UK police have launched a desperate search for a Nigerian student who has been missing for more than a week.
Richard Okorogheye, a 19-year-old student at Oxford Brookes University, hasn’t been seen since he left home in the Ladbroke Grove area of west London on the evening of Monday, March 22, and was last seen boarding a bus.
His mother, Nurse Evidence Joel, said her son, who had been shielding during the pandemic due to having sickle cell disease, had struggled with his online studies.
According to her, Richard left home at about 8.30 pm, saying he was going to meet a friend but left his wallet, jacket, and medication behind.
“All he said to me was ‘mummy; I’m going to see my friend.’ I trusted him; I had no doubt or no reason to ask him further questions,” she said.
Ms.Joel said when she called the police to report Richard missing and was told by a police officer, “if you can’t find your son, how do you expect police officers to find your son for you?.”
She described Richard as her reason for living, adding: “It’s my baby, he’s my treasure, he’s my oxygen.”
The Met Police later said they were searching. Richard’s disappearance was initially graded low-risk because of the many missing people’s reports every day, often involving young people.
A spokesman said the force was “committed to providing the best possible service to families,” ensuring that they are supported by specialist officers and informed of investigative updates as soon as possible.
He added: “Family members should always be treated with respect and dignity by officers, and have confidence that officers will make every effort to investigate the circumstances of the disappearance with a matter of urgency.
“The investigation into the disappearance of Richard Okorogheye remains ongoing. A dedicated family liaison officer is supporting his family while all available resources are being utilized in the search.”
In the last confirmed sighting, Richard was seen boarding the number 23 bus southbound in Ladbroke Grove at 8.44 pm on Monday, March 22.
CCTV footage shows he was wearing all black and had a black satchel-bag with a white Adidas logo worn across his lower back. It is unknown which stop he got off at.
He is known to visit the Westminster and Hammersmith and Fulham areas and officers have increased patrols in the Kensal Road and Ladbroke Grove areas.
In a statement, his mother’s Evidence, Joel said: “Richard, we love you and miss you very much, please can you come home. We aren’t angry at you. We want to know that you’re okay.
“For anyone reading this, we are desperately missing our son. If you know anything or know where he might be, please come forward and speak to the police.”
Detective Chief Inspector Nicki Beecher, from the Met’s Area West Public Protection Unit, said: “Our officers are continuing to work around the clock to locate Richard and bring him home to his worried family.
“We are keen to speak with anyone who may have been around Ladbroke Grove at the time of Richard’s last known sighting as captured above – you might be able to help us trace his next steps.”
“If Richard is safe and well, we ask him to contact us as a matter of urgency so that we can put his family’s minds at ease.”