woke my husband up and he told me to check her in the other room where her brothers and sister laid. I did as my husband told me, but I did not see her. I continued to search for her. I went outside the room to search for her, yet I didn’t see her”.
Chinyere did not limit her search for Chinaza to the rooms. Immediately, she decided to call the attention of her neighbours to her predicament. As she was stepping out of her shanty of a house; built with woods and covered with polythene, she noticed something strange, the front door of her makeshift apartment was widely opened. It was an unusual scenario. “I began to shout. I woke all my neighbours. I urged them to help me check if my daughter walked into their houses. But I discovered my front door was opened. I hardly leave the front door opened. I was the one who closed the compound gate and our door that night. I could not have left the door opened,” she wondered.
While her neighbours were wailing, Chinyere noticed that the gate to the compound was also tampered with. “The gate was forcefully opened. Our neighbours passed underneath the gate. Some of my neighbours came home around 1 am. Underneath the gate, there is a large hole there that one can pass through into the compound,” she disclosed.
Shedding light on the matter was Chinaza’s father, Kenneth Agwa, who said his daughter’s disappearance was like abduction by an in-house friend. He alleged that their door was opened when they woke up, disclosing that his door can be opened from outside, even when locked from within. “They could enter my apartment through the main door. Anybody close to me in the compound knows how to open it. You can stretch your hand over the door and unhook the door. When we lost our key, there is a place I cut the door. All the boys in the compound come to my house to charge their phones, therefore, they know how to unlock the door. That day, they used the same method to steal the baby away,” he narrated.
Kenneth said that they searched for Chinaza till daybreak. Thereafter, she took h search to the streets, close by bushes and neighbouring communities. “When we didn’t see our child at dawn, we started to look for her everywhere. We even went to bushes to search for her. We went to neighbouring communities also. We also went to the barracks on our way back, we saw estate landlords who have joined the search. They group themselves and searched with us. They also searched inside the forest. It was in the night that DPO Trade Fair Police arrived with patrol van, it was then he said that we must come to the police to make proper statement,” he stated.
Neighbours as suspects
The houses in the compound were built in a semi-circular style, with each house fused to the other. As such, it is possible to hear discussions in the next apartment. Kenneth who is also the caretaker of the compound said that before his daughter’s disappearance, there has been relative peace in the house. He said that in the last five years he has resided in the compound, there has not been a case of theft or anything related. To him, the only problem in the compound has been one of his co-tenants, simply known as Chinonso.
“Before the disappearance of my daughter, there has not been any case of missing cloth or theft situation. I have been living in the house for five years. I am the caretaker of the house. I have been safe there, but since all these area boys started bringing different people there, things have not been the same. Now, there is no peace, they fight and quarrel all the time. I have time s without number, told them to evict the boys they brought to the house,” he stated.
Saturday Sun gathered that two of Kenneth’s neighbours are currently in police custody. One of the suspects, Chinonso was arrested for making an ambitious statement. It was gathered that Chinonso had boasted, in Kenneth’s presence, that he would make money, by hook or by crook. Kenneth alleged that Chinaza was very close to Chinonso. “Towards the beginning of last year, Chinonso said that he would make money by all means; that if his wish does not come to past that year, that he can use anybody or anything to have riches. Since he made that comment, his ways have not been straight, he has become more notorious than ever.
He fights and quarrels with everybody. He has threatened virtually everybody in the compound. He even said that he was going to kill one of our neighbours. The most painful part of this is that he is very nice to my children. He would take Chinaza away and get her things and return in peace. Sometimes he would play with all of them together. He is not someone that will carry my baby and she would start to cry. My baby plays and eats in his house. My baby loves the boy. She likes him to feed her. He has lived a year and some months with us,” he stated.
The second suspect in custody is Onyeka. While Chinonso is a co-tenant, Onyeka lives in the next compound. Onyeka was arrested because his shoe was seen in the compound on the day of Chinaza’s disappearance.When Kenneth finally found him, after abandoning his house, Onyeka denied owning the brown shoe. “He lives at the back of my house. When you were coming, if you had noticed, there was a bush, in that bush, he is building a shanty. A day before my daughter disappeared, Onyeka lodged a complaint to my wife about our neighbours’ throwing dirt into his compound. I went out and told him that I would take care of it.
That very day, he was wearing a brown shoe with jeans knickers. When we woke in the morning and were looking for our baby, we saw a brown shoe. We traced the owner up to the area boys who identified that the shoe belonged to Onyeka. They said that it belonged to Ofuola meaning ‘I am missing’ which is another nickname Onyeka has. I looked for him for more than a week. A boy I see everywhere before the disappearance of my baby. It was by the grace of the area boys that the police arrested him. He had been in hiding after the incident happened. When we got to the police, he denied owning the shoe but the police asked him to wear it, low and behold it sized him,” he stated.
Kenneth is pleading with the two suspects or whoever is with his child to release her and save the two boys in custody. “If I see my baby, they can be released,” he stated.
When Chinyere was asked how she has been holding up, she said she is still expecting her baby to walk into the house through the front door. It is the same hope she is giving her other children who have continued to ask her about their sister. “I have been telling them that they should be calm that their sister would return. They know that their sister is missing.”