Po­lice’ve ‘de­tained’ my 12-year-old boy’s corpse for 42 months

raphael ede writes on how the po­lice in Enugu State com­mand has re­fused to re­lease the corpse of a 12-year-old boy for 42 months be­cause the par­ents could not pay N180,000 for au­topsy

The Punch - - FRONT PAGE - – Dis­traught mother

For 65-year-old mrs chris­tiana Ukwa, go­ing to the po­lice to re­port the mur­der of her 12-year-old son, Olue­bube Solomon, has been a re­gret­table de­ci­sion she took.

Ukwa, a mother of six, who is a na­tive of ebi­aji in the ezza North lo­cal Gov­ern­ment area of ebonyi State, ex­plained that the enugu State po­lice com­mand seized the corpse of her son and re­fused to re­lease the corpse of the boy to be buried 42 months af­ter his grue­some mur­der. She said her agony was com­pounded be­cause she could not pay N180,000 for an au­topsy to be per­formed on the body in or­der to de­ter­mine the ac­tual cause of his death.

Nar­rat­ing how life has been cruel to her fam­ily since her fam­ily re­lo­cated to the South-east from the north­ern part of the coun­try be­cause of the ac­tiv­i­ties of boko haram.

The dis­traught mother of six came to punch of­fice in enugu with her two daugh­ters cry­ing for help. She ap­pealed to the po­lice in the state, to re­lease the body of her late child so that it could be buried.

Nar­rat­ing the in­ci­dent that led to the grue­some mur­der of her son, mrs Ukwa who still look trau­ma­tised and could not rec­ol­lect the se­quence with­out the help of her daugh­ters, said the un­for­tu­nate in­ci­dent hap­pened on Sun­day, may 29, 2016.

She said, “On that Sun­day, my en­tire fam­ily went for 5:30 am mass at the blessed Sacra­ment catholic church at In­de­pen­dence lay­out. I could not come home im­me­di­ately with my chil­dren when the mass was over. I was a church­war­den and be­cause of that I had to stay back to en­sure that things were ar­ranged for the next church ser­vice.”

her first daugh­ter, Veron­ica, who wit­nessed the in­ci­dent, went on as the mother broke down in tears. Veron­ica said, “When we got home, Olue­bube went to our neigh­bour’s house to play with his school mate in-front of their house at No 14 link road, New haven enugu. as they were play­ing sud­denly we heard gun­shot from a com­pound at the lo­bito cres­cent and sud­denly Olue­bube fell down and was shout­ing ‘Je­sus, my chest.’ his col­leagues ran to our house to tell us that they didn’t know what hap­pened to Olue­bube, that he was cry­ing and hold­ing his chest.

“my el­der brother, em­manuel, was around. he was play­ing also with his friends in the neigh­bour­hood. So, he was called and he rushed Olue­bube to Niger Foun­da­tion, where the doc­tors on duty con­firmed him dead. The doc­tor told us that my brother was killed by a bul­let and that the bul­let hit him in the chest.

“be­cause our par­ents were not around, my brother brought the life­less body of Olue­bube to our house. he asked me to go to the po­lice sta­tion to re­port the in­ci­dent. he sent my younger sis­ter to go and call my mother at the church while he re­turned to the com­pound where the bul­let hit my brother to see if he could trace who fired the bul­let and where the gun­shot came from.”

Veron­ica ex­plained fur­ther that be­fore she could ar­rive with po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tors at the scene, her brother em­manuel with his friends had dis­cov­ered where the gun­shot came from.

“So I came with the po­lice, em­manuel nar­rated the in­ci­dent to them and showed them his dis­cov­ery.

“af­ter ex­am­in­ing the life­less body of Olue­bube, the po­lice­men went to the scene where they traced the gun­shot to an­other com­pound at St. lito cres­cent, where a win­dow in one of the rooms up­stairs was shat­tered with marks of bul­let on the walls and other things in the com­pound.

“When they got to the com­pound that be­longs to a well-known trans­porter, ed­win Oforma, she said there was ab­so­lute si­lence and the doors were locked. hav­ing seen the win­dows that were shat­tered, be­lieved to have been as a re­sult of the gun­shot, the po­lice started knock­ing on all the doors. Sud­denly the front door opened and they (po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tors) went in­side and saw two chil­dren com­ing down from the stair­case, a girl and a boy.

“The po­lice­men asked the older one, a girl of about 14 years who gave her name as chi­som what hap­pened. She led the po­lice to a room where she told them the gun was fired, a dou­ble bar­rel gun ly­ing on the floor.

“So, the po­lice­men asked the girl who fired the gun and she told them that she was strug­gling to col­lect the gun from her younger brother, Nnanna who was about seven years old when it dis­charged ac­ci­den­tally. The po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tors took away the gun and went back to the sta­tion. Not quite long they re­turned and went back to the com­pound, this time they meet their mother. Upon en­quiry, she told the po­lice that she did not know what hap­pened but all she knew was that their land­lord asked her chil­dren to help him clean his room, Veron­ica nar­rated.

Sun­day PUNCH how­ever, gath­ered that the po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tors did not make any ar­rest that fate­ful Sun­day. how­ever, on may 30, be­ing mon­day, the po­lice­men came back and ar­rested the seven-yearold Nnanna for killing Olue­bube.

It was gath­ered that af­ter the in­ci­dent, the trans­porter who was around when the in­ci­dent hap­pened ran away with his two chil­dren. be­cause he could not be found, a po­lice source said the lit­tle boy had to be de­tained for four days at the New haven po­lice Sta­tion.

Nnanna was said to have been re­leased af­ter the po­lice had ar­rested the owner of the gun, iden­ti­fied as Oforma of eddy mo­tors. he was said to have run away af­ter the in­ci­dent . he was also de­tained for four days and was re­leased af­ter that.

The mother of the de­ceased told our cor­re­spon­dent that the mat­ter was trans­ferred to enugu State po­lice com­mand for fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

She said, “Two weeks af­ter, the IPO one Ifeanyi told us to bring N150,000 for au­topsy or the sus­pects would be re­leased, and he later re­leased both the owner of the gun and the sus­pected killer of my son. Now they are ask­ing that we should pay N180,000 for the same au­topsy.

“I begged the po­lice that since my fam­ily could not af­ford to pay such amount of money and they have re­leased the sus­pects, they should re­lease the corpse of my son so that we can bury him and al­low his soul to rest,” she said.

mrs Ukwa, who ap­pealed to Nige­ri­ans to pre­vail on the enugu State po­lice com­mand, to re­lease the body of her late son for burial, noted that since the in­ci­dent hap­pened, she had not known peace even as she cried that jus­tice should be served in the case.

Speak­ing fur­ther amidst sobs, the grief­stricken mother said, “Our son was killed by a well-known trans­porter and all our ef­forts to get the po­lice to ar­rest and pros­e­cute him failed. There were eye­wit­nesses but po­lice de­cided to look at the other way. If I can af­ford to pay au­topsy, I will not wait this long be­cause I want to bury my son. They de­tained the corpse of my son for three years and six months while the sus­pects are walk­ing free and liv­ing their nor­mal lives. We have left ev­ery­thing to God who is the ul­ti­mate judge. all we are ask­ing is that the po­lice should re­lease our son so that we can bury him and al­low his soul to rest in peace.”

When con­tacted, the com­mis­sioner of po­lice in enugu State, ahmed ab­dur­rah­man, told our cor­re­spon­dent that said that he would look into the mat­ter.

The cp said, “This is an al­le­ga­tion against my men and I need some­body to com­plain, but you are sound­ing as if you want me to con­firm or not, that is not my job.

“how­ever, don’t worry I am go­ing to go into it di­rectly, just send me those in­volved so that I know the case. I will look into it and get back to you.

“I prom­ise you if I see any­thing that is wrong in it you know I am not the type that take non­sense I’m go­ing to deal with who­ever is in­volved in any il­le­gal­ity in the case.”

but po­lice sources in the homi­cide said that they could not con­tinue to de­tain the sus­pects with­out ev­i­dence. “In this very case, the fam­ily is ex­pected to pay po­lice N56,000 which is the amount for au­topsy and pay N50,000 for the pathol­o­gist. If it is not done, the case will linger for ever and you can­not de­tain a sus­pect if you do not have any proof.”

I begged the po­lice that since my fam­ily could not af­ford to pay such amount of money and they have re­leased the sus­pects, they should re­lease the corpse of my son so that we can bury him’

What is her­petic gin­givos­tom­ati­tis?

Her­petic gin­givos­tom­ati­tis is a con­ta­gious in­fec­tion of the mouth caused by a virus called her­pes sim­plex virus, also known as HSV. Nu­mer­ous small blis­ters erupt in the af­fected area and these blis­ters rapidly rup­ture, leav­ing a painful ul­cer which may co­a­lesce and form a big­ger ul­cer. The term, her­petic, is de­rived from the first part of the virus’ name, her­pes, and the term, gin­givos­tom­ati­tis, is com­bi­na­tion of gin­givi­tis and stom­ati­tis.

Gin­givi­tis is a med­i­cal term for in­flam­ma­tion of the gum and stom­ati­tis sim­ply refers to in­flam­ma­tion of the lin­ing of the mouth, in­clud­ing the lips. The virus re­spon­si­ble for this in­fec­tion is of two types: her­pes sim­plex virus type-1 and her­pes sim­plex virus type2. HSV-1 causes most of the in­fec­tion in the mouth, nose, face and eyes, whereas, HSV-2 is re­spon­si­ble for the in­fec­tion in the gen­i­tal ar­eas and skin in the lower part of the body.

Are there dif­fer­ent types of the in­fec­tion?

Yes, there are two types: pri­mary (acute) her­petic gin­givos­tom­ati­tis and sec­ondary (re­cur­rent) her­petic gin­givos­tom­ati­tis. The PHGS refers to the in­fec­tion of HSV when it hap­pens for the first time. Sub­se­quent in­fec­tion by HSV is known as sec­ondary (re­cur­rent) her­petic gin­givos­tom­ati­tis. Pri­mary in­fec­tion oc­curs most of­ten in in­fancy or child­hood. It may or may not be symp­to­matic. Gin­givos­tom­ati­tis is the most com­mon pre­sen­ta­tion in young chil­dren. It presents with blis­ters and then ul­cers af­ter a rup­ture on the tongue, lips, gums, buc­cal mu­cosa and hard and soft palates.

Pain, in­abil­ity to swal­low, drool­ing and de­hy­dra­tion are com­mon. There may be as­so­ci­ated fever, cer­vi­cal lym­phadenopa­thy (swelling of glands in the neck), hal­i­to­sis (mouth odour), lethargy, ir­ri­tabil­ity and loss of ap­petite. Pharyn­gi­tis (in­flam­ma­tion of up­per part of the throat) is a more com­mon pre­sen­ta­tion in ado­les­cents. Her­petic whit­low is the in­fec­tion of a fin­ger by the HSV, which may oc­ca­sion­ally oc­cur via spread to the fin­gers.

The re­cur­rent in­fec­tion tends to oc­cur in the same lo­ca­tion, usu­ally uni­lat­eral (af­fect­ing only one side of the body) and re­curs two or three times a year on av­er­age. Pro­dro­mal (early) symp­toms may oc­cur six to 24 hours be­fore the ap­pear­ance of a le­sion and in­clude tin­gling, pain and or itch­ing in the skin around the mouth.

Cold sores are usu­ally seen on the lips and ex­tend to the skin around the mouth. Other ar­eas on the face, chin, or nose are some­times in­volved. Le­sions be­gin as red­dish ar­eas that swell and then be­come vesi­cles (blis­ters), which then rup­ture into ul­cers. This takes one to three days. The ul­cers crust over and the skin re­turns to nor­mal within about two weeks with­out scar for­ma­tion.

How does the in­fec­tion present it­self in se­vere cases?

In se­vere cases of PHGS, the in­fec­tion ap­pears as sev­eral clus­ters of blis­ters on the gum, lin­ing of lips, cheeks, tongue, palate (roof of the mouth) and throat. Ap­prox­i­mately 24 hours later, the blis­ters rup­ture re­sult­ing in sev­eral painful sores with red mar­gin and whitish cen­tral por­tion. There may be pres­ence of swelling and bleed­ing of the gum. Some­times, it may be dif­fi­cult to swal­low and drool­ing may be present. Also, be­cause the sores make it dif­fi­cult to eat and drink, de­hy­dra­tion can oc­cur.

What is the ma­jor cause?

Her­pes sim­plex virus type-1 is the ma­jor cause of PHGS. Dur­ing the ini­tial (pri­mary) in­fec­tion, the virus as­cends through the nerve to an area of the brain called gan­glion. The virus re­mains dor­mant in the gan­glion un­til favourable time for sec­ondary in­fec­tion comes.

The dor­mant HSV in the brain is re­spon­si­ble for the sec­ondary in­fec­tion (SHGS). Re­ac­ti­va­tion of the dor­mant virus can be spon­ta­neous or can be due to fac­tors like stress, trauma, sun­light, fever­ish con­di­tion, low im­mu­nity and so on. Af­ter re­ac­ti­va­tion, the virus trav­els down through the nerve to in­fect dif­fer­ent parts of the mouth and pe­ri­o­ral ar­eas.

Is it trans­mit­table and can it be trans­mit­ted through kiss­ing?

HGS is a highly con­ta­gious dis­ease. It can be trans­mit­ted through con­tact with the saliva of in­fected per­sons, di­rect con­tact with the rup­tured blis­ter and kiss­ing.

What are the risk fac­tors?

The risk fac­tors in­clude but are not lim­ited to re­duced im­mu­nity, age, so­cio-eco­nomic sta­tus and clus­ter­ing of in­di­vid­u­als. When the host’s im­mu­nity is low, the ten­dency of con­tact­ing the in­fec­tion as well as its sever­ity and preva­lence is high. PHGS is very com­mon among chil­dren be­tween the ages of six months and six years, with peak pe­riod be­ing ages two to four years.

In­di­vid­u­als with low so­cio-eco­nomic sta­tus have a higher odd of de­vel­op­ing HSV-1. Also, places like day­care, or­phan­ages, small and en­closed en­vi­ron­ments will pro­mote spread of the in­fec­tion.

How is it di­ag­nosed?

Most of the time, di­ag­no­sis of HGS is done clin­i­cally. This means that the clin­i­cian asks ques­tions to con­firm the pres­ence or ab­sence of re­lated symp­toms and ex­am­ines the pa­tient’s mouth for signs of HGS. In rare cases, the doc­tor may take fur­ther steps, which in­volves tak­ing a swab of the af­fected area and send­ing to the lab­o­ra­tory for anal­y­sis.

How com­mon is the in­fec­tion in Nige­ria?

The in­fec­tion is very com­mon in Nige­ria. The pri­mary in­fec­tion is very com­mon among chil­dren be­tween the ages of six months and six years with peak pe­riod be­ing be­tween ages two to four years. The sec­ond peak pe­riod is seen be­tween ages 21 and 23 years.

Is it cur­able?

Un­for­tu­nately, it is not cur­able. Once an in­di­vid­ual con­tracts her­pes sim­plex virus, re­cur­rent in­fec­tion, cold sore out­breaks are likely to oc­cur when the car­rier is ex­posed to risk fac­tors like

Symp­toms of HGS can be mis­taken for symp­toms of other dis­eases like aph­t­hous ul­cer, teething, her­pang­ina, in­fec­tious mononu­cle­o­sis and so on. Hence, it is im­por­tant to visit a health­care pro­fes­sional for ac­cu­rate di­ag­no­sis and treat­ment. HSV ab­so­lutely has no cure, just like HIV. Once an in­di­vid­ual con­tracts the virus, a re­cur­rent episode is bound to oc­cur. When­ever, the host’s im­mu­nity goes down or when ex­posed to one of the risk fac­tors, like stress as men­tioned ear­lier, the dom­i­nant virus be­comes ac­tive again. How­ever, if the im­mu­nity is ad­e­quate and there is no ex­po­sure to risk fac­tors, the in­di­vid­ual may not have any symp­tom for years. This doesn’t mean the virus has left the body.

Are there sim­ple habits that can help pre­vent the in­fec­tion?

be­cause her­petic gin­givos­tom­ati­tis is highly con­ta­gious, the best pre­ven­tion is avoid­ing close con­tact with saliva of in­fected peo­ple. The habit of adults kiss­ing chil­dren should be dis­cour­aged. Kids should not share food, drinks, or uten­sils with an in­fected per­son. If ac­ci­den­tal con­tact oc­curs, the area should be thor­oughly washed with wa­ter and soap. Shar­ing of toys among non-in­fected and in­fected kids should be dis­cour­aged.


•The late Solomon


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