By Tony Edike
ENUGU—IKEMBA Nnewi and Commander-in-Chief of the defunct Republic of Biafra, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, who was admitted at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, UNTH, Enugu, following a cerebra-vascular accident, otherwise called stroke, Sunday, was yesterday flown to London, the United Kingdom aboard a German Air Ambulance.
He was evacuated from the Akanu Ibiam International Airport Enugu at 1.52 p.m to United Kingdom by Flight Ambulance International of Germany hired by Anambra State Government. The flight is said to be the first international aircraft to move from the airport which was recently granted an international status by the Federal Government.
Four officials of the Nigerian Immigration Service were at the airport to stamp Ojukwu’s international passport; that of his wife, Bianca; and his Chief of Staff, Prince Jonathan Bob Onyema, who accompanied him on the medical trip.
The ex-Biafran leader is to be treated at a yet to be identified hospital in London which is said to have good facilities for effective treatment of stroke.
He departed the UNTH in an Enugu State Emergency Management Response Team ambulance at 10.55 a.m after spending five days at the Intensive Care Unit unconscious and arrived the Akanu Ibiam International Airport at 11.40 a.m.
The defunct Biafran General was driven through the Nigerian Air Force Base to the Air Force Wing of the airport where the Air Ambulance was stationed.
Vanguard learnt that the National Chairman of All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, Chief Victor Umeh, secured the approval of the Enugu Air Force Commander, Air Commodore Jacob Gbamwuan for the use of their wing for the purpose.
Slow but steady journey
The slow but steady journey from UNTH located at Ituku-Ozalla to the airport at Emene, Enugu, was described as very smooth but the journey, which normally takes about 10 to 15 minutes, lasted about 45 minutes as the Ambulance driver drove cautiously.
On arrival at the airport, Ojukwu was driven close to the side of the air ambulance which had touched down at 10.45 am and headed straight to the Air Force wing of the airport. The crew members immediately conveyed him into the white aircraft marked D-CSIX.
The air ambulance itself, according to an aviation expert, is said to be an Intensive Care Unit with sophisticated medical facilities that can sustain a patient airborne for several hours like a normal ICU of a first class hospital.
On ground at the airport to see the Igbo leader off were Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State, APGA National Chairman, Chief Victor Umeh and his wife; UNTH staff including the Chairman, Medical Advisory Committee, CIMAC, Dr. C. C. Amah and Chief Anesthetic, Dr. Paul Nsoegbunam.
Ojukwu’s two sons, Emeka Ojukwu, Jnr. and Barrister Sylvester Odumegwu Ojukwu were also present.
Anambra State Health Commissioner, Prof. Amobi Ilika, led the ambulance team comprising two from Anambra and one from Enugu while Bishop Obi Onubogu, Chairman of Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, PFN, Enugu State, prayed before the aircraft departed.
The Commander, Air Force Base, Enugu, Air Commodore Gbamwuan, was also present to ensure smooth departure of the former Biafran leader. Many other relations of Ojukwu were also at the airport though security operatives denied some of them access to the Air Force wing.
There had been serious apprehension by Ndigbo over the health condition of Ojukwu’s health when the news of his admission at the Intensive Care Unit of UNTH spread on Monday.
Members of his family tried to conceal the information as his wife, Bianca, an ex-Nigerian beauty queen, declined to speak on his health condition. She insisted that the Ikemba Nnewi was in good health.
Chief Medical Director of UNTH, Dr. Tony Mbah, later confirmed that Ojukwu was rushed to the Accident and Emergency Unit of the hospital, Sunday, and was admitted at the Intensive Care Unit where he was being treated for stroke. He revealed that there were plans to fly Ojukwu abroad for further medical attention though he declared that the hospital was capable of handling the case.
Needed medical treatment
Mbah told Vanguard that the UNTH medical team had continued to do its best to provide the needed medical treatment which, according to him, had helped the blood pressure which was very low to stabilize.
The CMD said: “His Excellency, Odumegwu Ojukwu, Ikemba Nnewi was brought to the Accident and Emergency Department of UNTH two days ago (Sunday, December 19). He was unconscious, the blood pressure was quite low and he was not making enough urine. He was promptly admitted into the Intensive Care Unit, ICU, and the doctors in-charge of the ICU, the anesthesiologists were there.
The attending physicians all rallied round immediately. Professor Vin Ike, the Head of the Medical Team and Dr. Ike, Head of the Anesthesiology team, the Chairman Medical Advisory Committee, CMAC and I were all there.
“Diagnostic procedures were properly availed to him and treatment started. As we were there in the Intensive Care Unit, the blood pressure began to appreciate and he started making urine. Right now he is making sufficient urine and the blood pressure has stabilized and it is normal. The only thing is that the level of consciousness has not appreciably changed since admission.
“Right now effort is being intensified to see whether he can be transferred overseas for further treatment. We have provided all that is necessary including transport oxygen, if that is needed. And we have given the directive that the medical certificate be updated regularly just in readiness for his rapid evacuation as the need arises. That is where we are. He is still in the intensive care unit.”
Dr. Mbah said the opinion of the medical team was that the former Biafran leader had “stroke” otherwise called cerebra-vascular accident which could come at anytime.