One-year after, parents seek answers, return of missing six-year- old boy
James Charles is a boy cherished by everyone around him due to his friendly warmth and “talkative” nature. He stood out amongst his peers and his elder brother due to his brightness and excellent show in school. But one fateful day, around 1:00p.m, on November 16, 2018, he disappeared into the thin air and his sweet voice was no longer heard till date. He was five years and 6 months old at that time.
Seeking public awareness of the ordeal the family has been going through, efforts to see their beloved son walk up to them and, police lackadaisical attitude to finding the boy, the boy’s father, Charles Johnson-Itaoma, a photographer who resides in Finiger Estate, Satellite Town, Lagos, while speaking on the family’s efforts to get their son back, said, “we have visited almost all churches in Lagos, including the Synagogue church of all Nations, Rhema, etc. We were told our child is still alive but none of them can say precisely his whereabouts. We went to another church recently but we were told that our child is in Victoria Garden City (VGC), that he was sold to a barren couple.”
On the boy’s last contact, Itaoma said his son was last seen with a 19-year-old Ghanaian named Charles, who works with the NURTW at Abule-Ado. “I never knew he was a Ghanaian until my child went missing. He was nowhere to be found while we were looking for my boy, and he came back after four hours and told us that he was hiding from the army who always come to the area, because he didn’t have enough money to give them. He said he saw my child with a Calabar man known to both my wife and I.
“I told him we were not God to know the person in our absence. While this argument was on, someone among the market women said there was no need for argument, that we should just go to Rhema church. The pastor told us that Charles should be arrested because he knew the boy’s whereabouts. We went to the FESTAC police station and they arrested him on same Friday, November 16, 2018.
On the police response, he said: “The DPO just asked me to send the boy’s picture to another DPO. Charles was later transferred to Agboju police station where he was released after some weeks because the police said he was innocent. “I learnt that he told the police that my wife was very careless with my son. It was at the police station that he said he is from Ghana, that he just packed his bag and decided to come to Nigeria.
“The last time I saw him was at a construction site while I was running some errands around Abule-Ado.Speaking further, he said: “My cousin in London sent one person, Otuna Khalid Ajayi, and he met with the former Lagos State commissioner of police, Imohimi Edgal, who directed us to the Special Anti-robbery(SARs) and kidnapping Squad in Surulere. We went there, they took my statement and they gave us the head of department’s phone number. When I went to Agboju where they were supposed to transfer the case to, they said they couldn’t do that because a signal is supposed to be sent to them by SARs.
He further revealed how his disappeared: “My wife sells cooked food at the market, and that was where my son got missing. She said she went to supply food to some Mobile Policemen at Ecobank and it was when I asked after my boy when I came back that she realised he hadn’t come to request for food and water like he normally does. That was when we started looking for him. Then my wife remembered he had been playing with that Charles before she left.” Johnson-Itaoma appealed to the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to help him in compelling his men to continue investigation into his son’s whereabouts.