Ibadan forest of horror: Tears, joy in hospital

By IAfrica
In Nigeria
Mar 25th, 2014
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Victim, family reunite

Rescued woman, 72, disappears again

THERE was some sunny side to the dark, gloomy Ibadan “forest of horror” story yesterday.

A couple found their relation among the victims at the State Hospital, Yemetu in the Oyo State capital.

“Yes. This is our son. He was born with this deformed hand,” Mr. Adewale Atoyebi screamed after seeing his niece, Adewale Atoyebi, who had been missing for three years.

For Mr. Atoyebi’s wife, it was a mixture of joy and sadness. She burst into tears.

The victim is among the eight brought to the hospital Saturday evening after the discovery of a forest in Soka where human parts and dying people were found.

Mr Atoyebi and his wife said they heard through the media that Adewale Atoyebi was among the rescued victims. He said they (his own nuclear family) were not aware of his disappearance until their relatives in Ada, Osun State, called to instruct him to go to the hospital to confirm if Adewale was their child.

“I live in Ibadan here with my family. I did not know that Adewale was missing because it has been long we last visited our home town, Ada in Osun State. My people back home just called us yesterday that I should go and find out if the rescued Adewale is our son. Here we are,” Mr Atoyebi said.

On seeing Adewale, he became excited. “Yes, this is our son. He was born with this deformed hand. Here he is,” Atoyebi said.

But the victim did not pay attention to him immediately. He went back to his bed after visiting the toilet.

For Mrs Atoyebi, it was a mixed feeling. The joy of recovering her in-law was palpable. Yet she was disturbed by the state of his health. She sobbed.

Adewale recalled how he was kidnapped on a journey he undertook from Ada to Osogbo. He said he was a commercial load carrier (alabaru) for yam flower sellers at Ada market.

He said: “I boarded a vehicle to Osogbo. That is the only thing I remember.”

Mr Atoyebi said Adewale was never insane.

Another victim, Ola Michael, 28, recalled that he was going from Oyo to Owode/Egbado in Ogun State when he was kidnapped on Iwo Road in Ibadan.

“I am a native of Oyo town. I was going to Owode/Egbado. I boarded a bus to Ibadan. They dropped me off under the bridge on Iwo Road. That is the last thing I know,” he said.

One of the female victims whose name could not be ascertained was said to have blood on her body. She, apparently, had a baby, but none was seen with her.

Other missing persons being sought by their relatives include a student of the University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (UNAAB), Odunola Olosunde, 22 (as at the time of her disappearance); Olanrewaju Musa, 30, Nneka Peter, nine; Ramota Nimota, 45, and Odunayo, 22 (as at the time of his disappearance).

Mr Olosunde said Odunola got missing during the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) strike in 2009. He said his daughter, who was studying Agricultural Engineering, went to do a decoration job at a church on Iwo Road in Ibadan. She never returned. The family lives in Apata in the Oyo State capital city.

Families searching for their missing relations besieged the hospital.

But, for most of them, it was like seeking the dead among the living as their hopes were dashed – their relations were not among the rescued victims.

The hospital’s Chief Consultant, Dr Osamor Jonathan, said no fewer than 30 families had visited in search for their missing relations since Sunday morning.

As early as 8:00 am, security guards manning the gate of the hospital as well as members of the staff had begun the battle to control the crowd.

Many came just to catch a glimpse of the rescued victims; others came searching for their loved ones. They were armed with photos of the missing relations, pleading with nurses and other health workers to allow them see the victims being treated at the Emergency Unit.

They were asked to produce police reports, showing details of the missing persons and the dates of their disappearance before being given access to the victims.

Some of them burst into tears on learning that their relations were not among the victims. The situation forced a recall of the memory of their missing relations on them as some visibly fought back tears.

Just like the forest, the hospital became a Mecca of sort, hosting all manner of people eager to satisfy their curiosity.

Jonathan said the victims were responding well to treatment, adding that they may be discharged within 48 hours.

“Among them, two women and a man can respond to conversations appropriately now. We are able to identify their family compounds in Osogbo and Ibadan. Some are still weak and unconscious, but they are being revived through treatment. They are coming out of their stopour and the trauma they went through.

“Five gave their names. Those talking are coherent. They described how they were abducted. Some of them were kidnapped in the course of seeking daily bread.”

The doctor confirmed that one female victim had put to bed twice while in the “forest of horror”.

On caring for the victims, Jonathan said: “Initially, there was some aggressiveness on the part of the victims as they felt threatened. They felt we were part of the kidnap team. But, gradually, we counselled them. We served them food and they later calmed down. They started seeing the humane feeling that they were in a different environment. They are disoriented, in traumatic shock. Some are delusional.”

But, the doctor does not feel comfortable that the victims have taken over the Casualty Unit of the hospital, denying other patients of space.

The hospital invited policemen who stormed the premises in three vans to dislodge the crowds. The crowds have been insulting the nurses continuously, Jonathan said.

He went on: “Some of them were agitated, emotional and curious. But this won’t let the service go on; we have to work. Their presence has disrupted our services and placed much pressure on our resources. We bathed them, brushed for them Monday morning, but they are better now. They did all of that by themselves this morning.”

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