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She was barely 15 years old in 2009 when she left Akure, the Ondo State capital, where she lived with her family members.
Funbi Ige came to live with one of her elder sisters’ family friends as a house help. She had been assured that she would be sent to school and well taken care of.
But less than two years after she arrived in Lagos, she went missing, a development that has led to a feud between her sister, Bisola, and the woman she had gone to live with in Lagos, Bunmi Ademosun.
Five years after, Funbi’s whereabouts is still unknown, while the altercation continues.
Bisola, while relaying the story to Saturday PUNCH, alleged that her sister had been sold to kidnappers by her mistress.
Our correspondents learnt that sometime in 2011, Funbi called to inform her sister that she had been kidnapped and sold off like a mere commodity and that she might not be reachable again.
“Truly since then, she has not been reachable. I don’t know what happened to my sister,” she lamented.
But on her part, Ademosun, who grudgingly responded to the questions posed by Saturday PUNCH on the telephone, said it was not true that Funbi was sold. She said the girl had been married off. She said the girl willingly followed her “husband” to Osogbo.
However, Bisola, in the emotion-laden discussion with one of our correspondents in Akure, the Ondo State capital, narrated how it all started, saying sometime in 2009, her father approached her that his sister and wife to one of the high chiefs in Akure, identified as Mrs. Kehinde, needed a househelp for her step-daughter, Ademosun, in Lagos.
She said, “My father said his sister assured him that Funbi would be enrolled in school in Lagos. So we all agreed that Funbi should follow her (Ademosun) to Lagos. After a year, my father went to check on her at the woman’s house in Lagos, he saw her hale and hearty.
“A year after, we were told Funbi was missing. We learnt Mrs. Ademosun reported to her mother (Mrs. Adedipe) that she could not find the girl in the house again. When I got that information, I called Mrs. Ademosun on the telephone but she denied it. She told me that my sister was not missing but that she was in Osogbo where she had got married. I was shocked because she never told us anything like that before then.”
Bisola said sometime later, she was shocked when Ademosun called her to congratulate her that her “sister had been delivered of her second child in her husband’s house in Osogbo.”
“She asked me to come and see her if I wanted to see my sister, so I went to her father at the palace to inform him what her daughter told me. But he warned me not to go that he couldn’t guarantee my safety,” she added.
Fighting back tears, Bisola said sometime in 2011, Funbi called her on the phone, crying that Mrs. Ademosun had sold her to a kidnapper. “She said she was at an area called Somorika. I don’t know where that is. She said I should be praying for her that if she was not killed within seven days at that time, that means she would survive it and come out of the den one day.
“I asked her to give me 10 minutes to go and see Ademosun’s father, the late Chief Adedipe, maybe he could speak with her, but when I got there, he was on the hospital bed, and when I called the number she used to call me, it was not going through again. I tried several times, but it never went through. Chief told me he would find solution to the issue once he was discharged from the hospital, but that did not happen.”
Desperate to see her sister again, Bisola said after Adedipe’s death, she and other family members went to complain at the Ondo State police headquarters, after which Ademosun’s step-mother was arrested, a development that forced Ademosun to appear.
Bisola said after the case was tossed back and forth, the woman was released by the police. But shortly after, Bisola said Ademosun got her arrested because Ademosun told the police she was threatening to kill her. Soon after she came out of detention, Bisola ran to a human rights organisation, Touch-A-Heart Foundation, for help.
She said, “She brought policemen from Abuja headquarters to arrest me on the grounds that I was threatening to kill her. I was detained for seven days, not minding that I was pregnant. After everything, the police asked us to go home that they would do everything possible to free the girl but up till now, nothing has been done.
“A policeman was assisting us with the case but at a point, he stopped, saying he had to stop because he had been issued query twice over the matter. When we sought spiritual help, we were told that my sister was still alive but in bondage.”
Bisola, in tears, said she had been living under the fear of Ademosun, whom she said had been harassing her with the police. “All that matters to me now is how to locate my sister again.”
Meanwhile, the founder, Touch-A-Heart, Mrs. Favour Benson has taken up the matter up, described the incident as unfortunate. A staff of the foundation, Emma Eze, told one of our correspondents that they received a distress call from Bisola sometime ago, lamenting about how her sister had gone missing with no one willing to help.
Ademosun, while responding, told Saturday PUNCH on the phone that she had nothing to say about the issue, saying the police hierarchy was involved when the incident happened. “Even the office of the Inspector-General of Police was aware of the case, so I don’t have anything to tell you,” she added.
The Police Public Relations Officer, Ondo State Command, Femi Joseph, said he would look into the status of the case and give our correspondent a feedback. He had yet to do so as of press time.