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Human Rights

Deaf student cries out over missing N4.4 million from Governor Ambode

– became deaf inside examination hall

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Anthony Offor
Anthony Offor was a final year student of Political Science at the University of Lagos.

He came down with a mysterious illness inside the examination hall only to become deaf within minutes. Anthony Offor was a final year student of Political Science at the University of Lagos.

With the death of his father shortly after, he was faced with a bleak future as no employer would want to hire him. Determined to claw his way out of a terrifying situation, Offor wrote a letter, appealing to the Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, for help.

Against all odds, the governor responded and took pity on him, approving N4-4 million for what is called cochlea implant surgery.

That was in June 2017. Once the deaf student was told his cheque was ready but the money has remained elusive with the deaf young man suffering a double jeopardy as health ministry officials endlessly toss him from one desk to another.

When SATELLITE TIMES located him, Anthony Offor was literally at his wits end inside a Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) Specialist hospital in Lagos where, communicating only by writing, he made it clear he has been robbed.

My hearing loss

“My predicament started in 2010 while I was writing my final exams at the University of Lagos. I was feeling feverish on campus and at first dismissed it as the normal malaria. It intensified inside the examination hall.

I could see people were talking because their lips were moving but I could not hear a word. Same too with the doctors and nurses who were asking me questions. They could only communicate with me through writing. It was a frightening experience for me.

I got a referral to an ENT hospital where the specialists after examining me said I required to undergo a surgery known as cochlea implant.

At the time in 2010, the cost of the surgery and implant was put at slightly above N3 million. My father could not afford it immediately but promised to run around for it. But about two months after, precisely on November 6, 2010, he died in an auto crash.

That put paid to the surgery. After the death of my father, I forced myself to return to school because I hadn’t written all my last semester papers when that illness struck me. But I could no longer fit into the school system because I could not hear what the lecturers were saying. I however managed to take the last papers and graduated with a Second Class Upper Division.

Tales of woes

“After school, I have faced heart breaking discriminations which persons with hearing loss are made to go through in our society. It has been impossible to find any government ministry, agency or parastatal that is willing to employ someone with hearing loss. Even with my BSC qualification., it has become impossible to secure a job anywhere; not the Army, Police, Customs, among many others. Although I am deaf, my speech is not affected. I can speak and even sing.”

Petition to the governor

A copy of the petition he sent to Governor Ambode was made available to SATELLITE TIMES. It was dated October 17, 2016. In it, Offor appealed to the governor for medical assistance to pay for his surgery.

On November 29, 2016, the governor sent a reply in which he directed the Commissioner for Health, Jide Idris to act on Offor’s matter immediately.

On February 18, 2017 he got a message from the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) to meet a team of ENT doctors on the orders of the state government.

Upon getting to LASUTH, he was shown a letter written by the Permanent Secretary, Lagos State Ministry of Health, to the Chief Medical Director, Prof. Wale Oke, to convene a medical board and summon him for examination to determine the actual situation in his case and to know the remedy suitable for the type of hearing loss.

In the letter, they were further directed that the findings and recommendation of the board be submitted to the office of the Permanent Secretary, to facilitate the processing of the payment in the ministry.

Offor was told that LASUTH did not have some of the equipment required to carry out the necessary tests on him, like the Radiology test, Audiology test, and CT Scan.

He was given a request form and was told to go to Mecure Diagnostics Centre located at Oshodi to undergo the three tests and return to LASUTH with the results.  He however had to bear the cost of the tests including the administrative cost which totalled about N55, 000.

After so much effort he was able to do all the three tests and returned to LASUTH with the results, together with four X-ray films, one compact disc (the CT scan).

Once again, the panel of LASUTH doctors converged, and this time the Chief Medical Director of LASUTH, Prof. Wale Oke, was in attendance. The medical board quickly came out with their findings and recommendations, that he required a cochlea implant surgery.

Anthony Offor’s medical result

The doctors however took turns in examining his other organs with their gadgets and equally certified him fit and physically healthy for the surgery, and also wrote a referral, ratifying his admission into the relevant clinic; B.S.A. Hearing and Speech Centre, located at 49, Oluwaleyimu Street, off Allen Avenue Ikeja Lagos.

The corrective surgery and implant according to the medical board would cost about N4.4million and the bill was equally forwarded to the office of the Permanent Secretary by the board. An anonymous donor is said to have last year made a mandatory non-refundable deposit of N400,000 to the hospital.

SATELLITE TIMES confirmed that after the medical board had on June 19, 2017 sent their report and recommendations, duly signed by the Chief Medical Director, to the Permanent Secretary as demanded, Anthony Offor was advised to go to the Health Ministry to collect the cheque and proceed to B.S.A Centre for the surgery.

Anthony went to the Health Ministry in high spirit to collect the cheque but to his greatest bewilderment he met with bureaucratic bottlenecks.

Letter of protest by Anthony to the Governor of Lagos

Suddenly, nobody seemed to know where his file is, nobody appeared to have seen the cheque and nobody could be definitive on the way forward. Eighteen months after the ear patient is still in a lurch with the kind governor believing the surgery had long been carried out.

SATELLITE TIMES’ attempts to find out what happened to the N4.4 million took this reporter to the Lagos state Ministry of Health Alausa Ikeja; particularly to the Special Project Unit, Room 516.  The ministry officials there all played dumb, with one later saying that the senior medical officer handling Anthony Offor’s case had gone to represent the Ministry at an event to mark the World Mental Health day.

On a subsequent visit, the Director of Public Affairs, Mrs Adeola Salako, said although her office received a brief in respect of SATELLITE TIMES’ enquiry, she was still looking into the matter for updates. She added that as far as the Ministry is concerned, it was not possible for the funds to be diverted or misappropriated because if money had been made available to Anthony Offor surgery, the cheque would be in his name.

Human Rights

Amnesty confirms 60 killed by Boko Haram in Rann

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The false-colour image above highlights the near-infrared band. Healthy vegetation appears red while unhealthy, or burned, areas appear black or brown. On 30 January 2019, hundreds of structures appear heavily burned. Environmental sensors remotely detected fires in the area on 28 and 29 January 2019.

At least 60 people were killed following the 28 January devastating Boko Haram attack on Rann, a border town in Borno state, northeast Nigeria, Amnesty International has confirmed.

The organization also analyzed satellite imagery which shows hundreds of burned structures in the town. Many of the destroyed structures only date back to 2017, suggesting they were shelters for internally displaced people who came to Rann seeking protection.

“We have now confirmed that this week’s attack on Rann was the deadliest yet by Boko Haram, killing at least 60 people. Using satellite imagery we have also been able to confirm the mass burning of structures as Boko Haram unleashed a massive assault on Rann, most of which is now destroyed,” said Osai Ojigho, Director of Amnesty International Nigeria.

Satellite imagery which shows hundreds of burned structures in the town

“This attack on civilians who have already been displaced by the bloody conflict may amount to possible war crime, and those responsible must be brought to justice. Disturbingly, witnesses told us that Nigerian soldiers abandoned their posts the day before the attack, demonstrating the authorities’ utter failure to protect civilians.”

Inadequate security

Alleged withdrawal of troops, triggered a massive exodus of civilians to Cameroon, as fear spread that Boko Haram would take advantage and attack the town. At around 9am on 28 January, a group of Boko Haram fighters arrived on motorcycles. They set houses ablaze and killed those left behind. They also chased after those who attempted to escape and killed some people outside the town.  Eleven bodies were found within Rann town, and 49 bodies were found outside.

The false-colour image above highlights the near-infrared band. Healthy vegetation appears red while unhealthy, or burned, areas appear black or brown. A closer look at one burned area on 30 January 2019 shows the severity of the damage. Many of the structures are new since 2017 suggesting they are shelters for IDPs living in the town.

The false-colour image above highlights the near-infrared band. Healthy vegetation appears red while unhealthy, or burned, areas appear black or brown. A closer look at one burned area on 30 January 2019 shows the severity of the damage. Many of the structures are new since 2017 suggesting they are shelters for IDPs living in the town.

Amnesty International was informed that about 50 people have not been accounted for. Those who took part in the burial explained what they saw.

According to an eyewitness: “Ten of us [Civilian Joint Task Force] came from Cameroon to Rann for the burial. When we arrived, we found and buried 11 corpses within the town, but the soldiers told us that they buried several others yesterday [30 January] who had decayed. Outside the town, we recovered and buried 49 dead bodies all with gunshot wounds.”

Aid agencies have reported that some 30,000 civilians have fled for the border with Cameroon in recent days, joining a further 9,000 who fled Boko Haram’s previous attack on Rann on 14 January.

Satellite evidence of mass burning

Amnesty International analyzed satellite images from 30 January 2019 showing hundreds of structures burned in the east, south and southeast of Rann. Environmental sensors detected fires in the area on 28 and 29 January.

The false-colour image above highlights the near-infrared band. Healthy vegetation appears red while unhealthy, or burned, areas appear black or brown. On 30 January 2019, hundreds of structures appear heavily burned. Environmental sensors remotely detected fires in the area on 28 and 29 January 2019.

In the 14 January attack, Boko Haram burned well over 100 structures in other areas of Rann. These two recent attacks have left most of the town heavily damaged or destroyed.

Amnesty International is calling on Nigerian authorities to investigate the alleged withdrawal of security forces of the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) from Rann, which may have left tens of thousands of civilians exposed to this latest deadly attack.

“Boko Haram has consistently and deliberately targeted civilians in Rann, which makes the Nigerian authorities failure to protect people all the more unacceptable,” said Osai Ojigho.

“The authorities on both sides of the border must provide the supplies and safety that these people require. The Cameroonian authorities must also desist from forcing people to return until conditions are safe and they choose to do so voluntarily.”

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Human Rights

Woman slashes 11-year-old housemaid with kitchen knife

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Woman slashes 11-year-old housemaid with kitchen knife

A young girl only identified as Victoria is currently traumatized and in agonizing pain after she was severely inflicted with knife-injuries by her madam (identified as mummy Pemisire), for allegedly stealing milk.

The attention of this reporter was drawn to this case when a Twitter user, Adex Adebukola Crowngold (@AdexAdebukola) shared a gruesome photo of the child with the caption;

“My attention has just been called to this. The madam did this to her housemaid because she was accused of stealing milk.

“She’s in the hospital and the woman arrested. But justice must prevail. Location is at Ibadan.”

Eyewitness account

Speaking to SATELLITE TIMES newspaper, an eyewitness who begged to remain unnamed, gave an account as it happened on Friday, January 11, in Sanyo area, Ibadan.

“The girl ran out of their apartment with blood stains all over her and madam was still chasing her. The little girl said she tore her body with a knife.”

The 11-year-old victim was eventually rescued by concerned neighbours in Sanyo area, and taken to a nurse for first aid treatment before the Police came to get her the next morning.

When asked about the girl’s current condition and who was responsible for her hospital bill, the eyewitness said “I should think she is fine. I don’t know who is handling her bills. The Police took her to Montana hospital, Challenge area in Ibadan.”

Her madam, Pemisire, was however arrested same night of the incident by the Police and taken to a station in Sanyo, Ibadan.

“The madam should still be in the Police custody. That is if they haven’t released her yet, you know Nigerian Police. She hasn’t returned home since that night,” the witness added.

Efforts to reach the Oyo State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Ajisebutu Adekunle via telephone were initially unsuccessful but he later responded with a text saying “the case is currently under investigation. The CP, Abiodun Odude, has directed that the case should be transferred to the state CIID Iyaganku immediately for discreet investigation and prosecution.”

 

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Human Rights

How I was drugged and my baby stolen by midwife

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Joy Ebarelen
Joy Ebarelen who was drugged and baby stolen by midwife

All hell broke loose after a woman in labour, recovered from a drugged sleep only to realize that her new born baby had been stolen by the midwife. The woman, Joy Ebarelen, alleged that the midwife, Modebe Christiana (aka Nurse Ada) heavily drugged her in a bid to kill her, steal and sell her baby. The midwife assisted by her husband, a man simply known as Victor, allegedly smuggled her, while still unconscious, back to her home where they left her for dead. Ebarelen however regained consciousness two days after and found herself, not in hospital but at home on her bed.

Speaking with SATELLITE TIMES, Ebarelen said she was almost killed by the duo of Nurse Ada and her husband Victor. She recounts her ordeal from the beginning:

“I considered them Good-Samaritans, that were divinely sent to save me from my financial predicaments; I never knew their target was to kill me, then steal and sell my unborn baby.”

“I was introduced to Nurse Ada by a friend Mrs Oduma who is also my neighbour at Old Agbor Road Ubiaja , Esan South-East Local Government Area, Edo State. When I was Five months pregnant, Oduma asked me if I had registered for antenatal and I said I will soon do that once I have money. She promised to help, that she will take me to a Nurse who is good birth attendant and that she (Oduma) will foot the bill. So when we got there, I saw some pregnant women on the mat in Nurse Ada’s Patent Medicine Store. Someone was bathing a baby, so I didn’t suspect anything and I continued coming for antenatal till my baby was due.”

“In the early hours of Friday 19th October 2018, I started feeling pains around the abdomen; I called the nurse to inform her and she asked me to come straight to her house but that I should come in through the back door. She added that I should not tell anyone where I was going. I took that as a spiritual advice knowing that we live in a wicked world and I do not wish to have a spiritual attack during labour.

I went to Nurse Ada’s house with my three children because there was no one to look after them at home. Now in labour, I recalled she gave me two tablets that put me in severe pains. My phone rang many times but Nurse Ada refused me from picking any calls. I became suspicious. It was not until the third day that she allowed me to call Oduma, the same woman who had introduce me to the Nurse. I told my friend that I have been in labour for two days in Nurse Ada’s house.

“To my shock Oduma told me she was also in labour in another hospital. I was confused because Oduma was never pregnant before and suddenly she too was expecting a baby. Shortly after my phone conversation, Victor, Nurse Ada’s husband, came to give me another two tablets of white drug. Immediately, the nurse went and wore hand gloves to take delivery of my baby even when I was not experiencing any contraction. The pains around my stomach became more severe as Nurse Ada used her hand to burst the water and a few minutes later the baby came out and it was a baby girl. Nurse Ada brought out a piece of wrapper to cover the baby and she handed her to a lady standing by. Mr Victor pinned me down from behind and I started shouting that I was losing strength and thereafter I fainted.”.

When I regained consciousness, I could see Victor was standing over me. He appeared surprised that I was still alive. He went out and came back with an injection in his hand but I had no power to protest as he injected me by force with a drug I do not know the name.

“When I regained consciousness two days after the effect of the drugs, I found myself lying on the bed in my house. I asked my first son (7 years old) where my new born baby and he told me that I did not return home with the baby. Immediately, I put a call to Nurse Ada and demanded for my new born baby, but the Nurse told me that my baby boy was dead and that she had helped me to bury the child. I began to shout as I told her my baby was not dead. I insisted my baby was a girl, not a boy. She continued saying my baby was dead. I must have called her more than 100 times but she stopped picking my calls. Later, I got a call from a man who immediately began to threaten me. He said he was Barrister Lawson and that he was warning me to stop saying that Nurse Ada stole my baby, that he will deal with me if I continue to tarnish his client’s image.

SATELLITE TIMES gathered that determined to recover her missing baby, Ebarelen reported the case to the Ubiaja Division of the Nigerian Police in Edo State. The matter was later transferred to the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID) Benin City While the accused, Nurse Ada had at first denied taking delivery of the child, she later brought the baby girl to the police station but not without coming up with a counter-claim. She accused Ebarelen of of attempting to kill her own baby after birth and that was the reason she decided to take the baby away from her.

With this twist, Ebarelen suddenly found herself as the accused with the Police threatening to put her in detention. The following day at the police station, there was a new accusation waiting for her.

“Nurse Ada and Oduma had told the Police that I sold my baby to them. And because they refused to pay me, I reported the matter to the Police. Like a bad dream, all the policemen started abusing me while taking sides with Nurse Ada and Mrs. Oduma. The police refused to release my child to me saying that I should provide the man that impregnated me and that they will release the child to the father of my baby,” she lamented.

Ebarelen cried as she explained that the father of her new was not the same person who fathered her other three children. She named one Ardo Musa Mohammed, the Sarki Fulani of Ubiaja as the father of the child. She said that every person in the community including Nurse Ada and Oduma were in the know that Ardo had an affair with her that resulted in the pregnancy.

Ebarelen’s lawyer speaks

Barrister Sheriff Okoh, lawyer to Ebarelen, told SATELLITE TIMES that Ardo presented himself at the SCID on the 7th December 2018, but was told that the baby was under the care of Missionary Reverend Sisters. Okoh wondered why an earlier directive by the Commissioner of Police in the State on the 26th of November 2018, to immediately release the baby to her mother was ignored. He also said the SCID is rather asking for a DNA test to confirm the identity of the real father of the baby.

Acting on behalf of Joy Ebarelen and Ardo Musa Mohammed, Sheriff Okoh on December 5th 2018 wrote a petition to the Commissioner of Police demanding the release of the baby within 24 hours. The lawyer threatened court action if his demands were denied.

A copy of petition written on behalf of Joy Ebarelen by Sheriff Okoh

 

‘’We will sue them for the breach of the child fundamental human rights. We are charging the suspect for kidnapping of the child, trafficking and selling of the child. Rumour has it that she (baby) was sold for 700,000 naira. No first-hand information from SCID, the Nurse refused to speak with me and we found out that she is not a qualified nurse. She run delivery centre in her house and a chemist store in the market.” Okoh said.

Speaking further, Okoh alleged that the three accused, Victor, Nurse Ada and Mrs Oduma have secured bail at the SCID in Benin City. He added that an information he got from inside sources revealed that the bail was set at 1.2 million naira (400,000 naira for each person) and now the SCID has allowed the accused to walk freely in the streets of Edo State while the mother cries in pains with no idea of the whereabouts of her baby.

SATELLITE TIMES contacted the SCID Benin City via telephone for official response. The Officer-in-Charge of the case known only as Supreintendent Singto declined comments. She however confirmed that the case was under SCID investigation. Calls to the principal suspects, Nurse Ada and Mrs Oduma failed to connect as their mobiles remained switched off for days.

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