I was treated unjustly by policemen - Father of sick baby cries out

Can you remember him? Monday Agoboye, who held a day sit-in with his sick baby boy at the entrance to the Rivers Government House has come out to speak on how he was treated unjustly by officers of the law just because he sought help from the state government.

 I was treated unjustly by policemen - Father of sick baby cries out

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I have a one-year, five months old baby, Beniah, who is very sick. He has not started walking, he just lies down. If we make him sit, he feels pains. We make sure we lay him down so that he will not be stressed.

When he was born, my wife used to take him to hospital. Two months later, we took him to Braithwaite Memorial Specialist Hospital on November 15, 2017; that was when we noticed an illness. The doctor told the nurses not to tell my wife anything. They later called me to explain the problem with my child. They told me to take him to the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital.

After we did the ECO and other scans, the results showed that the child has multiple holes in his heart; not one or two, but multiple holes. The hole in the middle of his heart, according to the doctor, sustains him and his heart did not form completely. As a result, it is blocking some blood to flow normally, causing him to struggle for breath and making his heart to enlarge.

I tried to see what I could do but I couldn’t bear it alone. I tried to get people close to the governor of Rivers State but no success. They said that I should write to the governor through the health commissioner. That I did; I also met the senator representing Rivers East, Senator George Sekibo, who they said would help me.

I even met the former Secretary to the State Government, Abiye Sekibo, who served during former governor Peter Odili’s tenure. All of them are aware of this issue, but no help. When I took my sick child to Senator George Sekibo’s house, he said he could not face the sight of the child because he was terribly sick and asked why I had to bring him outside at that time. I told him that if I had come alone, he would think that I was only looking for money. That was why I had to bring him along. He went in and sent someone to give me N50,000.

I have met local government chairmen, councillors and House of Assembly members, some of them even warned me not to send them video clips of my sick child again. I went to different churches for assistance and some of them gave me N10, 000, others N20, 000, telling me that that was what they could offer. I later went to the Government House on Thursday because I did not have a dime with me. I just took the risk to take him there.

I have expended the money given me on drugs to sustain my baby. The day I went to Government House, I wanted to explain my situation to the governor because I had written to him without a response. I went to the Niger Delta Development Commission to seek help and also met with the governorship candidate of the Accord Party, Dumo Lulu-Briggs, and he gave $100. I met him on Psychiatric Road in Port Harcourt when he went for a church programme. I thought I would see the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, that day but I met with Lulu-Briggs instead. I even went to Lulu Briggs Foundation where they referred me to the Kanu Heart Foundation.

The doctor advised that the child be admitted and that doctors were coming from Italy to Nigeria and that they could treat the boy free of charge. But when we went to Enugu State to see the Italian doctors, they told us that they could not treat such a case and advised that we take the child abroad. A children’s heart specialist at the hospital in Enugu gave us an e-mail address of a doctor abroad for the treatment. She said we need to take the child abroad and gave us an estimate of N15m. The N15m includes logistics and travel fares. A doctor advised that the condition of the baby requires oxygen to carry the child to wherever we are going when we are travelling to.

I am a furniture man. I make upholstery, chairs, beds wardrobes and others. But currently, because of the situation of my child, I can no longer pay my other children’s school fees. Even where I live is no longer suitable for my sick child because the doctor advised that the child should not stay in a stuffy environment.

I took my child to the place naked so that people could see him. I earlier placed a banner on the monorail pillars since last year, but the response I got was low. If the response was good enough, I would not have taken him out. Everyone I met told me that it was only the government that could help me, and that individuals cannot do it. That was why I took him there.

When I got there, the security men (there) initially sympathised with me, but they said there was an order that I should leave the premises. I told them about my situation and asked why they were telling me to leave. They dragged the child away from me, dropped him on the ground and carried me away from the gate and threw me far off the gate, near the roundabout, close to the water fountain. The video is on the Internet. I sat there for close to two hours and when the security men saw that people were coming there to ask me questions about my baby’s situation and were snapping and videoing me (and I think then the governor wanted to go out for a campaign); the security operatives came where I was and dragged me into a Hilux pick-up truck, about 10 of them, beat me up, dragged my child and nearly broke his arm.

They carried me inside the vehicle and continued beating me. I still feel the pains. When they realised that people were still watching and taking pictures, they released me and left me there until someone came and gave me a stipend to take the child to the hospital. The hospital even advised that the child be admitted, but we told them that we didn’t have enough money to pay.

We have not got any response from the Rivers State Government, but other persons have been calling me all over the world – from South Africa, Cote d’Ivoire, Asia, Canada and Europe. They are trying to verify whether I’m real. People are video-calling me and when I am with my baby, I show them so that they can confirm that it is a real person they are talking to. Someone also opened a GoFundMe account for me to raise money for my baby’s treatment.

My wife, Ngwerefa, who is from Bayelsa State, stays at home and I don’t want to bother her because the pressure is too much. She does not sleep; we keep vigil every night. She gives the child his drugs every eight hours and because of this, she is awake always. If she fails to give him his drugs as and when due, his heart condition might deteriorate. I pray he doesn’t die.

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