The Residents of Angwan Yashi area of Tudun Wada community in Jos North Local Government Area of Plateau State were shocked over the disappearance of three-year-old Lydia Azatyom from their compound for three days and was later found in a pit in an uncompleted building.
GoldenNewsNg reports that the incident elicited mixed feelings and reactions in the community as people have been expressing all manner of opinions, chief among which revolves around suspicion, mystery, confusion, among others.
Our correspondent gathered that Lydia was playing in the compound with about six other children when she suddenly disappeared. She was in the company of her elder brother and cousins who were on mid-term break from school.
Lydia came from Kwara State to Jos about a month ago with her mother and brother to visit her aunty (her mum’s elder sister) Deborah Moses Izang, who hails from Jos East (Jarawa) but resides in Tudun Wada.
So, as a visitor, people were wondering how she could have disappeared from the compound for three days, and she was said never to have gone out of the compound on her own before.
More confusing for everyone and the victim was the fact that she was found in a pit in an uncompleted building where people defecate and dump refuse, about 400 meters from her aunty’s house. There were injuries on her forehead after she was found, and she was immediately rushed to the hospital for medical attention.
There have been recent cases of kidnapping and disappearance of children in the communities, upon which two suspects were nabbed by members of the community and were almost lynched by angry mob before they were rescued by security operatives.
The two suspects were said to later lead a team of investigators to Taraba State where they recovered two children who they allegedly stole from the community and sold to a buyer for nefarious purposes.
There were still other kids missing in the community who are yet to be accounted for, which was why Lydia’s appearance after three days elicited reactions from the residents.
The house where the incident happened is situated in a densely populated area in Tudun Wada. It has a school adjacent, a hairdressing salon in front, several shops and many houses around.
Hence, it’s not an isolated or quiet kind of place for such an incident to occur in broad daylight without people’s notice.
Our correspondent who visited the house gathered that after Lydia’s aunty left them playing in the compound, she went inside to take a rest and instructed the children not to go out of the compound.
The children continued playing, and Lydia also suggested/gestured that she was going inside the room, and nobody saw her again thereafter.
Lydia’s aunty who hosted her and her mum and brother narrated the incident to our correspondent, as her mother was said to be in Lamingo area of Jos as at the time of visit.
The little girl doesn’t appear to have a sense of what actually happened to her as she could not speak or say anything about it other than just staring at people, shaking hands with anyone who stretches a hand towards her or eating anything given to her.
Her inability to speak is the reason why her disappearance and appearance after three day remains a mystery.
Search for Lydia
Immediately Lydia’s aunty woke up and discovered Lydia was missing, she asked the other children and they said they thought she went inside the room.
Everywhere was searched and Lydia was nowhere to be found. A proper alarm was then raised and search parties in the community rose up to the occasion.
According to Lydia’s aunty, Deborah Izang, they went to PRTV, FM stations and Redeem Church to announce that Lydia was missing, and for three days, they kept searching for her without success. She also said they reported to the A Police Division in Jos.
“On the third day of her disappearance, I was told that we should consult a man who has some kind of powers of locating missing children/people. It was while on my way there that my husband called me that Lydia has been found in a pit in an uncompleted building where people go to defecate and dump refuse.
“At about 10am in the morning, a boy had gone there to defecate and then heard movement in the pit. He then looked into the pit and saw her. He was initially afraid and confused, but afterwards rushed out to raise an alarm and people rushed there.
“The people who came concluded that she must be the missing girl the community has been on the look out for. The boy then went into the pit and pulled Lydia out, and the others who gathered around the pit assisted him from outside.
“There were big stones in the pit, and we think the injury on her forehead must have resulted from the stones or something. She was also very weak after she was brought out from the pit and her right hand was not functioning well.
“We then rushed her to Plateau Hospital where she was treated. Her recovery was rapid, thus making her to be discharged soon. She is now playing in the house with the other kids as usual,” she said.
Mysterious discovery after 3 days
Mrs Izang suggested that Lydia must have been lured from the compound by someone monitoring the house and then taken elsewhere for an evil/nefarious reason before being dumped in the pit.
She said Lydia was probably taken away for ritual purposes or something similar, and maybe something went wrong and they decided to dump her in the pit.
She said most people in the community agree with her assertion, adding that what however beats her imagination was why she was dumped in the pit rather than where she could easily be found.
On the other hand, she said, as Lydia did not suit their purpose, they decided to dump her in that pit to die, and probably pelted her with the stones found in the pits, but she miraculously survived.
Again, she opined that maybe the preference of that uncompleted building was because it was somehow lonelier than other parts of the area, adding that she might not have been dropped in the pit the very day she got missing, but probably some hours before she was found.
This according to her is because if she was in that pit for three days she wouldn’t have survived without food or water as well as the harsh Jos cold and other harmful things prevalent in such a place.
She said the police have promised to investigate the matter.
A member of the community, Solomon Jan Yilzakka, concurred with Deborah Izang that there was something unnatural with the incident.
He argued that considering the distance of the pit to the house, the girl couldn’t have gone there on her own, which is not even by a main road side, and then just fall into the pit and remained there for three days only to be found alive.
Yilzakka said such an incident has never happened in the area before and people cannot explain exactly what happened to the girl.
He described the incident as unfortunate and said they hoped that such would not occur in the area again, adding that many people believe that there is much more to the incident than is currently known to them.
Note of caution
Even though there are still little details on Lydia’s disappearance and how she got into the pit and was found alive three days later, a note of caution is already being sounded to parents to intensify care on their children and make deliberate effort to monitor their movement within and outside the compounds.
Markvreng Dandiyip Kumchi, who is also a resident of Tudun Wada, said while they are still yet to unravel the mystery behind the incident, parents should keep a close watch on their children, especially now that such incidents are emerging in the community.
He alleged that with the forthcoming elections fast approaching, cases of disappearance of people for rituals, abduction for ransom and other criminal activities are becoming rampant all over.
He called on security agents to intensify efforts in curbing criminal activities, and urged residents to report suspicious persons or movement of persons with clandestine motives to the security agents.
The youth leader of Tudun Wada, Kefas Mwanret Dagin, commended the people’s support and corporation to ensure that Lydia was found. He urged them to continue such good neighbourliness and always be each other’s keeper for the safety and progress of the community.
“My sincere advice is for parents and guardians to be more conscious of their environment and be very observant of where the kids are playing and where they send them to buy items. We’re in the ember months when nefarious activities of criminals are on the rise. For our communities to be more secured, the security agencies, traditional rulers, community youth leaders, stakeholders and parents must all be involved,” he added.
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