Thursday, May 26, 2011

Nigerian's corpse awaiting identification in Cotonou morgue

Unidentified Nigerian dies in Cotonou

The body of an unidentified Nigerian man is lying in a morgue in Cotonou, Benin Republic. The Nigerian, suspected to have been heavily drugged, died around 6pm on Monday, 23 May; while receiving treatment at Centre de Sante Al-Faycal (Al-Faycal Health Centre) in the economic capital of Nigeria’s next-door neighbour to the west.

According to Mr. Okezie I. Jonathan, personal assistant to the Cotonou Chapter President of Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation (NIDO), Chief Emmanuel Uko Elendu; nothing, except the battery of a GSM handset, was found on the victim, at the time he was brought to the local NIDO office in Missebo.

Although no form of identification was found on the man, in the course of questioning, he had mentioned Ikeja (Lagos) and Awka Etiti (Anambra State) as his area of residence and home town respectively. However, every other sound the man had uttered while alive was incomprehensible as his speech was incoherent.

A death certificate, signed by the chief medical officer of Centre de Sante Al-Faycal, Dr. Mamoudou Koungoulba, puts the age of the deceased at around 35 years, and that the man; who had been brought to that health centre at 3.50pm, gave up the ghost by 6.52pm.

A memo to Benin Republic’s Ministre de la  Sante Publique (Ministry of Public Health) by Al-Faycal’s chief medical officer, Mamoudou; indicates the unidentified victim suffered respiratory problems arising from suspected overdose of toxic substances.

The incognito man’s corpse was subsequently deposited at Morgue de l’HOMEL. HOMEL is an acronym from Hopital de la Mere et de l’Enfant, Lagune (Mothers and infants hospital, Lagune) and the mortuary is located in the Tokpa Hoho neighbourhood of Cotonou.

A testimonial that the body was received at that mortuary, signed by one Omer Tchiape, reveals the body was brought there by Mr. Jonathan. The reference number of this case is C/N/NEC/1492/AA/000252/11, going by the morgue’s records.

Meanwhile, in a letter addressed to the Charge d’Affaires, Nigerian Embassy, Cotonou by NIDO, dated 24 May, 2011 and signed by its Assistant General Secretary, Mr. Michael A. Orji; the Nigerian mission was informed, inter alia: “On Monday, 23 May 2011, around 3pm, men of Benin Sapeur Pompier came to our office with a Nigerian (now at large) that they picked an Igbo man who had an accident at La Roche roundabout in Akpakpa. The victim was only able to say he was from Awka Etiti, Anambra State, but he did not speak again.

“In a bid to save his life, our President, Chief Emmanuel Uko Elendu, quickly doled out money and directed his personal assistant to take him (the sick man) to a nearby hospital. The victim was taken to Centre de Sante Al-Faycal, Missebo. We called the Consular Officer of the embassy and notified him of the incident”.

After the victim breathed his last, Nigerian community members arranged to have his photograph taken before the body was deposited at the morgue. NIDO Cotonou members have been circulating the victim’s picture around Missebo Market and Sekandji Motor Garage for possible identification.

The local Nigerian community has also requested advice and financial assistance from the Nigerian Embassy with a view to burying the victim in Cotonou, in the event that no one comes forward to collect the dead man’s remains.

It is worth noting that mysteries shroud the final hours of this victim and the man’s eventual death. For example, if the man had suffered an accident; the local emergency service (Sapeur Pompier) operatives ought to have rushed him to a hospital for immediate medicare, instead of taking him to NIDO office.

In the same vein, respondents who spoke with us, wondered; if truly, any accident occurred at La Roche roundabout: for, no vehicle was mentioned in connection with the unidentified man’s predicament. Moreover, there is usually noticeable police presence at that roundabout; and, since no ID was found on him, how did Sapeur Pompier personnel determine his nationality?

If the man was identified as a Nigerian by the Igbo that accompanied Sapeur Pompier officials to NIDO office, then; why is the other man now at large? Additionally, it is highly unlikely that an Igbo trader would have no telephone; so what happened to this man’s onyenekwu?

Is it possible that his handset could provide some clue to unravelling this tragedy; then, what happened to his GSM set? Many questions in deed; sadly, all efforts to get to the root of this tragedy have thus far only drawn a blank.

Subsequent probes by mauricearchibongtravels confirmed that officials of the Nigerian Embassy in Cotonou had been informed and brief of ongoing developments. In response, the local Nigerian mission had drafted memos to be despatched to Abuja, and letters had also been written to be circulated to relevant police divisional officers, Interpol and so on.

-         By MAURICE ARCHIBONG, just back from Cotonou.

1 comment:

  1. '...In response, the local Nigerian mission had drafted memos to be despatched to Abuja, and letters had also been written to be circulated to relevant police divisional officers, Interpol and so on'
    Wonderful, they are at work... Dispatching memos to Abuja, and Interpol, as if so-called Nigeria have list of its assumed citizens...
    Well, another sad end to another Igbo person, so untimely that one couldn't help shedding tears at the rate of waste of life going on for the Igbos.
    When will the Igbo/Biafrans wake up and claim their right of independence, to have a home safe and free from occupying forces, must we wait till the last man like in 1967?