Couple Who Lost Older Son To NDLEA Officials’ Bullets Battle To Save Second Baby’s Sight

Couple Who Lost Older Son To NDLEA Officials’ Bullets Battle To Save Second Baby’s Sight

Eromonsele, a less than two years old toddler, faces the risk of losing his sight unless urgent steps are taken to fly him abroad for necessary medical attention.

Much as his parents have tried to put behind them the ugly experience of their eldest son’s death from bullets fired by some yet to be identified NDLEA officials, Eromonsele’s painful cries every night evokes an ugly reminder of the tragic incident.

“At times when he cries, you see blood coming out from that particular eye,” said Eromosele’s distraught father, Fidelis, as he fought back tears. “The way they programmed the use of my son’s eye drop is somehow. We must do it every two hours to avoid infection and we must apply it without failing,” he added.

The sleepless nights and huge sums spent on Eromonsele would have mattered less to the distraught parents if they are certain that the solution lies in them. But the solution, according to medical experts, lies in flying him abroad, the US to be precise, for advanced medical care.

“After trying their best, doctors at Federal Medical Centre, Asaba where the two kids were initially rushed to said they would have to refer him to Lagos because the situation of the eye was not one they could handle.

Fidelis said: “We came to Eye Foundation in Lagos and were there for more than one week. The consultant later said because he (Eromosele) is a little child, they did not have the machine to see through the cornea of the affected eye because the damage was much.

“He advised that it would be better for us to take him out of the country. We had to come back to Asaba where another ophthalmologist also said the best thing for us is to fly him out of the country.”

Fidelis recalled that while they were in Lagos, NDLEA officials kept calling, “and I told them we were in Lagos trying to stabilise the boy, because at that point, he was not talking.  I said I would get in touch with them when I got back to Asaba.

“On getting back to Asaba, I called the number that was calling me but it was not reachable. The controller that was there before had been transferred. After that period, they abandoned me.

“When I came back to Asaba, I also tried to communicate it to them that we were back and that Eye Foundation said they could not do it; that the child needed medical attention in the US. But the NDLEA started telling me that they would come today, they would come tomorrow.

“They were doing all that because it is not any of their sons. This is my son. I have to do anything I can at this level to see that I save my little boy.”

Seeing that the NDLEA was not forthcoming, one of Fidelis’ friends stepped in and helped him to do USA visa applications for his family.

He said: “We processed the passports and all that on our own since NDLEA was not responding. I communicated with them to let them know what I was doing and they said they would get back to me.

“The legal officer later said they did not have money. The bill given to me for the treatment in the US was between N60 million and N70 million.

“We contacted a doctor over there who promised to assist. She said the surgery would not be done in her hospital but that she would help us coordinate the system for my son to be taken to a teaching hospital there.

“She said the most important thing was to bring my son there. But the only thing she would not assure me was that she would give me a visa. The NDLEA, at least, can write and stand and help us to coordinate everything in the US.

“I made everything known to the NDLEA and the chairman later called me to condole with me. He said he was currently not in the country but whatever the case, he was coming to Asaba.

“He said he wanted to send me some money but I said on what account are you sending me money? He said no, it was not from NDLEA; that he was sending me the money in his own personal capacity because he saw my son as his own grandson.”

After that period, Fidelis said, there was a break in communication.

Fidelis recalled that when the incident occurred, the Delta State governor and the Secretary to the State Government (SSG) came and said they were going to settle all the bills of which he had paid about 80 per cent.

“Since the governor said he was going to settle all the bills, I stopped going to the NDLEA because I was not hearing from them again.

“At a point, one of the PAs in the governor’s office said I should stop calling because it was NDLEA’s responsibility.

“One of my friends escalated the issue on social media, quoting the governor. After that, the SSG called, saying that he thought we had long been sorted with the money that the governor promised.

said I should go and bring evidence of all the expenses I had made and the ones we were expecting to make. I went and gave everything to him and he said he was very sorry he never knew that the whole incident had not been sorted.

“He said that the governor actually had intention of giving me money to sort out things but because they were very busy, they didn’t know that it had not been sorted. This was between the end of October and early November 2023.”

Continuing, Fidelis said: “He said the governor would need to approve some money for me, including the one I was going to spend overseas and everything concerning the boy; that he was going to take over the responsibility.

“He said they would write a letter to the US Embassy so that they could at least grant us a visa. The SSG wrote a letter, added all the applications I had done so far and sent it to the Abuja embassy of the US.

“He tried his best and also helped me to connect to a doctor in the US to help me out and make the necessary arrangements in the US concerning my son’s condition.

In the process of doing that, he said, “the NDLEA Chairman, Bubba Marwa, came on the 2nd of November to pay a condolence visit to me in my house in Asaba.

“Before then, our lawyer, because we had waited for NDLEA for a very long time, had already sent a petition through the senator representing this constituency, Senator Ned Nwoko, to the Senate.

Before Marwa came, we had to go to court for the civil suit. The government was handling the criminal case.

“When Marwa came, he told me that there was no need for court; that I should tell my family to see how we could take care of my little child so that we would send him to the United States for proper care.

“The NDLEA chairman went on air to say that he would fast track everything that I had been doing so that my son would be taken to the US for proper treatment.

“After he left, I went to meet my family member an told him what he said and the efforts of the SSG, and that we should withdraw the case.

“Later, the SSG told me that since the NDLEA had come into the matter, we should let everybody work together so that the state and the federal governments would not be working at cross purposes.”

embattled father said NDLEA attached a protocol officer to him to start giving them all the necessary information on the document they needed to fly the child and the parents abroad.

“All the documents they needed from both here and Lagos Eye Foundation I submitted to them to expedite action, because we had already got a date.

“When you apply for US visa, they would give you a far date, but because it is a critical case, the government needs to come in to help us expedite it so that we can have a close date.

“Thereafter, the protocol officer asked me to resend all that had I sent before. I was wondering because we already got a date and only needed them to expedite it.

“From November till December ending, nothing was done. I went and buried my son that was killed, hoping on what Marwa had said.

“I informed NDLEA about the burial and begged them to assist so that the other boy could see. They said okay, that they would do their best.

“I have kept begging the (NDLEA) chairman and everybody around him for help so that my son does not go totally blind. I have lost one already.”

When NDLEA was foot dragging with expediting the date given for the interview, Fidelis said: “My uncle helped us get a date, which was February 2nd 2024, for the visa interview. I told him the NDLEA was already working on it so that they could stand that they were sponsoring the trip. I so much believed Marwa’s words.

“To my greatest surprise, on the first of February, the NDLEA protocol officer called and said that there was a visa interview date for me. I said I hope it was not the date that one of my uncles had already got for me. Why are they capitalising on this?

“The protocol officer called me at about 8:30 pm when I was already sleeping. He said there was a date for me; that they saw it in their system. I told them that the date was more or less for the application I personally submitted and not theirs.

“Their legal officer said we should go to the embassy; that they would see how they could do a letter to them. Before then, NDLEA said I should change the location to Lagos because that was where they could do it with ease.

“I did so, but to my greatest surprise, it was the date that my uncle got that they told me about, and it was Abuja and not Lagos they asked me to change to.

“That very night, I called my agent and he booked a flight for my entire family. When it was our turn to be interviewed, they looked at the medical report and everything and said there was no NDLEA involvement in the process and so they would not be able to give us visa.

“They said we should go and do the needful and reapply. I thereafter messaged Marwa and he apologised. He reimbursed the money I spent on the flight from Asaba to Abuja.”




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