Nigeria: Omonigho – Fresh Controversy Brews Between Govt, NGO

It was mixed reactions when Omonigho Abraham, the four year old boy who was attacked by dogs in the Igando area of Lagos State late last year came back to the country from India, where he was taken for repair surgery. For the family and friends of Omonigho, it was a time of celebration and thanksgiving as the four year old had overcome all the immediate threats emanating from the dogs attack on him.

Baby Omonigho was attacked by two dogs in their house on Adegboyega Street, Akesan Estate while he played with his brothers- Osemudiamen and Bobby. It had been reported that the dogs chased the victim and his two brothers as they took turns riding a bicycle in their compound. However, while Omonigho’s two elder brothers escaped, the dogs reportedly pounced on the four year old, eating off part of his scalp. The reports had it that that policemen and residents who rushed to the scene had stood and watched, perhaps in fear of the big dogs until the boy’s mother arrived, fought off the dogs and rescued her son.

Omonigho was taken to Igando General Hospital from where he was transferred to the Lagos State Teaching Hospital because of the severity of the attack. It would also be recalled that when the news broke out, the Lagos State Government had promised and issued a statement to the effect that it would foot all the medical expenses of the child.

However, the boy’s stay at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja, was marred by complaints of neglect until his father, Mr. Odia Abraham raised an alarm that the poor boy’s condition was worsening because doctors were not attending to him despite the governor’s directive.

It was at this point that the Child Help in Legal Defence of Rights to Education in Nigeria (CHILDREN) Project, a developmental non-profit, non-governmental organisation (NGO), which specialises in cases affecting women and children wrote a letter to Governor Babatunde Fashola on the 3rd of November, 2014 asking him to compel LASUTH to do the needful on the boy.

Shortly afterwards in December, the boy’s father had announced that the Delta State Government and a non-governmental organization, Global Initiative for Peace, Love and Care had concluded plans to fly his son to India. Also a reported alternative plan by the Lagos State Government was turned down by the victim’s family, who said the India travel plan had already been concluded. Then finally on November 28, 2014 Omonigho departed for India despite concerns raised by the Lagos State Commissioner of Health, Mr. Jide Idris that his condition was delicate and needed special attention.

Omonigho has come back from India in high spirit but a bitter altercation may be brewing between the Lagos State Government and CHILDREN Project. The NGO has condemned what it called “the lackadaisical attitude of the Lagos State Government and the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) to children health care cases in the state.”

  Debo Adeniran, National Coordinator of the CHILDREN Project said the actions of the Lagos State Government regarding Omonigho is a repeat of the case of Master Sodiq Adeleke, a former student of Lagos Model College, Meiran, who was reported to have got burnt in his right hand while he was serving as the ‘Torch of Unity’ during his school’s Inter-House Sports sometimes in December, 2012.

Adeniran said that in that particular case, the CHILDREN Project had equally informed the Lagos State Government which also promptly directed LASUTH to treat the boy on the bill of the state government. Sadly, Adeniran said that Adeleke has yet to be treated more than two years after.

“For the avoidance of doubt, there are other cases that had been pending even before the baby Omonigho’s case. For instance is the case of a teenager, Master Sodiq Adeleke, a former student of Lagos Model College, Meiran, who got his right hand burnt while he was bearing the ‘Torch of Unity’ during his school’s Inter-House Sports sometimes in December, 2012 and in whose case we informed the Lagos State Government who promptly intervened by directing the boy to be treated at LASUTH on the bill of the state government. Sadly up till now, Sodiq Adeleke is yet to be operated upon as prescribed while the injury on the poor boy’s burnt hand keeps festering; a development that is capable of rendering the affected hand permanently dysfunctional.”

He said that CHILDREN Project written the Lagos State Governor even after Baby Omonigho was taken to India as well as reminded it of the yet to be fulfilled promise made to Sodiq Adeleke “so that the case would not be prolonged any further. The Lagos State Government promised to get back to us, which they have not till date.”

CHILDREN Project believes that this negligence on the part of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital in these two cases is uncalled for, noting that Omonigho’s transportation to India for treatment and his return within three weeks is less than the period of time that “LASUTH used in delaying. Children of such age are supposed to be entitled to good health care delivery that will be administered free of charge” the group stated.

He added: “CHILDREN Project frowns at this unwholesome attitude of the Lagos State Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) which can be viewed, as not only a sheer of display of lack of respect to life, but also to the office of the Governor. We also want to be sound that the owner of the dogs that bite Baby Omonigho should be appositely prosecuted of whatever crime he might have committed.

Efforts to get the Lagos State Government, and authorities at LASUTH to react to the allegations raised by CHILDREN Project were unsuccessful as at the time of filing this report.

SOURCE: Daily Independent.


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