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I was detained with my six-month-old baby



A 27-year-old mother of two, Mrs. Chidima Arungwa, had a bewildered look on her face as she tried to collect her thoughts together. Chidima’s husband, Richard Ogechi Arungwa, has been missing since July 26. Since his disappearance, Chidima said that her life appeared to have been placed on hold.

Chidima, a petty trade, said that her husband left home at Idimu, Lagos on July 26 for his office at Ajao Estate and since then, had not seen him. She said: “We have been searching for him. When he started the job, he always goes to the office to pick his motorcycle and deliver his goods. He would later come home to eat his breakfast. He also used to come home to eat his dinner.

In fact, on that fateful Thursday when he came home as usual, I talked to him about quitting the job. The job was too stressful. Moreover, he had not fully recovered from the accident he had. His salary was N30,000.” The woman said that when she noticed he was not listening to her about quitting the job, she threatened to report him to his parents.

“His parents were not aware that he had started motorcycling job again. His parents wouldn’t be happy if they knew he was working as a dispatch rider. He had a terrible accident working for that same company as a dispatch rider.” When Chidima woke up at night, she checked her timepiece and was shocked to discover how late it was. Although she was asleep, she had been expecting Richard’s knock on the door. She felt sure he spent the night in the office.

She expected him the following day, which was Friday, but he didn’t come home. She disclosed that Richard first started working with Ondot Courier Company last year as a security guard and later, he was moved to dispatch riding department. Chidima said: “It was not up to a month that Richard got the job, and then he had the accident with the company’s motorcycle at Ifo area, Ogun State. Someone called his younger brother, Emmanuel. Richard was taken to National Orthopaedic Hospital, Igbobi, Lagos. He was rejected and then taken to Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi-Araba. He was abandoned by the same company.”

The woman said that since there was no money to pay for his medical bill, Richard was moved to Mr Bone, located at Ejigbo. It was there that he got better. She said that Richard’s parents were still in debt because of the loan they took to meet his bills. “One day, we received a call from his boss, Dele, that my husband should return to work. His parents warned him not to return to that company because of the accident he had, and how they abandoned him,” said Chidima. Richard went to heed Dele’s call. He returned to say that he would now be working directly with the administration manager.

Richard started working with them and then, on that July 26, he left home and didn’t return. Nobody knew what could have happened. Chidima said: “Dele called, saying that my husband had not returned their motorcycle and delivery money for that day. I was confused. Dele’s younger brother came, saying that if they didn’t find Richard and recover their motorcycle and money, they would hold us responsible. I was my husband’s guarantor, but what I need right now is just to see my husband or know his whereabouts.” Chidima, who was now weeping, said that she had a six-month-old baby and another two-year-old to mind alone.

She was worried and scared. It was with the six months old baby that she went to Richard’s office, to heed the call of Dele. At a point, Chidima told Dele that she wanted to go home to feed her baby, but the man allegedly refused. “He said he wouldn’t allow me to leave until Richard had been found and his items returned,” said Chidima. She continued: “I was there when they brought the police to arrest me. I was taken to Ajao Estate Police Station. Police asked me if I was Richard’ guarantor, I said yes. I was there until 10p.m. On Sunday, they came to re-arrest me and my baby.

I told Richard’s boss to provide my husband, that I wouldn’t mind going anywhere to borrow to pay him, since they were much more interested in their money and motorcycle.” She recounted that the police detained her, her baby and mother-in-law till the following day. The next day, the baby fell sick. Chidima felt it was due to mosquitos’ bites. Chidima and her children Richard Richard’s father, Mr. Friday Ogbonna Arungwa, 71, said that he recalled warning Richard never to return to the company to work. He noted that the accident Richard had as a dispatch rider affected his legs.

He disclosed that all the time Richard was in the hospital, struggling to stay alive, the company withheld his salary. Friday said: “Richard was at home for four months. I told him not to return to that company. The company didn’t even compensate him for the accident he had while working for them.

I spent over N800,000 for his treatment.” Friday said that he never knew his son went back to the company as a dispatch rider until he went missing. “The company said that Richard did not report to office and even had Jumia goods with him. They were the goods he was supposed to deliver,” said Friday. Friday stated: “The company said that they want their money, N350,000 and motorcycle.

I want to appeal to the company to provide my son. He went to work in the company and till date, hadn’t returned home.” Richard’s mother, Caroline Arungwa, 65, a farmer, said: “When I heard that my son was missing, I was worried and angry. I had earlier warned Richard not to return to that company after his horrible accident last year.

What he needed was a slow and steady job. One of his legs had not healed properly and his teeth had just been fixed and he was still receiving treatment.” The Managing Director of Ondot Courier Company, Mr. Dele Oduwale, said that if a worker went out with company property and the person was not seen, the right thing was to report the matter to the police. He said that the company reported to the police immediately it was discovered that Richard had gone missing. Oduwale said: “My worker went away with my motorcycle and the goods he was supposed to deliver to clients. We are working for Jumia Online Shopping. He had accident last year, and the company spent over N400,000 for his treatment.

He is still a casual staff in our organisation. It was out of my humanitarian feeling that I took care of his treatment. The police have declared him missing and signals have been sent to different stations across the nation. The police are extending their search to mortuaries in the state. On our own, we are doing undercover diggings and are asking questions of his whereabouts.”

The Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), CSP Chike Oti, said that as a responsible company, Ondot Courier, reported to the police that one of his staff, Richard, made away with it goods and motorcycle to an unknown destination. He said: “When such a case was reported to the police, the next step was to arrest the suspect’s guarantors.

Police will look at the direction of the suspect’s guarantors, and his wife and mother were the guarantors. They were invited for questioning and later allowed to go home. They were let go administratively and the man hunt is on to locate the suspect. Again, as a courier company, the owners of some of goods with the suspect are after the organisation.

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