Re: Press Release By National Maritime University, Okerenkoko Delta State in Respect of The Avoidable Death of Emmanuel Uhiosanobua Okpeku (“Uhi”); SETTING THE RECORDS STRAIGHT

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Re: Press Release By National Maritime University, Okerenkoko Delta State in Respect of The Avoidable Death of Emmanuel Uhiosanobua Okpeku (“Uhi”); SETTING THE RECORDS STRAIGHT

It is no longer news that the National Maritime University, Okerenkoko Delta state (“NMU”) made a press release in the Saturday Vanguard Newspapers on 12th March 2021 wherein they purported to explain issues connected to the death of Uhiosanobua Emmanuel Okpeku, a promising 20-year-old Nigerian who died on 7th March, 2020 after falling ill while in the custody of the MNU. In the press release signed by the Registrar of the NMU, Dr. Alfred Mulade, the NMU inferred that Uhi was diagnosed of Covid-19 symptoms and that they followed Covid-19 protocols in responding to the situation until the eventual death of our beloved Uhi. To an unsuspecting reader, it is easy to get swayed by the content of the press release However, facts show that the hierarchy of the NMU acted negligently in responding to the medical situation reported by Uhi. It is therefore necessary that we join issues with the management of the school so that proper questions can be asked of them. Below is the position of the family:

Uhi fell ill on 28th February 2021 and visited the MNU health centre on the 1st of March. He returned on the 2nd of March as he was not feeling any better and was in very bad shape. He was therein admitted. His family was not aware until 3rd of March 2021 when his uncle, Ose Okpeku who is resident in Lagos, made a random call to him during which he informed his uncle that he was at the health center and in very bad shape as he has been unable to eat and with attendant pains and fever. Questions posed by his uncle as to the symptoms he had and the treatment he had received and the answers by Uhi were alarming such as compelled Ose Okpeku to request to speak with the medical personnel on duty at the said time. The said medical personnel was unable to provide any sense of direction as to what exactly was wrong with Uhi and the treatment required. He however mentioned to Ose Okpeku that Uhi displayed some symptoms of Covid -19 and that they were sending him to Central Hospital Warri for Covid-19 test. Realizing that he was being sent unaccompanied on a two-hour boat ride his uncle insisted that he ought to be accompanied by a medical personnel from the health center. When the health centre was not forthcoming, his friend volunteered to go with him. If his friend had not so volunteered, Uhi would have had to make that 2-hour boat journey alone and in a very bad condition both physically and psychologically. This we dare say is  against all known patient care protocol.

Contrary to NMU’s claim that arrangement was made for Uhi to go to Warri and land in the waiting hands of the Local Government Focal Person, it was a family member who provided the funds required to transport Uhi and his friend from the university health center to Warri. Upon arriving Warri on 3rd March, 2021, the same Uhi that was supposedly expected by the Local Government Focal Person could not be attended to at the Warri Central Hospital as he was told that the unit had closed for the day and so he and his friend had to stay at a hotel. A family member funded the bill as well as we have the proof of transfer of funds. Uhi’s sample and that of his friend were taken on 4th March and they were asked to leave.

More worrying is the fact that the NMU asserted that Uhi and his friend abandoned the drugs that Uhi was given at the jetty. This is not only ridiculous but beggars’ common sense as NMU had none of its medical personnel in attendance. The absence of a medical personnel on this medical trip is even more disturbing considering the state Uhi was in physically and otherwise having been seriously unwell and unable to eat for three days.

When the family made an assessment of the way things were looking, considering the little or no care he had received thus far, and his overall physical condition, arrangement was made for Uhi to be taken to Stella Obasanjo Hospital, Benin where he was admitted and another Covid-19 test was conducted. The result had not come out as at 7th March 2021 when Uhi passed on.

Contrary to the assertion of MNU, the family arranged for Uhi to be transferred to Benin and paid all the medical bills at Stella Obasanjo Hospital.

Gutted by the sudden turn of events, the family requested for a post mortem examination to determine the cause of death while the MNU made a press release on 12th March 2021, same date Uhi was buried, claiming that he died from Covid-19 complications.

As at the time the NMU released the aforementioned press statement, the Covid-19 test results were not out. The family is shocked and deeply saddened that such conclusion can be reached and broadcasted in the absence of any medical support.

Thankfully, the Covid test result from Benin is now out and it shows that Uhi did not contact Covid-19 as alleged by the NMU. The family has since been requesting for the result of the test from Central Hospital Warri and against all known protocols was informed that the test result had been sent directly to a doctor at the NMU.

It is our candid belief that the management of NMU is playing games with the family and are orchestrating a grand plot to cover-up the circumstances that led to the avoidable death of Uhi in a bid to avoid the legal consequences of their negligence and breach of duty of care in the way and manner Uhi’s illness was managed by the MNU.

From the foregoing, we are forced to ask the NMU the following questions: What is the purpose of the many untruths in their press release. Why is there an attempt to cover up sacred facts? How much of regard do they have for Uhi’s memory given the propensity with which they have lied and attempted to cover up their negligent handling of the young man’s medical complaint? Why were they in a hurry to conveniently blame the avoidable death of Uhi on Covid-19 in the absence of confirmed test result or medical report in that regard and lastly, why are they hoarding the medical report in their custody?

This statement has been released to set the records straight.

Thank you for your time.

For: Okpeku Family, Aigbe Okpeku

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