By Evelyn Usman, Bose Adelaja & Monsur Olowoopejo
Rescue workers, comprising officials of Marine Police, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, LASEMA and local divers, yesterday, combed the lagoon section at the Third Mainland Bridge in search of the medical doctor, Allwell Orji, who jumped into the lagoon on Sunday.
But the search ended in futility. This is just as his mother told sympathisers that she is hopeful that her son will be rescued by the emergency officials.
The rescue exercise, which began Sunday night and continued yesterday, was conducted down to the Oworonsoki end without any success.
Recall that the medical doctor, attached to Mount Sinai Hospital, Papa Ajao, Mushin, reportedly ordered his driver to park his car, a Nissan SUV, number plates LND476EE, at the Third Mainland Bridge before jumping into the lagoon.
General Manager, LASEMA, who visited the scene yesterday, stated that: “We have expanded our search to go further than where it happened. We engaged local fishermen and divers.
“Also deployed were the Lagos Ferry Services and the Lagos Waterways Agency patrol boats, which were deployed to the waterways. We have informed residents to look out for floating bodies and we have also contacted the family which is still in shock.”
When Vanguard visited Abule-Ijesha in Yaba, Lagos Mainland Local Government, where the deceased resided with his mother, family members prevented journalists from entering.
A member of the family, who spoke on condition of anonymity, politely told Vanguard to leave, saying “as it is now, his mother is too devastated. She is hopeful that God can do the impossible. She has refused to see anyone now. I will appreciate it if their opinion is respected.”
However, the woman was sighted responding faintly to condolences from church members and other residents of the community. Also, the medical doctor’s siblings were seen waiting anxiously for positive reports from the rescue team.
A mother’s hope
During Mrs Orji’s conversation with sympathisers, she expressed optimism that her son would return home alive.
According to her, “I am hopeful that my son will be rescued by the emergency officials and not the recovery of his body.”
She also stated that his son was not married but that marriage plans were on before the tragedy.
A family source, however, told Vanguard that she (mother) had earlier lamented that the driver did not tell her of their journey, saying that could be the reason why he didn’t alert her immediately the tragedy occurred.
Those allowed into the two-storey building on 3, Odunnuku Street, were members of the Deeper Life Church, where the distraught mother worships. Neighbours also visited to console her.
Some of the family members were, however, sceptical over reports that Orji jumped into the lagoon.
A neighbour, who gave his name as Simeon, said: “He was not an introvert, which rules out the possibility of his being depressed. He was an extrovert, who had passion for his job.
However, business went on as usual at Mt. Sinai Hospital, where the deceased was said to have worked, as medical staff were attending to patients.
Efforts to speak with management staff proved abortive as Vanguard was advised to visit the hospital’s head office at Falolu Street, Surulere.
Meanwhile, the driver of the deceased has been detained by the police. Worried by the continued detention of the driver, Mrs Orji urged Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Fatai Owoseni, to release him, expressing fear that he could be tortured during investigation.
In a swift response to his detention, police sources hinted that he was only put behind the counter and not inside the cell. Police sources also stated emphatically that the era of torture was over, especially with the present administration at the command.
Police also debunked claims of a suicide note purportedly written by the deceased, as well as report that late Orji received a call before he embarked on the suicide mission.
Police sources at Adeniji Adele hinted that the driver maintained that his boss told him to park for him to urinate.
According to the source, “the driver stated that he never had any idea of what would happen. He said he obeyed his boss by stopping the car as directed but that to his dismay, his boss jumped into the lagoon before he could reach out to him.”
When contacted, the Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, Olarinde Famous-Cole, clarified that the driver was only taken in for questioning and not arrested.
“It is normal as investigation is ongoing,” Famous-Cole added.