More than 200 days since the first of three young ladies was kidnapped in Sekondi/Takoradi, distraught family members of the victims say their patience is running out.
They expressed surprise at the silence of the government and the police on how far the rescue efforts had gone.
According to them, they had endured excruciating mental torture, anxiety and desperation and, therefore, wanted the authorities to save the situation.
Between August and December 2018, three kidnapping cases were reported to the police from Kansaworodo, Diabene and West Fijai in Sekondi/Takoradi in the Western Region.
The first victim, Priscilla Blessing Bentum, 21, a third-year student of the University of Education, Winneba, was kidnapped at Kansaworodo on August 17, 2018.
The second, Ruth Love Quayson, 18, a senior high school graduate living with her parents at Diabene, was kidnapped at the Butumegyabu Junction, popularly known as Bu Junction, on December 4, 2018.
The third, Priscilla Mantebea Koranchie, who turned 16 years on March 3, a student of the Sekondi College (SEKCO) who lived with her parents at West Fijai, a suburb of Takoradi, was kidnapped at a spot near Nkroful Junction in Takoradi on December 21 2018.
Priscilla’s parents paid ransom of GH¢1,000 to the alleged kidnappers but they failed to release her.
A Nigerian, Samuel Udoetuk Wills, 28, who was arrested as a prime suspect is still in custody.
In all the three instances when Wills allegedly kidnapped the three girls, the police said the suspect struck acquaintances with the victims for some time.
The kidnapper then contacted the victims several times through mobile phone communication and promised Blessing and Ruth jobs, while he promised the third victim a mobile phone.
‘We feel neglected’
Speaking to the Daily Graphic yesterday, some family members of the victims said at the moment the mere mention of the names of the girls, every knock on their doors and every telephone call to them increased their level of anxiety, since they did not even know if the girls were alive.
They said they felt neglected by the state, the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection and the police, since those institutions had kept them in the darkness for long.
The initial eagerness attached to the issue, the families said, had gone down drastically and regular updates on investigations had not been forthcoming.
A father’s pain
Priscilla’s father, Mr Alexander Koranchie, said the families of the victims were aware that the suspect was in court on the charge of escaping from lawful custody, which was not really helping matters.
In a voice full of helplessness and anger, he said: “The level of anxiety is too much. I went to court the last time, knowing very well that the substantive case [kidnapping] has not been called, but I just wanted to hold the suspect and ask him the whereabouts of my child and the two others. Probably he would understand our pain and tell me as a parent.”
He called on the authorities to do everything possible to save the situation.
“The police should get the suspect to tell me where my daughter and the other two are; whether they are still alive and to direct us to where we could pick them. The hauling of the Nigerian up and down in the name of escape from custody increases our pain and anger,” he said.
He said what they wanted currently was a sustained campaign to recover the children.
“The pictures are out there. If they are in Ghana, we appeal to the public to help trace our children, for we are running out of patience,” he said.
In the quest to secure the release of the girls and before reporting to the police, the parents were made to pay ransoms of GH¢4,500 and GH¢1,300 to the alleged kidnappers, in the hope of getting their daughters back, but to no avail.
On December 22, 2018, the police arrested Wills from his hideout on the outskirts of Kansaworodo.
A number of calls between Wills and the victims were analysed and the police established his connection to the three kidnapped cases.
On his arrest, he gave several leads to the police which turned out to be wild goose chases and he was processed for court on December 24, 2018 and remanded in police custody to reappear on 9 January, 2019.
However, about 6.25 p.m. on December 30, 2018, he managed to escape through one of the ventilation windows of the cell after allegedly using a hacksaw blade to cut the iron rods used to secure the windows. The situation led to a 10-day ultimatum to seven policemen to produce the suspect.
He was, however, recaptured in an uncompleted building at Kansaworodo on January 3, 2019.
A search conducted around the building where he was recaptured revealed the dress, the headgear and rubber slippers the third victim wore when she was kidnapped.
That clue gave the police a strong belief that the accused was connected to the crime.
He has been in court on the charges of escaping from lawful custody, causing unlawful damage to the police cell and resisting arrest, to all of which he had pleaded not guilty.
Joe Bright Nyarko
Journalist/Communication Researcher. Environment & Sustainability Advocate. Managing Editor of aptnewsghana.com, a non-profit news portal with bias towards environment and sustainability issues, rural development policies and gender & inequality.