By Our Reporters

It was a strange day or rather an evil day.  It was a day five families in Enugu State will not forget in a hurry because their lives were irredeemably altered.

On October 3, 2021, five engineers from Enugu State went to work in Ebonyi State and disappeared into thin air. One year after, their whereabouts remain unknown.

The missing engineers are Nelson Onyemeh, 64, an indigene of Okohia, Ihiala Local Government Area of Anambra; Ernest Edeani, 47, from Akpawf, Nkanu East LGA, Enugu State; Ikechukwu Ejiofor, 56, from Odumodu, Umunya, Oyi LGA of Anambra State; Samuel Aneke, 62, an indigene of Awkunanaw, Enugu South LGA, Enugu; and Stanley Ebuka Nwazulum, 33, who hailed from Amawbia South, Anambra State.   

Exactly one year ago, Onyemeh, a director and partner at Nelan Consultants, Enugu, led four other engineers on a routine construction supervision job. The job was the construction of the Ebonyi Ring Road, a $150 million African Development Bank (ADB) project, where Nelan acted as consultants. The project traverses some communities in the state, including Effium, notorious for communal crises.

The five engineers got safely to the site at about 1pm that day. According to Patricia, Onyemeh’s wife, the five engineers “were last heard from at about 3pm on November 3. My husband was to hold a meeting with one Okeh at 3pm on November 3 after the site visit to discuss some accommodation issues. I have not heard or seen my husband till date. In fact, the Toyota Hilux, with registration number, ERR 001 EB, they travelled in also disappeared with them till this moment.”   

The vehicle bore the inscription, Abakaliki Ring Road project, across both sides. Incidentally, a surveyor was supposed to go with the engineers but the vehicle could not take him. So, he drove to the site alone and came back. The whereabouts of the five engineers remain unknown.

The families of the missing engineers have been left confused and distraught. They meet often to reflect on the tragedy that hit them and exchange ideas and information, if any.

Daily Sun met the grieving families last December and emotions ran high. Tears flowed freely even as many were still in shock, not knowing what to make of the situation.

The lamentation of Patricia, a businesswoman, over the disappearance of her husband, tells the story of agony.

The heartbroken woman said: “Since my husband disappeared, life has been unbearable. The entire family is shattered. I’ve not been able to sleep or eat well. In fact, I’ve not been able to function. It has been terrible. When the head of the household is no more there, things can never be the same.” 

Patricia is not alone in this feeling. Four other families are also weeping in the valley of tears. They are united in grief, not knowing whether their breadwinners will ever come back to them. For the five families, life has become a nightmare.

For Mrs. Loveth Edeani, a young mother of four, the disappearance of her 47-year-old husband is too heavy a burden to bear. It left a sour taste in her mouth.

She had told Daily Sun: “I really don’t know how to describe what is happening. Somebody left the house and you are expecting the person to come back only for you to hear that that person is nowhere to be found. I was trying his mobile number and it was switched off. I got his boss’s number (Engr. Nelson) and called him but it was not connecting too. That was how I became apprehensive. So, I started reaching out to other people working in the company and got to know that they were missing.

“The kids and I were thrown into confusion. I don’t pray for such a day to come again. Since then, it’s me and the children. All of them are going to school: two of them are in secondary school and the rest are in primary school. You should understand how it is in Nigeria. The children have been crying, asking after their father. They have been falling sick, from one person to the other.

“It’s by the grace of God that you saw me here. I read the news on the social media that my husband and his colleagues had been buried like rats in the bush. There was no contact with us. They just announced it like that. I’m a teacher and I broke down in the school when I heard the news. They had to call my people to come and pick me. My prayer is that they should do whatever it takes to bring them back. They have been suffering. Can you imagine somebody who left his house for work and hasn’t returned after one month and five days? We don’t know the condition they are in. I don’t understand. I alone cannot cater for the children, considering how the economy is. We’ve been managing all the while, let alone when the other person is not around. Emotionally, I am not even stable right now.”

Indeed, it was the same tale of anguish from all the representatives of the affected families. Stanley Ebuka Nwazulum’s parents painted a pathetic picture as they explained the pain in their hearts. His mother volunteered that her illness had worsened following the disappearance of her son, who is still single.         

Mr. Angus Ejiofor, elder brother to Ikechukwu Ejiofor, said the family had been devastated since he went missing.

“We have been meeting and praying to the Owner of life to spare their lives so that they come back to their families. Those holding them should leave them because they have suffered enough. All the families are in turmoil,” he said.

Mr. Emmanuel Nwabueze Aneke, elder brother to Samuel Aneke, also expressed worry about the development. He said his aged mother was greatly distressed, disclosing the woman had earlier lost three of her 10 children and wouldn’t want to bury another. 

However, there was a flicker of hope of closure in April this year when the police in Abakaliki, the capital of Ebonyi State, announced to the grieving families that the bodies of the missing engineers had been found.

Five bodies were evacuated and deposited at the Teaching hospital, Abakaliki, in April 2023. The families were compelled to pay for the DNA, and samples for the DNA were collected on the June 25, and taken to a lab in the USA.  The results came back on the October 12 negative, showing that the bodies brought by the police were the wrong ones.

Benjamin Ezeagwu, a principal partner in Nelan Consultants, said: “My plea now is for the police to dig deeper and determine what really happened. If they are still alive, they should bring them out and, if dead, they should give us the correct bodies. 

“We have been going through unimaginable amount of trauma all this period. The financial involvement in conducting the DNA was very heavy and getting the wrong bodies from the police has left us more confused and agonising.”

The grieving families are calling on security agents and government to help unravel the mysterious disappearance of their breadwinners. 

Police sources, however, disclosed that the matter was still open.

“Investigation is ongoing. We are still investigating the matter,” a source said.

The post 1 year after, 5 Enugu engineers still missing appeared first on The Sun Nigeria.

Source: news