Where are the Dokuns?

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The whereabouts of Temilayo, Titilayo and Toluwani Dokun, whose parents were killed by Boko Haram in 2014, are still unknown after they were abducted by the insurgents in Borno State, writes Michael Olugbode

He had a vision of becoming an accomplished educationist and a fulfilled minister of God. He had started well by being a shining light in the fastest growing church worldwide, the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG). He was a respected man of God in the Askira-Uba Local Government Area of Borno State and was winning soul into the Kingdom of God. On the education front, he had established and nurtured the mission school, the Redeemed Heritage School into the best school in the area.

These two things, school and Christian religion, though two of the greatest tools to lay a foundation of a great society were the greatest enemies of the deadliest fundamentalist group in the history of Nigeria, Boko Haram, and made him a target, a light that had to be dimmed.

Taiwo Noah Dokun, was born about four decades ago in Ijan- Ekiti of Gbonyin Local Government Area of Ekiti State. According to his twin sister, Esther Kehinde Adesuyi, Taiwo was not only a minister of the gospel of Christ and a great educationist but a breadwinner in the family as he had to meet the needs of different family members.
She said their parents died while they were still very young and they were trained by relatives.

Kehinde lamented that “the family members that took care of him while growing up have not been informed of his death till now because of what the shock might cause the ageing people. Our dad died like 28 years ago while our mother died in 2004 and the care of the late Pastor was left to the younger sister. Taiwo had to pay a debt of gratitude to our Aunty whom he took care of and many of our siblings too he assisted in terms of payment of their school fees and even sending to them feeding allowance.”

Kehinde, who said the family had continually appealed to his late twin brother to relocate from troubled Borno State, said they were in fact expecting him back home. Unfortunately, all they received was his corpse, news of the wife death in the camp of the insurgents and no clear news of three children of the deceased.

She said: “Although the wife had still-birth the previous week before the attack. He was actually planning to return South while also nursing the ambition of leaving the school (Redeemed Heritage) and the church (RCCG Glorious Parish) both in Askira-Uba in Borno State under the management of the church but the attack on the family shattered all these plans.”

On the attack, Pastor Olusona Johnson of Grace Assembly Parish of Redeemed Christian Church of God, Lassa, has this to say: “At the time of the incident I was at Strong Tower Parish, Gajali village in Askira-Uba local government, just about 20 minutes drive to Dille, where Pastor Taiwo Dokun was the shepherd. Two weeks to the incident, he told me he was planning to relocate his family to the South-west that he was waiting to submit his mandatory monthly remittance to the church. Where I was in Gajali, I saw people fleeing from Dille and we heard series of bomb blast and when we asked from those fleeing, we were told the insurgents have entered Dille. I was so concerned about his welfare and started calling his mobile, from morning till the next day I could not get through to him, I equally got in touch with one of our senior pastors in Lassa who informed me that he had been trying his number without success.

“We were later told on the second day by some that escaped the town that he had been killed with his family abducted. They equally told us that his house was burnt along with his property. We continued as a church to pray for the family.

“The church was later told by some that escaped from Sambisa Forest that she Pastor Dokun’s wife was unable to escape when they did because she had an injury that could not make her to run. We were equally told that immediately they got to Sambisa Forest, she was separated from her three children.”

Johnson lamented that “some other people that escaped at a later date told us that the woman was now dead, that she died because of illness; that she was diabetic.”

He said the news on the children were not clear enough. “We were hearing different tales about the children, some said they are still with the insurgents, some said one of the children was killed by the insurgents and they dumped his corpse by the water bank. Up till now we are still not sure where the children might be, though the soldiers have rescued many children from Sambisa Forest, we have not been able to see those children.”

The Pastor in charge of RCCG Region 16, Pastor Johnson Adediran had this to say on the issue: “I do not actually know him (the deceased pastor) in person, the incident happened during the tenure of my predecessor, Pastor Emmanuel Kalejaiye. Though we all knew when it happened because the news went viral, I got to know of it in my former station, when I came here in September 2014, the pathetic story was still fresh in the heart of the RCCG family in Borno State. Then the wife was still alive according to the story we heard, we made it a point of duty to pray for their release, we had prayers for them almost every morning because then we had some pastors who were displaced and were living within the church premises and we used to have a daily devotional and we had prayer meetings for the return of peace to the state and the entire region.

“It was in January 2015 that we heard rumours of the death of the wife within the camp of the insurgents, we learnt from some of the women that escaped from the insurgents. Despite that we continued to pray for the release of the children, but around May last year, we learnt that some children were liberated and we thought the children were among. According to the story the liberated children were taken to some camps in Yola, we sent those who knew them to Yola to go in search of them but all was to no avail.”

According to him, when a letter was received from the deceased pastor’s twin sister claiming that the children had been liberated from Sambisa Forest and among the children allegedly adopted by governors of Edo, Bayelsa and Kaduna states, “we have to send the details including the photographs of the children to senior pastor in Bayelsa, Edo, and Kaduna. Because the name of Borno was mentioned in her letter I also called our indigenous pastors who know the terrain well to go about the search, they went to all the IDPs camps looking for them without any success. The church is still in search of the children and would want the public, including security agents, to help in the search for these children.”

Adediran added that: “Those children are covenant children. The General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor Enoch Adeboye and his wife, Pastor Foluke Adeboye and the entire family of RCCG are eager to recover them, so that the Church can do the needful. We implore the general public including NEMA (National Emergency Management Agency) and the security agents to contact any of the RCCG parishes or any member near them in case any of the children is located.”

The search for the three children is not put in place by the RCCG alone, the family of the deceased has travelled near and far to reunite with them. According to Kehinde, “We have been to Red Cross offices in Abuja and Yola, IDPs camps in Yola, Durumi and Abuja, NEMA office in Ibadan, DSS office in Ibadan for these children.”

Though Taiwo and his wife, Vera, have been dispatched to their creator by the accursed Boko Haram insurgents, nobody knows the whereabouts of Temilayo (8 years), Titilayo (6 years) and Toluwani (4years), three children who are expected to keep the dynasty of a preacher and his wife made martyrs by insurgents.

The church and family of late Taiwo Noah Dokun are at a crossroad and do not know how to continue to go about the search and are now calling on all well-meaning Nigerians and agencies of government to assist in the search of the three missing children.