Red Cross: 23,000 Reported Missing in Nigeria in Eight Years


Michael Olugbode in Maiduguri

Not less than 23,000 persons, mostly children were reported missing in eight years in Nigeria, a new report by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has stated.

According to the report, which was released last week to mark the annual International Day for the Disappeared today (August 30), coronavirus pandemic hindered the search and reunification of missing persons as large gatherings of persons were discouraged.

The report also stated that about 44,000 people were registered as missing across Africa due to conflicts, climate change, and immigration of whom 45 per cent of those are children.

The report shows that Nigeria, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Cameroon, Libya, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo accounted for 82 per cent of the disappeared persons registered by the Red Cross in the continent.

As a result of the conflicts in the north east part of the country, Nigeria has the highest number of the missing people registered, at about 23,000.
The report said about 20,000 missing persons were reported in that part alone.

Many have lost their lives as a result of the bloody asymmetric war in the north east. Thousands have also been displaced.

Attacks on civilians in the region have continued despite claims by the government that the group has been defeated.

In June, Boko Haram in one of its deadliest attacks, killed 81 people in Gubio, a Borno community. The UN humanitarian coordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon, had while commenting on the killings of the civilians, bemoaned the failing state of insecurity in the Northeast.

ICRC’s spokesperson in Nigeria, Aliyu Dawobe, had on Thursday told BBC Hausa Service that the Red Cross received complaints of the missing persons in Nigeria due to conflict in the Northeast from 2012 to 2020.

According to him, among the missing persons, children constitute 60 percent of reported disappearance in Nigeria.

“Those missing persons are not under the Red Cross safe custody. They were, however, under the Red Cross search following complaints by relatives of the missing persons because the Red Cross does search for the missing persons.

“The searches are mostly conducted at Internally Displaced Person Camps (IDPs), likewise, children do ask us about their missing parents which we normally ask about their names, towns, and addresses then we conduct the search.”

He said the Red Cross in Nigeria in 2019 was able to reunite over 53 children with their parents and other missing relatives.

OMSL Denies $18m Fraud Allegation

Ocean Marine Solutions Limited (OMSL), a private security firm, yesterday denied alleged mismanagement of $18m by its Chairman, Capt Idahosa Wells Okunbo.

In a statement by its four directors Admiral Ameen Ikioda (Rtd), M Garth Dooley, Admiral Joe Aikhomu (Rtd) and Mr. Kunle Oyelakun, the security firm described the allegation as unfounded and untrue.

The statement said the attention of OMSL management “has been drawn to a malicious and spurious publication on alleged schism in the board of OMSL over alleged mismanagement of $18m.”

“In the said write-up, the faceless hack mischievously alleged that our chairman had taken possession of the said sum from NNPC, and squandered it in alleged bribery of National Assembly members and presidency officials over the squabble with Nigeria Ports Authority on the SAA issue.”

According to the statement, OMSL would not have dignified the faceless writer with a reply, but unsuspecting members of the public might be swayed by deliberate falsehood.

For this reason, the firm said the write-up “is totally false in every material particular. No payment of $18m dollars or any such payment was received by OMSL or our chairman.”

It added that no bribe was paid to federal lawmakers or presidency officials in respect of Secure Anchorage Area (SAA) issue with NPA by OMSL or our chairman.

It said the concocted publication “could only have been in the warped imagination of the writer and his sponsors. We believe the write-up is politically motivated to smear the reputation of our company and our chairman.

“There is no division whatsoever in the directorate and management of OMSL,” the statement said.