The traumatised families say they have not given up on the matter.
Mogbonjubola and Iyiola, both in their old age, have not given up on the search for a police officer, Olutope Falode, their son, whose whereabouts remain unknown two years after he set out on an official assignment to Gabon.
Three senior police officers of the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL); Olutope Falode, Yohanna Gamidan and Usman Mohammed, and one mechanic, Usman Momoh, were sent to the Central African country from Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city, to track a stolen vehicle on September 3, 2018.
The last signal the police saw of these four was when they were in Cameroon, some 900 kilometres away from the destination.
All efforts to locate these four have however been unsuccessful but the old couple still hopes Olutope would one day walk through their gate.
The vehicle they went to recover belongs to one Felicia Ogunjana, who claimed it was stolen at a gunpoint in Nigeria.
“The INTERPOL sent them, you can confirm from them. He (mechanic) was the one who volunteered to go with them. Momoh was to drive the vehicle back with the police because he is a mechanic in case the vehicle develops a fault on the way. But we couldn’t hear from them since then. It was later we heard that they have not gotten to Gabon.
”We have always been at the INTERPOL to know how far they have gone, which they have been doing their best. But up till now, no information about them. We are still waiting for INTERPOL to tell us if they were able to get any info from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs because they are on it,” Mrs Ogunjana told PREMIUM TIMES last year.
According to an officer of INTERPOL who spoke with PREMIUM TIMES in 2019, the disappearance of the four men was shocking to the security organisation.
“And the thing is whenever officers go on such a journey, once they arrive there, they get a new sim and call us over here with the new number. On the first day that we did not hear from them, we thought it was network issues. By the way, that is not the first time operatives embark on such a journey. In fact, one of them (Mr Falode), that would have been his fourth or fifth in that year on such assignment.
“Whenever he gets to wherever he is going to, he would call. The thing is that he speaks French, so the team likes to have someone like him who can speak French. And again, it opens a lot of doors for officers. You cannot just go there and start speaking English. If you speak French, they would be receptive.”
The officer, who did not want to be named because he is not authorised to comment, said when they could not reach them, the Nigerian police messaged the National Central Bureau (NCB) in Cameroon.
“Eventually, Cameroon confirmed that they sighted the officers at the border and to a point, but incidentally there is this issue going on in Cameroon between the separatists and the government. So, we now thought that may be either of the two (Separatists or Government forces) captured them.
”They were in a police vehicle, which is the only vehicle we have here and now we do not have any other vehicle. So, we described the vehicle, we gave the picture.”
He said the issue had been ‘escalated’ to the Cameroonian ambassador and the National Security Adviser (NSA) in Nigeria then.
When PREMIUM TIMES visited the Falode’s residence in Ibadan, Oyo state, Mogbonjubola, Olutope’s mum, said she wept for two years till the point of developing an eye defect.