Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Search on for relations of dying Nigerian in Cotonou

Search on for relations of dying Nigerian in Cotonou

A Nigerian man, said to be in his mid-50s, is lying critically ill at a private hospital in Cotonou, Benin Republic. The hospital, Polyclinique de l’Amitie aka Un Bon Samaritain, stands near Cotonou’s Friendship Stadium (Stade de l’Amitie) between Vedokoh and Godomey.
Pic 1.
Although neither the name of his village nor local government area is known, examination of his admission paper to this hospital revealed the patient’s name is Mr. Clement Asukwo and that he resides in the Vedokoh neighbourhood of Benin’s economic capital.

Nurses at Polyclinique de l’Amitie said, when the man was brought in last Saturday, February 12, 2012; he could still speak, which is how they got his name. But, by the next day, Sunday, February 13, the man lapsed into a coma.

Reliable sources told mauricearchibongtravels that medics at the hospital had recommended the patient’s transfer to government-owned CENASU, a properly equipped specialist hospital, where he was sure to receive proper care; unfortunately, the inability to locate a relation to sign relevant documents for the man’s admission to CENASU has made his relocation impossible.

Since none of the man’s relations could be found, another Nigerian (names withheld), who was called to assist the patient, sought out Mr. Okezie Jonathan, a former Personal Assistant to the immediate-past President of Cotonou Chapter of Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation (NIDO), Chief Uko Elendu. Having been contacted, Mr. Jonathan succeeded in reaching Mr. Kufre Udofia, Chairman of Akwa Ibom/Cross River States community in Cotonou.

However, after being briefed and upon visiting the sick man in what may have turned out to be his death-bed by now; Mr. Udofia said he would not sign any paper. He said he was not sure the man was a member of his community as no such person ever turned up at the towns’ union meeting. Udofia said a search of the community’s members’ register did not reveal any Clement Asukwo and he had no way of knowing, if truly Asukwo was his clan’s man since the patient could not speak.
Pic 2.

It is possible that the fear of having a corpse with no known kith or kin as well as state of origin on one’s hands and the financial implication of funding a burial may have made Udofia wary of putting pen to paper. In fact, Udofia appeared crossed, when it came to light through contacts with the patient’s neighbours, that; Asukwo, who has been living in Cotonou for 25 years never bothered to interact with anyone from his Akwa Ibom/Cross River homestead.

Consequently, calls were made to some official of Nigerian Embassy Cotonou. But, since it was past 9pm already on that Sunday night, when the telephone conversation took place it was doubtful much could be achieved. At the end of the day, we had to leave Polyclinique de l’Amitie about 10.30pm since the patient could not be moved to CENASU. As things stand, none of his relations has been found and the man’s fate hangs in the balance.

After countless phone calls to numbers found in the patient’s handset, mauricearchibongtravels eventually spoke to one person, who claimed to know him. This contact gave her name as Mary Clement and actually addressed herself as the man’s daughter. Although she would not disclose her address, Mary said she lives in Ogun State with her nuclear family. When asked her father’s home-town and local government area in Nigeria, Mary somewhat casually revealed that she had no idea. Mary is the only child Asukwo sired, but he never told his daughter where he hailed from.

Mary currently lives in Ogun State, where her father met her Yoruba-born mother; and, said she is 23 years old. When asked the last time she saw her dad, Mary said this was in 2010. As to where they met, Mary, who spoke with Travels in fluent Yoruba, told us that it was in Cotonou, when she went to visit her father.

To ascertain the veracity of her statement, we asked her the name of the Cotonou neighbourhood, her Clement Asukwo lives. “It was at his residence in an area called Vedokoh in Cotonou”, she replied. But, when finally told of the patient’s plight; she sounded ill-perturbed.

During our latest visit to Polyclinique de l’Amitie, we found Asukwo motionless and unconcious in bed. Though still alive, his breathing was staccato. Insiders, who spoke on condition of anonymity, revealed the patient’s chance of survival is dim because he has been unconcious for four days and had not had any meal since.

1. Asukwo Clement.
 2. Asukwo Clement in bed. PHOTOS: MAURICE ARCHIBONG

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