MEET FRANK OSHANUGOR
By Frank Oshanugor
On the 10th of June this year, 29-year-old year old Ebenezer Ayeni, a singer, music producer, vocal instructor and final year Higher National Diploma (HND) student at the Ibadan Polytechnic had woken up hale and hearty with a lot of things to accomplish for the day as his wedding was just about a week ahead. That very Wednesday, he had gone for marriage counseling in his church as a man getting ready to tie the nuptial knots. He was full of life and nothing had suggested to him as he was retiring home for the day that death was just a few hours away.
Dare-devil armed robbers had struck at his family residence in Ojoo area of Ibadan at mid night hours leaving him badly injured. He battled for survival for hours struggling to ward off death at all cost, but the callousness of some medical personnel and men of the Nigeria Police Force aided death to find its way to cut short the expectation of a young and promising Ebenezer.
The gory story of his encounter as told in a recent exclusive interview with AtlanticNewsonline by his immediate elder brother, Ola Ayeni has largely brought to the fore, the inhumanity of man to his fellow man. From every angle, the story portrays our society as a beastly space largely occupied by heartless entities who share some affinity with the devil. It will take a steely heart to bear the sadness that comes with the narrative of how it all happened. Now hear this:
“ My name is Olaoluwa Ayeni, the immediate elder brother to Ebenezer Ayeni. It was a Wednesday, I went to evening service and my brother went for counseling because he was planning his wedding. He went to meet his pastor with his fiancée. I got home that night about 9pm and met him in the living room in a gist with our mother. I joined in the gist which largely had to do with arrangement about his wedding.
“After we ate, just as it had been our custom, my mother called us for a joint family prayer before going to bed. So we prayed together and read our popular Psalm 91 after which our mum retired to her room. Because there was no electricity light that night, Ebenezer and I chose to sleep in the living room. He brought out a mattress and laid on it while I slept on a couch. We had just slept for a few hours when I heard a loud bang at the entrance to our flat.
“I was a bit unconscious but managed to wake up only to see some young men armed with machetes forcing themselves into our apartment. Before I could realize what was happening, one of them had given my brother a cut on his hand with the machete. Ebenezer raised alarm and struggled towards my position, and another one came close and gave me a cut on the head. There were three of them holding machetes while one stood at the entrance of the door with a gun.
“The one that attacked my brother followed him and another was coming towards me to cut me again. I noticed I was bleeding; so I summoned some courage to push away the one coming towards me. Having noticed that I pushed one of them down, the third one also with machete came towards me, flung his cutlass in my direction but I dodged it. He made attempt again and got me by the neck, leaving me with injury.
“The one with gun at the same time, fired in my brother’s direction and unfortunately, the bullet hit my brother. As the other one followed trying to cut me again, I resisted him with all the energy and survivalist instinct in me. I managed to push him and I ran out of the house, jumped through the fence to the next compound which is also owned by our landlady. She lives in the house in the next compound.
“I was bleeding heavily, and raising alarm. My mother heard our voice and tried to rush out. I suspected that when the robbers came, they must have surveyed to ascertain who the occupants of our apartment were and having realized that there were boys in the apartment, they chose to attack, obviously to incapacitate us. When they heard the voice of my mother, they made a retreat, and ran away but before then; they had collected our laptops, phones and some other things. By then, my brother was in a pool of his blood groaning.
“Before they came to our apartment, the robbers had similarly broken into our neighbour’s flat downstairs. We live in a four-flat building with two flats down and two up. It happened that the staircase leading upstairs had a very strong iron protector that could not be easily broken. So the robbers stormed the other flat downstairs before gaining entrance into ours. In that flat, they met only the wife and children of the flat occupier. The husband was out of town, so they carried away television sets, cash and other valuables.
“I was terribly shaken and afraid of losing my brother, so I had to repeatedly bang on our landlady’s window, trying to alert her and other residents that my brother’s life was in danger. In the process I broke one of her louvers. When she eventually got up, I pleaded with her to allow me use her car to take my brother to hospital. I saw the robbers running away. The time was about 1am. She obliged and I single-handedly carried Ebenezer dripping with blood into the car and drove off, not minding the danger. Our guard at the main gate had gone into hiding as he feared for his life when he noticed that the robbers were many.
“My mother was hypertensive, so as I made effort to take my brother to the hospital, I did not want her to follow me. I just carried my brother all alone inside the car and drove off from our place at Ojoo area of Ibadan to the University of Ibadan Hospital (not UCH), though I had thought I would see an hospital on the way, but did not see any. I got to the University of Ibadan Hospital popularly known as Jaja. I got to the gate which was locked and the guard on duty was sleeping. I banged repeatedly until he woke up.
“I told him my brother’s life was in danger and pleaded with him to open the gate for me. He obliged. Now, may I at this point correct one wrong story in town. The University College Hospital (UCH) was not involved in this matter as erroneously reported. Though the University of Ibadan Hospital (Jaja) is a subsidiary of UCH, it is only cases of very severe nature that are referred there. When I got to Jaja, I shouted and the nurses on duty came out.
“I explained to them, but they said they could not do anything about it. I pleaded with them, that my brother was losing much blood and his wedding was only a week away, if only they could help to stop the bleeding, but the nurses continued to insist that they could not do anything about it. They directed me to take him to a private hospital. They mentioned the hospital name. Their refusal was ostensibly due to the fact that I did not come with police report. They said so, and directed me to J-Rapha Hospital – a private medical facility at Bodija. I told them I did not know the place and they saw I was bleeding also and wanted me not to go but I refused because my brother was seriously bleeding in pains. I needed to save his life first.
“One of them later suggested that the hospital ambulance with a driver should direct me to the private hospital. I suggested if we could transfer my brother into the ambulance but they refused and chose to assign one of their staff to guide me with the ambulance in front from the UI Hospital to J-Rapha Hospital. Regrettably on the way, fuel finished in the car I was driving with my brother inside groaning and bleeding profusely. I parked up and made effort to race after the ambulance on foot, but to no avail until they realized I was not driving behind them, so they came back to look for me.
“I pleaded with them to assist me carry my brother into the ambulance, but they hesitated a while trying to call the University of Ibadan Hospital to take permission from their supervisors before they could take us in the ambulance. I had to mount some pressure, pleading with them to consider the life of my brother. We eventually transferred my brother into the ambulance and drove straight to the hospital.
“Regrettably, when we got there, one of the nurses on duty after consulting with someone in their office said they were not going to accept Ebenezer for treatment as we did not come with police report. I pleaded with them to stop the bleeding and suggested that while doing that I would make effort to get across to my pastor who lives in the estate adjacent to the hospital, so that he could help to identify us. My appeal fell on deaf ears as the nurses insisted that we should leave since we did not come with police report.
“My brother was in great pains, battling for survival, yet the nurses did not bath an eyelid. Ebenezer was using his last energy praying loudly just as I was praying in the spirit also. At some point, I told him to reserve his strength and stop praying loud. As the nurses as the J-Rapha Hospital did not want to help us because of police report, someone suggested that we should go to a police post around Awolowo junction in Bodija not too far from J-Rapha Hospital.
“We got there, I came down to beg the policemen on duty to accompany us to the hospital to enable the nurses attend to my brother who was in deep anguish. The policemen on duty said no, that the incident did not happen in their jurisdiction. This was after they had asked us where the incident occurred and I told them, it was Ojoo. I pleaded passionately with them, but they refused. After much effort, one of them suggested we should go to a hospital close to a police station. He suggested Oyomesi Hospital not too far from Orogun Police Station. By this time, we had spent about two hours without help.
“So when we got to the Oyomesi Hospital, we went straight to report to the police station that we brought a gunshot victim. Incidentally, the doctor on duty at Oyomesi Hospital was somebody I knew. So, he did not waste time before he accepted to treat my brother. However, they said he needed blood since he had lost so much of it throughout the period we were looking for help. So I borrowed phone from one of the hospital staff and started making calls to people I could remember their numbers off hand.
”I called my pastor and his wife and others. Since I was equally bleeding, the doctor asked me to sit down so that they could stitch my wound. One of my “area brothers” who came around had to join me in looking for blood. We needed somebody with same blood group (O Negative) with my brother. The doctors in my church too were contacted and they were involved in looking for blood. It was suggested that we should look out for a donor and blood bank.
“Eventually, I remembered that one of my friends is ‘O Negative’, so once I was through with the stitching of my injury, my ‘area brother’ joined me to pick my friend with the ‘O Negative’ at about 4am. Before we could get back to the hospital, Ebenezer was dead. I could vividly recall how he was telling me “egbon” I do not want to die. Regrettably life left him finally before help could come his way. He was literarily dying gradually while we were running round seeking help from people who were not ready to assist. What a life?
“My brother was shot at the lower abdomen. One of the veins was ripped off by pellets. He would have survived it if the medical staff in any of the hospitals earlier visited had accepted him for treatment. Ebenezer’s death was a case of man’s inhumanity to his fellow human being. What a country? People are so inhuman. Even the ambulance driver was annoyed that my brother’s blood stained his ambulance and complained loud that we had given him the task of washing it. He was quite unmindful of the fact that the life of a promising young man was at stake. At some point, I felt like blowing off his head, but chose to restrain myself.
“Ebenezer’s case has thought me a big lesson about Nigeria. We are living in a country where people do not have value for life. More so, some people in medical profession are there not because of the love to care for the life of others as demanded by the Hippocratic Oath they swore to, at medical school. They are simply in the profession primarily for the sake of money even at the expense of someone’s life.
“My brother was planning to get married and as a music producer, he was putting finishing touches to the studio where he works. That week we went to the studio together to record a song. We had been working on the album for the past eight months. We lost our father in July, 2020 and had planned to release the song after his demise just to honour his memory. So it was that Sunday we went to the studio because I had been urging him for us to finish the recording as he was getting married and I was also planning to marry.
“He would tell me that there was no problem. We went to the studio to finish the song and he took the second verse of the song which says: “The beauty of this world will fade away. As our soul is flying away. Don’t be deceived, Christ will come like a thief in the night. Don’t sleep off.”
The late Ebenezer was the last child in a family of five children, four men and one lady. His family hails from Akure in Ondo and due to his father’s missionary activities, the family relocated to Ibadan where their Pastor father died July, 2020. Ebenezer was quite popular both at the Ibadan Polytechnic where he was studying music and rendering tutorial assistance to National Diploma level students due to his high level of intelligence. He was also a gospel preacher who never hid his love for the things of God.
Ironically, he had preached on campus earlier in the day on Wednesday 10th June, 2021 he died. Back in his Akure town, he was a concert organizer for youths as a way of harnessing the musical talent in them. He was greatly loved by many and his death remains painful not only to his family but to anyone who shares in the story of his encounter with armed robbers and the inhuman medical personnel and policemen in a country where most people pretend to be more pious than the Pope.