By Esther Onyegbula & Oladimeji Kehinde & Ajetunmobi Adetutu
For 57-year-old Olushola John Joshua, a retired Assistant Superintendent of Police , who was enlisted into the Nigeria Police in 1983, life , could be said to have dealt him with an unkind fate .
First, was the demise of his wife, in 2014, which saddled him with the responsibility of taking care of their five children, alone.
As if that was not enough, an incident that plunged him into his present predicament occurred on December 31, 2016, barely two years to his retirement. Then, he was an Inspector and the patrol Commander at the Ajao Division of the Lagos State Police Command.
He had led a team of policemen , in response to a distress call at Chivita company, Ajao estate. Unknown to him that , it would turn out to be his greatest undoing.
Barely had he arrived the company to contain the situation, than he was ambushed and had a chemical substance poured on him. Unfortunately, the result of that ambush affected his eyes. As you read this piece , his right eye is totally damaged. He also can not see with the left eye. But doctors have assured that it (left eye) has 60% assurance of visibility, only if the required surgery, which will gulp N2.5 Million, is carried on it.
The effect of his present state is already taking a harsh toll on his children as three of them are now out of the higher institutions. Crime Guard gathered that his first son dropped out in 300 level, from the Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, Edo State , while the two others, were forced to discontinue their studies at the Auchi Polytechnic, Edo State.
These children, take turn to lead their blind father to several places where he goes to beg for money to buy eye drop, to save the left eye from total damage , before the surgery. At the moment, he said, he had borrowed over one million naira to treat himself since the incident happened , with the hope to pay back when he received his gratuity.
Visit to his apartment
A pitiable sight greeted Crime Guard during a visit at the Edo State born retired policeman’s apartment in Ikeja, area of Lagos, as two of his children who were supposed to be in school were on ground to assist him.
Clad in grey robe , he narrated how he was detained for eight hours at the Lagos State Police Command, in his bid to get the attention of the Commissioner of Police. At a point, he said he regretted joining the Police .
Hear him: “ I was on official duty as the then patrol commander at Ajao estate division
when I received a distress call from the Management of Chivita company that some hoodlums had broken into their warehouse and were looting their products and that they needed policemen to help restore normalcy to the area.
”Few minutes later, the then Divisional Police Officer, who also received the distress call from Chivita, called me immediately and asked me to go to the company with my team to ensure that adequate security was provided there. As my team and I were about leaving, I received another call on my walkie talkie through a radio message from the police command control room by the Area Commander, who directed me to move to the scene and give him security report of the incident.”
“As soon as we got to the company, we alighted from the patrol van, at one of the entrances, we saw more than 500 persons inside the premises. The people the management alleged were hoodlums were so many. I knew that there was no way that number of hoodlums could invade the company to steal anything. So, I asked some members of the team to man the other entrance while a few others and I went through the main entrance.
“Unknown to me that someone was waiting to attack us with chemical substance. Immediately we entered the premises, they threw different missiles at us. One of the canisters they threw landed on my head and exploded. Its content poured on my head and covered my face. As I made an attempt to run back, while groping in the dark, I fell down, writhing in excruciating pain. The people started shouting, “one of them has fallen”, “collect his gun”, “collect his gun”. As I could not see anywhere, I managed to stand up and began to move, I didn’t know the direction I was moving to. I corked my gun, fired some shots on the ground to scare my attackers and I discovered that the people who were coming close withdrew.
By then, some of my men held my hand and dragged me to the vehicle, they took me to Hidat private hospital, where doctors made frantic efforts to treat me but said that it was beyond them. I was referred to the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, LASUTH , where I spent seven days. From there, I was referred to another hospital. Yet, I was told that the problem could not be solved.
“My DPO came to the hospital with some management staff of CHIVITA to console me. They said I would be taken outside the country where surgery would be carried on the eyes since the doctors here said they could not treat me.
During the period I spent at LASUTH , a team of Chivita staff led by a retired General came to visit me. I was told that the company budgeted 10 million to fly me abroad for treatment. I broke down in tears when LASUTH said they could not treat me . I asked my children to help me call my DPO. She came with the company of some Chivita representative. The Chivita representative explained that the delay was as a result of the bottle neck procedures that the company needed to follow to release funds for my treatment. Later they agreed and took me to a one private hospital, Eye foundation, situated at 27 Isaac John street G.R.A Ikeja Lagos, they assured me that the management of Chivita had spoken to the hospital to look at my case and fly me abroad if they could not attend to it”.
Unfortunately, that was never to be as he said that he was abandoned there.
At this point, he paused, bowed his head and at same time, shook it in self pity. He was silent for a for a while, before he raised his head to continue.
He said, “ At LASUTH, Chivita paid N115,000 which was later refunded when the doctors said they could not handle my case. At the Eye foundation hospital, I was requested to deposit 175,000. According to the doctor, I would be paying N25,000 per night, before they would commence treatment. I was confused because I didn’t have any funds. The DPO was still at the hospital when all these were happening; all the DPO said was that I should use my discretion, If I didn’t have the money.”
“Because of lack of funds, I asked the doctor if my children could bring me to the hospital for treatment, instead of sleeping there, he said yes. This was when my suffering began. My children had to pay for a cab that would take me to the hospital each time I had appointment with the doctor. After a week I called the D.P.O and he said, the Chivita people said every bill I spent would be catered for. From the initial N115,000, I paid for medical treatment, for cab everyday to the hospital, for consultation fee and also bought different eye drops, which ranged between N5000 and N7,000. They used six different ones at the same time. But the company never showed up as promised . I was abandoned to fate.
”As days ran into weeks, weeks to months, it became obvious that the Management of Chivita was not forth coming. My children went to meet the D.P.O with an accumulated bill of N150,000. All they could bring was N90,000″.
Prevented from seeing CP Owoseni
When it became obvious that he had been abandoned, Joshua said he decided to meet with the then Commissioner of Police, CP Fatai Owoseni, four months after the incident. But he said he was prevented from seeing him.
He said, “ On April 10, 2016, I told my children to take me to the then Lagos state CP Fatai Owoseni. Before this date, I had attempted to see him three times but to no avail. His Personal Assistant never allowed me to. They were just looking at me as a blind beggar. I was frustrated and humiliated for now what looked like crime in serving my country for 34 years.
“On that particular day, out of frustration, I sat in front of the entrance of the C.P Fatai Owoseni office. I was determined to kill myself if I didn’t see him because you cannot say that a master sent his servant on errand, only to be abandoned.
When I threatened to kill myself if I was not allowed to see him, somebody called the D.P.O who went straight to the CP’s office. After sometime she came out she asked me what I was doing there. To my surprise, she started shouting and asked if it was because of my problem. She said there were many people waiting to see the CP and that before he would have chance to see me, it would be late.
She fixed a date for us to go and see the Chivta people. But when I got to the company, she told me that the C.P was calling her and that a patrol van had been called to take her home. She said she would go back to the company to collect the money based on the directives of the C.P .
Later, she sent the Station Officer who was accompanied by other person, to give me N200,000″.
Last October, he said during one of his routine visits to the hospital, doctors informed him that he would lose both eyes if urgent steps were not taken to carry out the surgery. In his confused state, he visited the command, only to be denied opportunity to see the CP.
He said, “ Like the previous CP, CP Imohimi Edgal’s personal assistant prevented me from seeing him. I went through the Admin officer whose rank is ASP. When he saw me, he burst into tears because they all knew my problem and he said I should wait and later took me to meet the C.P. but when we got there, the place was filled . he called the CP’s P.A to allow me in when the CP finished with other people. But when the Admin officer left, CP Edgal’s P.A did not allow me in .
In my determined state to meet with Edgal, I went downstairs and told my son to position me by the CP’s car , so as to accost him when he would be leaving. But as the CP was approaching his car, my son told me that some people were coming with him. I later got to know that it was the wife of the then Inspector-General of Police.
Since I could not see, I did not know that the car was about to move. I bent down and started crying for the CP to have pity on me and at the same time, tried to explain how I became blind.
All I heard was the shout of sabotage and the next was that I was taken away, including my son. We were detained in the provost office.
“By then the provost was listening to why I was detained, he shed tears and reported the matter to a Deputy Commissioner of Police . By the time I was taken to see the DC, he went to explain the position of things to CP Edgal.
A week later, he said he was invited by CP Edgal who granted him audience and immediately directed that management of Chivita company should be summoned before the Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge o f the State Criminal Investigation Department, Yaba .
He said, “ But when Chivita management got to the SCID, they said they didn’t believe that I had any problem with my eyes, that they would have to take me to another eye foundation at Victoria Island managed by an Indian man. By the time the result came out, I didn’t hear anything from Chivita. Even when the result of the test conducted on the eyes came out, Chivita didn’t want me to know it was out, until I went to Panti. At a point, they stopped coming to Panti . Even the Investigation Police Officer, IPO began to toss me here and there , at a point.
“ For three years I have been suffering, I started borrowing to treat the eye because If I don’t go to the hospital, the left eye will be damaged . I have borrowed over N1 million to buy drugs . This has forced my children out of school .
All I need for the surgery is N2.5 million . The bill was brought last August. I told my son to go and meet with the DPO, to contact Chivita company that promised to sponsor my treatment abroad . but the company is saying a different thing. It said it never entered into any agreement of such with me. They even dared me to go to court
“ At the moment, I have no one to run to for financial assistance. The company has refused to look my way and the Police are not saying anything as well. Is this the right way to pay me for my 34 years of serving the Police? Most times, the public complains that policemen don’t answer to distress calls. This is the kind of situation that policemen are running from.
What can be worse than being abandoned at a time you need help most? Can you imagine the Police said their hands are tied, for N2.5million to treat one of their own? If I had refused to go to the scene of the distress call as directed by my DPO, I would be made to face order room trial, or I would have been dismissed or reduced in rank.
“My crime was obeying a directive from my boss. I went there for the message they sent me and in the course of it I was attacked and all they could do was to take me to the hospital and abandone me there to suffer with my children. I lost my wife in 2014. My children have been struggling with me since”.
Last week, a 10-year-old girl, Jessica Omogiate, who was moved with pity for the blind retired cop, donated her lunch and transport money to him, to add to whatever he had for the treatment.
He has not been abandoned
But the Police said that the ASP had not been abandoned as claimed. Spokesman for the Lagos State Police Command, DSP Elkana Bala, stated when contacted that his files were being processed.
Although the incident did not occur during the present Commissioner of Police , CP Zubairu Muazu’s tenure, but the command according to Bala, “ has started processing his files. He has not been abandoned by the Police. The command is aware of the matter and is making moves to do the needful”.