By CrossRiverWatch Admin
The victims of the April 20, 2017 Calabar viewing center tragedy which saw 8 lives lost and several others receive various degrees of injuries are yet to receive full compensation despite much publicized help given by concerned personalities and corporate bodies.
This is even as the death toll has risen to 9 after an immigration officer, Mr. Ferdinand Anok died Tuesday morning at about 1:00 AM.
CrossRiverWatch findings reveal that contrary to the directive that monies spent by the victims should be returned, none has received a dime with the victims at loss whether the talk was more of hype than concern.
Three of the victims who spoke with this reporter on telephone whose names will not be disclosed told tales of suffering and despair as they are being neglected and not attended to while the NGN1 million Naira donated instantly by Cross River Governor, Benedict Ayade on May 4, 2017 to be given to those who had paid for their treatment with their monies, is allgedly still pending with the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Inyang Asibong and the CMAC of the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital.
“If you see the way we are being treated here. This injuries are not like normal burns, they look like something that ate deep into our skin like a knife was used to cut it open. They rarely even give us antibiotics because we are not a priority to them,” one of the victims said.
He continued: “We are yet to receive any money. The Governor came here and said that all the monies we spent should be returned to us but my brother, since that day till now I have not seen anything. I still buy some things myself. I heard the NEPA people (PHEDC) and the state government gave an open check for our treatment but we are not enjoying it here at all as I still buy certain things myself.”
“My wife and I are no longer working and things are becoming increasingly difficult. She is always here with me, I did not hear that the Governor asked the hospital management to refund the monies we have spent which mine is running into hundreds of thousands.
“Now that you have told me, I will photocopy my receipts and ask either the CNO (Chief Nursing Officer) or the doctors who rarely come to check on us to tell me how to direct my application. I know they said they have paid for our treatment but we are not being treated at all,” said the second victim.
For the third victim who spoke with CrossRiverWatch, he said: “We were asked to photocopy our receipts and I have them here. In fact, I photocopied them since May and till today nothing yet. I don’t know what is happening here again. They attend to us like two or three times a week.
“Sometimes it is so unbearable that the wounds smell so badly yet they will not answer us. See that other guy (talking about the first respondent) they now know him as someone who shouts as he keeps shouting on them when things go badly.”
On May 4, during Mr. Ayade’s visit to the community and the victims at the hospital, he said he had authorized an open check, will donate NGN20 million, build a new viewing center and promised that once he gets clearance from ‘Abuja’ that Mr. Anok cannot be treated in Nigeria, he will be flown abroad.
“I have authorized an open cheque for all the medical bills of those in the hospital. We would build a new viewing center in honor of those who died. We would look for an appropriate spot in the community, a place that is distant from high tension cables. The plaques of the victims would be fully displayed in the viewing center.
“I am donating N20 million; N10 million to the community and another N10 million to the families of the victims,” he said and threatened to sue the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (PHEDC).
On Mr. Anok, Ayade had said that: “For the young immigration officer, whose situation is still critical to handle here in Calabar, I have ordered that they should urgently prepare his visa. I will liaise with the Commissioner of Health with the choice of which country to send him to for treatment. Unless we have information from Abuja that he can be treated here in the country, we have concluded arrangements to have him flown out of the country to save his life.”
When CrossRiverWatch visited the facility on May 25, 2016 after the Europa League Cup final match between Manchester United and Ajax CF football clubs, the moods of the victims was lifted following Manchester United’s victory, and the Government implementation of their decision to fly Mr. Anok Abroad.
Further findings however revealed that Mr. Anok was never flown out of the country which is causing anger among fellow football fans admitted in UCTH.
But in a statement by Christian Ita, the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Ayade, the governor accused the South African hospital where Anok was billed for treatment of frustrating Ayade’s effort to save the victim.
The statement read in part, “Following His Excellency, Governor Ben Ayade’s approval to take one of the victims of the football viewing center tragedy, Mr. Ferdinand Anok abroad for further treatment, the Cross River State Ministry of Health contacted a hospital in South Africa (Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital, Soweto).
“The hospital instructed that the state government should make a deposit before they can process a letter of acceptance for Mr. Anok’s visa approval.
“The state government duly acceded to the request and deposited the required amount. Shockingly, after the payment had been made the hospital management rejected Mr. Anok saying they do not accept foreigners in their facility. A clear case of xenophobia.
“Following this development, the state government communicated with International SOS who in turn linked the government with several specialist hospitals abroad with capacity to manage the degree of burns Mr. Anok suffered and of which hospitals in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and India indicated interest in his management.
“Apollo Hospital, India was the first to send in a letter accepting to manage him. Following this, the government took Mr. Anok to the Indian embassy to get a visa where three days were spent trying to regularise documents due to the peculiarity of the case.
“It was a Herculean task getting him on board the aircraft because of the degree of burns.
“It took almost two months for Mr. Anok’s international passport to be returned from the Indian embassy and in between government was in constant communication with them.
“By the time the visa was ready his case had deteriorated, despite constant optimal specialist care, including multiple surgeries, debridement, fasciotomy and colostomy in UCTH Calabar and General hospital Calabar.
“Doctors were preparing him for fitness to travel before he drifted into a comatose state. Sadly, all attempts to improve his Glasgow Coma Scale proved abortive and he finally passed on.”
CrossRiverWatch has reached the Ministry of Health and the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital for comments.
The incident had received worldwide sympathy and drew the global community to Nyaghasang in Calabar municipal with the Nigerian Senate recently faulting the PHEDC for the tragedy which the PHEDC refused to accept responsibility and pointed out it has also compensated the victims but failed to put a figure on the compensation paid.