Nine months after a Nigerian mechanic, Momoh Usman, and three police officers went missing, three civil society outfits have called on the Nigerian government to put a closure on the matter.
Mr Usman and the police officers embarked on a journey to Gabon en-route Cameroon, in September 2018, to recover a stolen vehicle traced to the country by INTERPOL (International Criminal Police Organization). They are yet to return.
It is believed they got missing while in Cameroon.
PREMIUM TIMES, last month, following a visit to Mrs Momoh, the mechanic’s wife, and the force headquarters reported the ordeal.
While the police said they are still investigating the mystery, the families of the mechanic and at least two police officers continue to groan in anguish over the disappearance of their breadwinners.
The chairman of the Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC), Olanrewaju Suraju, said the duty of the federal government is to defend the welfare and safety of all its citizens.
“We are challenging the Nigerian government and not just the police, that they must protect the lives and properties of every Nigerian, not just the police officers but including that of the ordinary civilian.
“These men travelled under the INTERPOL, so it is under the police.
“The Nigerian government should be up and doing to establish what is the situation of these people so that the families can know whether they have a living breadwinner or they already lost a member of the family. At that point, they would be entitled to adequate compensation.
“Let the family of these men get in touch with us, so that we can quickly do some necessary legal action at both local and international exposure of the matter,” Mr Suraju added.
Gregory Okere of the Centre for Social Justice also said, “It is an incident that requires a high level of security skills to uncover the whereabouts of the four Nigerian citizens. However, since it has an international link, the Nigerian Police should collaborate with the Cameroonian government to track the last place they had their last communication in Cameroon. It an unfortunate situation for the Nigerian government and the affected families.
Also, the Executive Director, Citizens Advocacy for Social & Economic Rights (CASER), Frank Tietie, said this is not the first time INTERPOL police officers have gone missing and ”the President has not said anything”.
“First and foremost, I would say that this impunity and lack of accountability to the people is taken too far, where government institutions run as if they do not have the sense that they need to account for human and material resources that are within. That is why the constitution says that the government is accountable not to itself but the people.
“Every government agency has the responsibility to explain to the people, even if it means on an hourly basis, on what it does with people’s resources and the resources of the state in this regard. That non-accountability leads to irresponsibility that is why we do not make progress, which is why one individual policeman would be missing for 48 hours and everything is normal,” he said.
He asked the families involved to seek a reprieve.
“What would happen is that the family members of the missing men should demand an explanation immediately, a public explanation for what has happened to those men. They are in the line of duty; they did not travel to do one personal thing such as burial or wedding.
“Because they owe the people accountability, there must be a demand. I would demand through my organisation that they account for those people or else the head of the police (IGP) should resign if he cannot account for one police officer,” he added.
Cameroon keeps mum
Meanwhile, PREMIUM TIMES sought the reaction of the Cameroonian embassy in Nigeria.
The newspaper sent an e-mail to the official address of the embassy and then visited its Abuja office.
The reporter was asked to leave by embassy officials, who asked her to await the official response of the embassy.
In its response to the reporter’s mail, the embassy said: “We’ll send you a reply when we get any information on that. Thanks.”
It is yet to send a response weeks after.
This reporter contacted the police spokesperson, Frank Mba, for an update. He did not respond to the text messages and calls to him.