By Gabriel Enogholase, Benin-City
Rewind the tape to 28, April 2012. It was at the heat of the campaign for the Edo State governorship election slated for July 14, 2012 between Comrade Adams Oshiomhole of the Action Congress of Nigeria ( A C N) and the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) Major- General Charles Airhiavbere. Oshiomhole had just left Afuze, the administrative headquarters of Owan- East Local Government Area, where he had gone to campaign and was on his way to Auchi enroute to Benin-City to flag off another campaign at the Museum Ground in the state capital.
Few kilometers to Auchi, tragedy stuck. A tipper lorry veered off the road and crashed into the convoy of the governor. It missed the vehicle conveying Oshiomhole by a hair’s breadth and hit the bus conveying Government House press crew. Three journalists lost their lives and several others sustained various degrees of injury. Among the dead were George Okosun and Olatunji Jacobs, both of Independent Television (ITV), Benin-City, and Fidelis Okhan of the African Independent Television (AIT).
Miraculously, the driver of the Press Crew bus, Mr. Samson Imobeme, survived the crash among others. More than one year after, Sunday Vanguard by chance, met Imobeme on his sick bed at the Accident and Emergency Ward of the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH) on Wednesday while there to interview another accident victim abandoned in the hospital by the transport company he traveled with but was involved in an accident at Okada, near Benin.
According to Imobeme, when the accident occurred, he and other injured victims were rushed to Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital but later referred to UBTH for further medical attention due to the seriousness of his case. “I was unconscious when the accident happened and, when I regained my consciousness, I found myself at the UBTH”, he stated.
“I have been undergoing medical treatment since then. I have not been able to regain the use of my feet, I cannot walk unless assisted. But I have been told by the team of medical doctors treating me that a major operation has been recommended and needs to be carried out before I can walk, but whether this has been conveyed to Comrade Governor Adams Oshiomhole who has been responsible for the payment of my medical expenses since I was brought here is what I cannot say”.
Sunday Vanguard learnt that the operation to cost between N1.5million and N2milion needed to be carried out in India because of lack of facilities in Nigeria. But Dr. Moin, directly in charge of Imobeme’s case in a telephone conversation, disagreed, saying that the operation can be carried out by the UBTH.
“What Samson needs to enable him walk again is the replacement of the knee cap in both legs. It can be done in Nigeria”, he said.
Attempt made to speak with Dr. Alfred Ogbemudia, an orthopedic surgeon and Chairman Medical Advisory Committee (CMAC), UBTH, on the fate of Imobeme failed as he was said to be attending a Board meeting. However, the Government House driver expressed gratitude to Oshiomhole for taking adequate care of him and his family since the accident.
“He is the only one who has been taking care of the medical bills since I was admitted into hospital and I was even told that he deposited some money there to make sure that they take adequate care of me. The government has been paying my salary and my family lacks nothing. I must thank him for this and I appeal to him to prevail on the management of UBTH to ensure that the operation is carried out to enable me walk again”, he said.