By Godwin Edeh
A six year old primary one pupil of RCM Primary School, Tionsha in Makurdi, the Benue State capital, Agatha Ngohide Apenanibo has been reportedly missing.
MoThe Voice gathered that, while the pupils were on break, Agatha and her classmates, who later gave account of the incident, were playing by the roadside near the Makurdi -Naka road when an unknown woman called her and gave her an unspecified amount of money to buy biscuit and followed her never to return again.
Further investigations by The Voice revealed that, it was one of her classmates (also aged six), who narrated the incident to her father who in turn informed Agatha’s parents about what happened to their daughter at school while they were gradually becoming restless and wondering why it took her so long to return from school when all her mates were at home.
Narrating the incident to The Voice in her office, the Headmistress of the school, Mrs Grace Torkuma stated that, on that ill fateful day been Thursday 26th, October 2023, Agatha Ngohide Apenanibo actually came to school and was marked present in the class register during the morning roll call and was in the class till break period when she and her classmates went out for break and she never return to class again.
Mrs Torkuma said nobody noticed her absence because it was common with the pupils of the school to leave before closing time as most of them are instructed by their parents or guardians to return home to assist in domestic works; to sell or hawk their foodstuffs either in the market or within the community, which she has been having a running battle with them over such cases, saying they did not take her absence serious until the following day when the matter was brought to her notice by her class teacher when the father reported the incident to the school.
The head teacher attributed the incident to lack of perimeter fence which makes the school porous, unrestricted and vulnerable to trespass, making it difficult to control or restrict pupils within the school environment.
She decried the existence of too many thoroughfares within the school environment and appealed to the State Universal Basic Education Board and the state government to build a perimeter fence round the school to beef up security in and around the school premises and also guarantee security of staff and pupils.
According to her, the matter has been reported to the “D” Division police station.
Also speaking, the Parish Priest in charge of RCM Church, Tionsha, Rev Fr. Osbert Viashima, where Agatha’s parents are parishioners, told The Voice in a phone chat that the parishioners are praying for the safe return of Agatha Ngohide Apenanibo and urged anybody with useful information about her whereabouts, to contact the following numbers: 08038986079, 07064873176 and 07065629923 or the nearest police formations for necessary action.
When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer, Benue State command, SP Catherine Sewuese Anene confirmed the incident and told The Voice that, investigation into the matter is currently going on.
She appealed to parents and guardians and relevant school authorities to take extra precautionary measures to ensure the safety of their wards, students and pupils, especially during the “Ember months” when Christmas is approaching.
All efforts to hear from the father failed as he declined comments when The Voice visited him at his Makurdi residence.