Victor Ogungbemi, 33, is having trouble describing how he feels. Since he was attacked by suspected kidnappers in August 2017, his life has dissolved into pain, bitterness, illness, frustration, and restricted physical movements. Today, he walks with the aid of a crutch, used to support his weight as the incident has made him lose his leg.
“Let me lean on you to rest a bit,” he says as he lets he our correspondent into his residence at Ayedun Quarters in the Nove Road area of Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State. Ogungbemi should be a 500 level medical student of Ekiti State University now, but his story has since changed and so are his immediate needs.
His left leg has been amputated and his left arm holding the crutch needs a surgery following gunshot injuries he sustained during the August 2017 attack. It was learnt that orthopaedic surgeons had performed three surgeries on his left leg in a futile attempt to save it before eventually amputating it.
Ogungbemi was shot when armed bandits attacked him and some others on the Abuja–Okene Highway.
On Saturday, August 5, 2017, as a 300 level medical student, with only a few years to graduation and subsequently housemanship, Ogungbemi took his cousin to Obangede in Kogi State for her to take an entrance examination of the Kogi State College of Nursing and Midwifery.
It all seemed like a perfect day until when they were on their way to Ondo State, and along Okene-Abuja Highway, when a group of armed men, numbering about 15 came on the road, pointing guns at motorists menacingly and shooting into the air.
Ogungbemi says motorists were forced to stop, including him who was driving a Honda Pilot SUV.
“On our way back, we were between Okene and Ogirimagogo when the armed men suddenly came on the road. They were shooting sporadically. There was fear, tension, terror and confusion.
“Before I knew what was happening, they pounced on me and my cousin. They dragged me down. My cousin was also dragged down and asked to sit on the road. But I was not fortunate as they dragged me to the bush along with some others.
“I even offered the car keys to the one close to me, but he did not appear to be interested in them as they marched us on, still shooting sporadically. I believe they were kidnappers and not robbers. After walking for about 10 minutes in the bush, one of them just took a second look at me and then opened fire.
“He shot at my left side, badly affecting my left leg and arm, and my right arm was also slightly affected in the process. I fell down and blood was oozing out of me. Perhaps he thought I was dead because he left me there, drenched by my blood. They continued the journey with others.
“I can say that I lost consciousness because I only had a faint idea of my environment as I had lost so much blood. I was already saying my last prayers because I never believed help could come from anywhere.
“Then some soldiers, whom I believe were combing the bush for the armed criminals, found me in the helpless state and chose to rescue me first before continuing with their assignment of looking for the armed men,” he says.
Ogungbemi, who recalls being in agonising pain, says he begged one of the soldiers to free him from the agony by shooting him in the head or in the chest so that he would die rather than endure another tortuous journey.
“I felt that would have settled everything. I would have been dead and gone and saved from the mess I am in now. But again, what would have been the fate of my wife and two children?” He asks.
According to Ogungbeni, rather, the soldiers took him to a public hospital in Okene and instructed the nurses and other hospital personnel on duty to treat his case with urgency and that he was a victim of armed bandits.
“It should be around 6pm that we got to the hospital. One of the soldiers asked me for the mobile phone number of any relative they could call, and I gave him my wife’s phone number. He called my wife and informed her about the attack and the hospital I was before they left.
“But surprisingly, despite my condition, the hospital workers on duty were not bothered. They refused to attend to me. When I was hungry and dehydrated, one of the nurses brought sachet water for me.
“Later in the night, two men, clad in vests that suggested they were policemen came to the hospital ward to take me away. According to them, they were taking me to a place where the bullets lodged in my leg and arms would be removed. They took me to a location in a bush. There was a house there and an old man, who claimed he would remove the bullets.
“After the policemen and the man had negotiated in hushed tones, they later informed me that the man would charge some millions of naira for the job. But I was helpless. When my wife arrived at the hospital later that night, the nurses said some policemen had taken me to where the bullets would be removed and that she should wait for the policemen to take her there.
“When the policemen eventually brought my wife, they said we would have to pay N2m before the process of removing the bullets would start. We were shocked. Where would my wife, a civil servant, get the money?” He asks.
According to him, when his elder brother also arrived at the place on Sunday, the following day, the man, in cahoots with the policemen, insisted on payment before service, adding that the attitude compelled his brother to beg them to allow the family to take him (Ogungbemi) away for treatment.
He says a surprising dimension was added to the situation as the policemen refused, insisting that my relations had to pay before they would allow them do anything about me – whether to extract the bullets or to release me for treatment elsewhere.
“They released me after the third day following pleas by my brother, who paid N400,000 to them and begged them that he would pay more later.
“My brother arranged for an ambulance to move me from there to Federal Medical Centre, Owo in Ondo State, where the doctors battled in vain to save the leg. The doctors took special interest in my matter when they got to know that I was a medical student.
“But the treatment could not be completed due to an industrial action embarked upon by the Joint Health Sector Union, which led to my being taken away from the hospital. That marked the beginning of a tortuous journey,” he said.
Ogungbemi says life suddenly turned to hell for him as he was up to his ears in debt and still unable to walk properly following the amputation of his leg.
According to him, he could almost physically see the walls of his world crumbling down before him like a pack of cards as he is in dire need of medical intervention to save his hand that was also affected by bullets.
“I am in dire need of prosthesis and surgery. I want this hand back so that I can work. The pain has made it impossible for me to go back to continue with my medical studies. There is no way I can climb stairs to class; moving on even surface is even difficult. That is why I have not been able to go back to school.
“I want this hand back so that I can continue with my education and get back on track. I still long to become a medical doctor so I can attend to people’s medical needs. This condition saddens me,” he says tearfully.
For Ogungbemi, life should be about doing good and helping others, a line of thought which he says informed his decision to become a medical doctor.
Ogungbemi, who hails from Oka Akoko in Ondo State, secured admission into EKSU to study his dream course, Medicine and Surgery, hoping to actualise his dream of serving humanity as a medical doctor.
A medical report for Ogungbemi issued by FMC, Owo, signed by a consultant orthopaedic surgeaon, Dr A. A. Olasinde, for the Medical Director, Dr I. O. Fasoranti, stated that “Ogungbemi presented to the Accident and Emergency Unit of our hospital on 15-8-2018 on account of inability to use the upper limb and inability to bear weight on the left lower limb following a gunshot injury he sustained from a highway robbery attack along Okene-Abuja Expressway about four days prior to presentation.
“On careful evaluation, a diagnosis of GA Type III C Open Left Humeral fracture and GA Type III A Left Humeral fracture was made.
“He subsequently had left above knee amputation done with debridement and management on cost of the left arm injury on 21-8-2017. He was thereafter managed on the male orthopaedic ward of the hospital until he was discharged home to represent on resumption of the then ongoing nationwide JOHESU strike.
“He is currently ambulating on bilateral axillary crutches and on outpatient clinic visit.”
Account name: Ogungbemi S. Victor
Account number: 3058626910
Bank: First Bank
Phone number: 07032564428
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