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Mother of Richard Okorogheye calls for public inquiry

Richard Okorogheye

Mother of Richard Okorogheye calls for public inquiry

The mother of 19-year-old Richard Okorogheye has called for a public inquiry into how the police deal with reports of missing black people, after a damning report by the police watchdog.

The Metropolitan police failed the family of two black sisters who disappeared and were later found murdered, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) concluded on Monday.

The Met said it would issue an apology to the family of Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman.

Evidence Joel, whose son Richard was found dead two weeks after he went missing, said an apology had to be the start and more needed to be done to tackle what she sees as a longstanding issue affecting the black community.

Joel, who criticised the watchdog’s decision that no officer should face a disciplinary hearing in the case of the two sisters, said there were “biases in the system when it comes to us”, adding: “If it was someone who was white, I think they would have been treated differently.”

Joel previously has criticised the Met’s handling of her son’s case, claiming her concerns were not “taken seriously” after his disappearance from his home in Ladbroke Grove, west London, in March. His body was later discovered in a lake in Epping Forest, Essex.

She said she was told by the force that Okorogheye, who suffered from sickle cell disease and had been shielding due to the pandemic, was not considered “high risk” until he had been missing for six days.

Two Met staff members have been given misconduct notices over potential failings in the disappearance of Okorogheye.

Mina Smallman, the mother of the murdered sisters, made similar criticisms and said she believed race was a factor as the family’s pleas for help over the weekend her children were missing went unheeded. Their friends found the bodies “after organising their own search party”.

The IOPC said it had looked exhaustively at whether bias was a factor in the case of the two sisters and found it was not.

“The parents had to actually go out and look for their own children. So the question is what’s going on? Why is it not taken seriously when we are reporting our children? Yes, of course they are adults, but it doesn’t matter. They’re missing, they’re missing. They should have taken it very seriously … But at the end of the day, as usual, they’re not very proactive,” Joel said.

She added: “I think more should have been done, not just an apology. Lessons need to be learned so that this sort of thing cannot carry on. It has happened to me, I’m sure it has happened to other parents as well. It needs to stop.”

She called for a public inquiry into the issue of missing black people and believes it should look “into the police”.

A report by the UK Missing Persons Unit published in March found black people were overrepresented in regards to being reported missing.

In England and Wales for the year 2019-20, black people made up 14% of reported missing incidents recorded by police forces, despite making up just 3% of the population. White people accounted for 76%, despite making up 86% of the population.

This disproportionality may be due to London having in general a higher number of missing person reports.

Overall, research by the charity Missing People shows 170,000 people are reported missing to the police every year in the UK. Many will go missing more than once. The vast majority of missing people are found or return within 24 hours. About 2% of children and 5% of adults that go missing are gone for longer than a week.

Families do not have to wait 24 hours before reporting someone missing. Forces such as the Met tell people to call 999 if the missing person is in immediate danger, is a young child or is at risk of harm. But there are frustrations at what some argue is a racial disparity in how different cases are treated.

Missing People launched a study this year on the discrimination faced by black families whose loved ones go missing. Josie Allan, its policy and campaigns manager, said: “Some talk to us about feeling like they weren’t listened to when they first tried to report their loved ones missing and that their concerns were not taken seriously. In some cases, they spoke about assumptions being more likely to be made about their missing person; that the risk wasn’t as high as it was, or in some cases that that person was assumed to be taking part in criminal activity rather than being vulnerable.”

Dominic Norton, who set up the website, said the police were just one part of the problem. He believes support services for mental health and youth centres, which have been drastically cut in the past decade, are better equipped to intervene.

He points to research from Missing People that showed mental health was the No 1 reason why adults went missing. For children, risks around exploitation, including sexual and criminal exploitation, were also a significant concern.

Over 20,000 people signed his petition calling for a public inquiry into the causes surrounding missing black people, but the government rejected it.

“But all these other support services have also been underfunded, which has led to an overreliance on the police,” Norton said. “What I’ve been finding in my conversation with police is when a missing person goes missing, because there’s a sheer caseload, they’re doing more administrative work than investigative work.”


Osun Transport Masterplan to Be Ready Soon-Governor Adeleke

Governor Ademola Adeleke has announced his administration’s plan to release to the public the Osun State Transport Master Plan to facilitate integrated connectivity for the Osun economy.

The Governor made the announcement on Thursday while commissioning the Osun State Computerised Vehicle Inspection Testing Center at Osogbo.

The Governor who narrated a series of ongoing reforms being delivered by his government said “The test center right here is the first of its kind among other interventions of our administration to reposition the State’s Transportation sector

According to the State Governor, “Our government is pursuing reforms across the transport sector. We ensure that Commercial Motorcycle operators across the State are registered under a database with a rider’s jacket and identification card for safety purposes. Mini-buses, popularly known as (Korope) have also been registered and numbered for easy identification and security.

“We have introduced single ticketing to all commercial drivers in the State through the Osun State Transport Management System (OSTMS) to guide against leakage of revenue.

“It is equally my pleasure to inform the public that our administration is working on a Transportation Master plan for Osun state. We are focused on a multimodal plan that will integrate all modes of transportation within the state. It will lay our objectives and strategic agenda for land, air, and water transportation.

“The plan is to regulate, plan, and develop an efficient and well-integrated transport system that will serve the public interest, enhance mobility, and deliver a secure and environmentally friendly Public Transportation System in different areas across Osun.

“The plan is central to our five-point agenda as it focuses on connectivity within and outside the state. Osun is centrally located in the heart of Yorubaland.

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Adeleke speaks on collapse of OAU amphitheatre

Governor Ademola Adeleke of Osun has promised to pay the medical bills of students injured in the Obafemi Awolowo University(OAU), Ile-Ife, Amphitheatre roof collapse.

The affected students are receiving treatment at the University Health Centre and the Teaching Hospital Complex (OAUTHC), Ile-Ife.

Adeleke, who was represented by the Commissioner for Education, Dipo Eluwole, sympathised with the management of the University and parents of the affected students on the unfortunate incident.

This is contained in a statement issued by the Public Relations Officer of the University, Mr Abiodun Olarewaju, in Ile-Ife on Saturday.

The commissioner was conducted round the scene of the incident by the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Simeon Bamire, and other principal officers of the University, and visited the two health facilities where the students are receiving treatment.

He expressed happiness that the affected students are responding to the treatment.

Eluwole lauded the university management for its quick response to the emergency and prompt medical attention given to the students.

Speaking to the four students being treated at the University Health and Medical Centre, the commissioner commended their bravery and wished them quick recovery.

At the Neurological ward of the University Teaching Hospital where two other students are being treated, Eluwole pleaded with their parents to see what happened as a natural occurrence.

He, thereafter, informed the vice chancellor that the Gov. Adeleke pledged to bankroll all medical expenses that may be incurred in the course of the treatment of the students.

Responding, the vice-chancellor thanked the governor for being so kind and loving, stressing that his fatherly role to the students and the good people of Osun is commendable.

A torrential rain on Thursday morning, accompanied with a whirlwind affected a part of the ceiling of the Amphitheatre as it fell off and injured some students.

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Woman burns stepchildren’s hands for eating rice prepared for their father

The Adamawa State Police Command has arrested one Rachel Geoffrey, a 23-year-old woman and resident of Federal Housing Estate, Girei, for allegedly setting fire to the hands of her stepchildren.

The children, Genesis Geoffrey, seven years old: and Idadai Geoffrey, three years old, now have their affected hands bandaged.

The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, SP Suleiman Nguroje, said in a statement that Rachel intentionally inflicted severe physical injuries on her stepchildren.

In the statement released Saturday, the police image maker said the incident occurred on Tuesday, May 14.

He said the children suffered several calculated acts of cruelty and human rights violations from their stepmother.

He explained that the children faced the wrath of the woman over a plate of rice she cooked and kept for her husband.

“The kids, because of hunger, ate their father’s food and that angered her. She then tied their hands with a handkerchief and set fire to them, resulting in the severe injuries they sustained,” Nguroje explained.

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