A worker with Arik Air, Grace Utum, has gone missing after a visit to her lover, Ihuoma Amelogu, who lives in the Ojodu Berger area of Lagos State.
It was learnt that the 29-year-old Cross River State indigene had left her Ikeja office for her lover’s house on January 1, 2016. However, her whereabouts had since been shrouded in mystery.
Grace, a graduate of Accounting, University of Calabar, was said to be working in the hospitality department of Arik. The case was reported at the Ojodu Police Division and Amelogu was reportedly arrested.
It was learnt that a mobile phone and a handbag belonging to the victim were found in his apartment on the day Grace went missing. He was, however, released after police said there was nothing to connect him with the disappearance.
An uncle of the victim, Felix Omini, explained that the family became worried after her mother called one of her telephone lines and a stranger picked the call.
He said, “Her mother called her that night and discovered that it was a stranger that picked the call. The stranger said the phone was missing and its owner had called him and said she was coming for it in company with a man.
“Grace’s mother called her boyfriend, Amelogu, thinking he was the man the stranger was referring to. But he said he had also been trying to reach her without success.”
Omini said he called 32-year-old Amelogu and together they went to report the matter at the police station.
The victim’s father, Obongha Utum, said Grace and Amelogu had been dating for three years and would have been married, but for a problem with their blood compatibility.
He said, “The police said we should talk to the boyfriend because that was where she said she was going, but I don’t know what to think. They are church members and were supposed to have been married; but that became impossible after they discovered their genotypes were not compatible.
“We have also gone to Agbado Crossing in Ogun State, where she lived with a friend. We didn’t meet anybody in the house; everywhere was deserted.”
When contacted, Amelogu said he last communicated with Grace around 3pm on January 1. He explained that efforts to get across to her through her friends had been abortive.
He said, “We were together on December 31, 2015; she slept at my place. She sometimes stayed at my place because her office in Ikeja is closer to my house in Ojodu Berger. She rented an apartment in Agbado Crossing, Ogun State.
“Around 6am on January 1, she said she was going to the office. We always had a family reunion every New Year at my uncle’s place in Ajah, so we planned to meet there.
“I spoke with her around 12 noon. Then around 3pm, when I was at my uncle’s place, we communicated again and I asked if she was still coming. She said she was rounding off at the office and would soon join me.”
The civil engineer said his girlfriend’s line, however, became unreachable around 5pm and despite calling till 7pm, he didn’t get through.
He said her mother called him from Port Harcourt around 10pm to ask if he had seen her daughter.
“Her mother said she called her and a stranger picked it and said the phone was missing. I was surprised because she (Grace) didn’t call me that she had misplaced her phone.
“I decided to call the number myself, but it was unreachable. I kept calling till 2am, when it was switched off,” he added.
It was gathered that Grace’s family contacted a telecommunication company to track her calls, but they were asked to get a court order. Access to her bank accounts were also said to have been blocked.
The Arik Air spokesperson, Adebanji Ola, confirmed the incident, adding that the company was working with the family and the police to get to the roots of the case.
The Police Public Relations Officer, SP Dolapo Badmos, also confirmed the incident, adding that the police arrested Amelogu and later released him.
She said, “Necessary police procedure to be done in the case of the missing person has been done. The boyfriend, who was actually the complainant, was arrested and investigated, but there was nothing to link him with Grace’s disappearance, hence his release. But investigation is ongoing.”