The family of a four-year-old girl, Aisha Taiwo, has become distraught after she went missing during the monthly thanksgiving service at the national headquarters of the Redeemed Christian Church of God in Ebute Meta, Lagos.
PUNCH Metro gathered that Aisha and her nine-year-old brother, Malik, accompanied their 60-year-old blind grandma to the church.
According to Aisha’s uncle, Abdulwasiu Esuola, the church had a combined thanksgiving service in the main auditorium.
The four-year-year old reportedly went missing when the children were called out for special prayers.
Efforts by the family to find her have not yielded any result.
Esuola said, “Aisha’s mother is my sister and she usually comes with her children to visit their grandma every weekend. Due to grandma’s visual impairment, it is only Aisha’s brother who usually follows her to the church. On Sunday, Aisha decided to follow them to the church because her mother, who worships at a different church, was attending the burial rites of a family member.
“Children usually worship at a different hall, but being a thanksgiving Sunday, the RCCG had a joint service in the main auditorium. When the children were invited to the altar for a special prayer, Aisha and her brother held each others’ hands but they got separated while returning to their seats and when her brother returned to where they were seating and couldn’t find her, he raised the alarm.”
The Oyo State indigene expressed disappointment in the church for not having closed circuit cameras on the premises.
According to him, officers at the Denton Police Station, Ebute Meta, and the Lagos office of the Inspector-General of Police’s Intelligence Response Team said it would be extremely difficult to investigate the incident without CCTV footage.
Esuola said, “I was informed of the incident about 40 minutes after she was declared missing in the church and I immediately went to the church to request the CCTV footage of the premises. To my surprise, I was told that no CCTV camera was installed on the premises. All they had was only their media coverage which showed only the altar; there is nothing exclusive that the church has as a security measure.
“On Monday, I had gone to the police station to lodge a complaint and I went to the Lagos office of IRT and I was able to get a police report. We’ve been doing all we can as a family to find my niece and we expect that the church will also be swift in its response by setting up a committee on this unusual situation.
“I went to the church on Tuesday and a service was going on. I approached one of the pastors and I told him my grievances. While I was making my point, he said he wanted to mount the pulpit and I suggested that I should come back to see him at 2pm.
“Rather than tell me the time that would be convenient for him to see me, he said angrily that how could I just assume that he would be free anytime I chose to see him. The least he could do was to show some level of empathy.”
Esuola, who described Aisha as a quiet child and someone who does not mix freely, added that the complacency of the church in the matter was disheartening.
When the state Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Bala Elkana, was contacted, he said efforts were ongoing to find the girl.
“The girl is actually missing. She went to the church with her grandma and we are still searching for her,” he stated.
However, the Head of Media and Public Relations, RCCG, Pastor Olaitan Olubiyi, said the church was doing all in its power to find the girl.
Olubiyi stated, “The girl and one other young person followed an old woman to the church. The woman is visually impaired and nobody in the church knew that anything had happened until much later in the evening. An alarm was raised immediately and the premises of the church were thoroughly checked.
“The pastor at the headquarters parish told me that between that Sunday and now, they had gone to the police station around to make a complaint; they have made fliers and they have gone to some radio stations. Together with the family, they are still working on finding the girl.” [PUNCH]