…As Father Speaks for the First Time on Good Citizen Radio Show
SWITZERLAND, MAY 28 – The Good Citizen, a civil society group that promotes the tenets of active citizenship and good neighbourliness in Nigeria has helped in unravelling the mystery surrounding the abduction of Victoria Murray, a 17-year-old school girl, who was found in a remote building in the Badore-Ajah area of Lagos, 3 weeks after she went missing on 1 May, 2019.
When Victoria got missing, The Good Citizen initiative of CSR-in-Action, through its think tank WhatsApp group, played a prominent role in the efforts to spread the word about her disappearance after her father Senan Murray, a veteran journalist and senior manager of Total Plc, informed the world through Channels TV broadcast and social media.
The Group’s administrators designed a flyer with a picture and profile of the missing girl alongside contact details of her father and the police. The volunteers in the group, including renowned activists, Yemisi Ransome-Kuti and Ireti Bakare Yusuf, aka Sisi Oge, shared the flyer extensively. Several media houses, including Today’s Echo, published a story about her disappearance. With the recent spate of kidnappings, ritual killings, and human trafficking, everyone feared for the worst.
In thankfulness for the role the Group played in his daughter’s finding, Murray spoke for the first time on the matter during The Good Citizen’s Friday Radio Show on Inspiration FM 92.3, on 24 May, 2019 which commenced at 8:00 pm. In a highly interesting but heart-rending 30-minute session, Murray narrated to the host and co-ordinator of the Good Citizen initiative, Bekeme Masade-Olowola, how Victoria was abducted and found.
According to Murray, Victoria said she left home for school on 1 May, 2019, for extra mural studies being that it was a public holiday. She got to Sandfill bus stop along Ozumba Mbadiwe and while she was waiting for the bus, two young men walked up to her and started up a conversation.
“They complemented her looks and they said to her that they have the connections to take her abroad and give her a career in Europe and this is exactly what Victoria talks about all the time. So, they were able to connect quickly on that sort of level,“ said Murray.
Victoria followed the two young men and they took her to an isolated house in Ajah. According to Murray, Victoria sought to escape after she had been taken to the house.
“She did tell us that she wanted to get away from the guys. She told us that she was looking for a way to escape but the people that kept her there didn’t stay with her there. So, they locked her up and they come in the daytime and give her food and they go away.”
Two weeks after she had been abducted and the word had spread around, somebody insistently contacted Mr Murray on Facebook and informed him that his daughter had been seen in the company of two men in the Ajah area and to come meet the mysterious tipster. He quickly dashed there with the police to meet the man, but he was nowhere to be found.
The following day, Murray returned with a few people, met the police-shy informer, and upon his lead, they began to search the area and ask questions of people.
“We didn’t even bother driving; we just took a taxi, came down and we were walking down that road, house after house, shop after shop distributing posters and asking people for information.”
Concerned persons in the area connected Murray to a member of the vigilante group in the area. The man promised Murray that his group would help find her daughter.
““He came to me and we had a conversation and they said, “Well, we’ve been told that your daughter is missing, and they said they saw your daughter here. If your daughter is within Ajah area, we will find her.”
On Saturday, May 18, Murray was called to come and pick his daughter.
“I drove out there, my wife, of course, wanted to come with me. She couldn’t wait. So, we drove out to Ajah and we met them at the fuelling station. And she was sitting there with her hands in between her legs. I said Vicky and she said, “Yes, daddy”. She wouldn’t look at me. “Are you okay?” She nodded her head and I was very emotional.”
Mr Murray describes the house in which Victoria was found saying “It was an isolated house sort of thing, not habited. It was at the very edge of an area of Ajah called Badore where human habitation meets the swamp, basically. At the very edge. That is where my daughter was kept, in a place I wouldn’t keep pigs in. The place is wet, and she wasn’t sleeping on anything on the floor at all.”
Although police investigations are ongoing to nab the abductors, Victoria’s abduction has thrown up a lot of questions and it may take some time before the full details of the saga is unravelled.
It is really baffling that she went with her abductors, who promised to take her abroad, without informing her parents.
Sources have revealed that Senan Murray is not Victoria’s biological father but a closely related uncle with home she has lived since infancy. Perhaps this sparked insinuations that she must have willingly followed her abductors because she was being maltreated at home. But Murray said such allegations are unfair and hurtful.
“You know I feel a little pained when people say that to me. It is not the first time I am being told that. It is very hurtful. I can’t tell you how hurtful it is to sit down and listen to people about how much I love or don’t love my kids. They have no idea, sometimes I just want to shout. I don’t know why I am being put on trial by some of the people who say these things, but I understand, people are curious, they want to know. For some people, it is just a story but for me it is an experience. It’s not some external event. This is my story; this is what is happening to me.”
Masade-Olowola, drew from Victoria’s case to sound a note of warning to parents on teaching their children about warding off suspicious-looking strangers.
“Obviously, it is a conversation one needs to keep on having with young people around us,” Masade-Olowola said.
Murray also re-echoed Bekeme’s warning. He said his decision to share his story is his attempt to help teach parents lessons learnt from the experience. He advises parents to always talk to their children, keeping a closer eye on them and their activities.
Arguably, the 21st century child has been so overprotected that they are now living in a cocoon of naivety unlike their parents probably were at the same age. A stern explanation on the dangers of talking to strangers might be the difference between life and death for unsuspecting children as security concerns continue to escalate both within Nigeria and globally.