Precious Owunari Pepple the mother of a four-year-old whose daughter went missing a year ago on a prayer ground at Deema community, in Bonny on December 13, 2020 has shared her experience once again.
Revealing how her daughter disappeared to Punch, Pepple stated that she had visited her village with an aunt of hers for a yearly prayer when her daughter went missing.
She said: “My daughter, Gabriella Sokari Tolofari, was four years old when she got missing. She would have been five this year. I was pregnant at the time. I had also just lost my mom that year, too, in May. It was Christmas period like this that the incident happened. My aunt called me on December 8 that she was coming to Bonny from Port Harcourt to join a yearly prayer, which was organised in our village, Bethel Village, very close to Dema Village.
“She came in on December 12, which was also my birthday, and we went to the village for the prayers. I went with my daughter as well. The next day, being Sunday, I was with my daughter in front of our village house, feeding her. Other kids were also there. My aunt’s 18-year-old girl, Dorathy, was also there.”
While in the village, her daughter told her that she needed to use the loo but she ignored her, so Dorathy offered to take her to the back of the house because there was no proper toilet in the village.
She explained that her daughter took longer than expected to finish pooing and when she later went to look for them, Dorathy who was cutting vegetables as at then told her that her daughter had finished pooing a while back and she told her to go and meet her mother.
“Then I asked her why she would do that, knowing that my daughter, who was just four years old, was new in the area and didn’t know her way around. I asked her where my daughter could be, but Dorathy could not give me any reasonable answer. I began to panic at that point.
“But I tried to calm myself down, telling myself that she might have followed other kids to play. But then I know my daughter is not that kind of a child; she wouldn’t follow just anyone. She followed Dorathy because she knew her. I know that if she wanted to play with anyone, she would inform me.”
Mrs Pepple said she raised an alarm and went searching for her daughter but they could not find her. Her husband also joined her the next day to search for their daughter but their efforts were futile.
She further revealed that the Bonny Divisional Police later followed them to the village to help with the search but came up with nothing.
Dorathy was arrested but was later released when the family began to mount pressure on the victims family for getting her apprehended.
When asked on how she was coping one year after the disappearance, Pepple stated that if her daughter was sick or dead they would be able to explain where she was but her disappearance had left her confused
She said: “I feel very bad because we are talking of a human being. It is quite different if the girl was ill or dead. At least, we can say, “This is where she was buried.” Her disappearance is something I haven’t come to terms with. I feel very bad. I spent complete four years training her and nine months she spent in my womb. It is heartrending!
“I have waited for one whole year without any sign of her and I am running out of patience. I don’t know if she is safe where she is. As a girl child, only God knows what they must have done to her. The first month when she got missing, I almost lost faith in God. I stopped eating; I also stopped communicating with anyone. I would just sit in my room, lock the door and would cry till I slept off. I became a shadow of myself, and I was pregnant. I just want to open the door and see her standing outside.”
The victims mother has expressed her hope that her daughter would come home to her some day.
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