Charles Okah is accused of the October 1 Independence Day bombing.
Members of the Okah family have expressed concern over what they described as “the continued inhuman incarceration and deteriorating man-induced mental health” of Charles Okah.
Mr. Okah, the Chief Executive Officer of Tombra Life Support, a medical speciality company, is being detained in Kuje Prison for his alleged involvement in the 2010 Independence Day bombing in Abuja. Mr. Okah’s brother, Henry, was convicted and jailed in South Africa for same offence.
A Federal High Court in Abuja had last month ordered that Mr. Okah be subjected to a psychiatrist test to ascertain whether or not he was fit to stand trial.
In a statement jointly signed by Felix and Dadiowei Okah on Monday, the family said before his arrest, Mr. Okah was a successful businessman and philanthropist in mental and physical top shape even though he donated his left kidney 31 years ago to his now deceased mother, Helen.
The family said during a recent visit to him by his wife, Angela, the suspect informed her of the adverse reaction to a certain medication being forcefully administered on him by the prison’s clinic despite his complaints.
“The drug, known as Epilim 200 (sodium valproate or ESV) was prescribed by Professor Bwala, a consultant Neurologist at the National Hospital Abuja (NHA) to treat the damage to Charles Okah’s Neurological system caused by exposure to high level of fumigant chemicals, when Charles Okah and his cell mates were locked up inside the cell that was being fumigated and which led to the subsequent death of Francis Osuwo,” the family said.
Mr. Okah’s family said its research revealed that sodium valpoate (ESV), which was administered in 200mg dosage thrice daily to him, was a medication primarily for epilepsy, stressing “Charles Okah is not epileptic nor is there a family history of Epilepsy.”
Mr. Okah’s family said that a fellow inmate in a single cell block where Mr. Okah, also known as Billy Bones, had been languishing in solitary confinement for three years, confirmed that he (Mr. Okah) had complained to one Mr. Ajayi, a medical doctor at the Kuje Prison Clinic, severally, concerning the side effects the drug was having on him; listing some of them as hallucinations, memory loss, severe headaches, confusion and bed wetting.
The family narrated that on one of such visits, Mr. Ajayi wrote down the complaints on a piece of paper, but may have deliberately not documented them in the detainee’s medical file.
“He (Ajayi) advised Charles Okah to take tylenol brought by his wife to counter the headache and promised to report the development to Professor Bwala.
“But on a subsequent visit after a long period, Dr. Ajayi confessed he had not yet informed the Neurologist, but had discussed the matter with Professor Bwala’s senior Registrar who, according to Dr. Ajayi was ignorant of any side effects of ESV.
“The side effects raised by Charles Okah is clearly stated by the manufacturers of the drug for which intake ought to have been discontinued, instead this systematic poisoning of his mind was allowed to continue unabated for a cruelly long period of time.”
The family said a source working in the clinic leaked out an information that they (doctors) were instructed at a point to stop recording Mr. Okah’s daily intake of ESV even though the medication was still being administered to him, but could however record the other medication such as Amlodopine 10 mg administered for controlling his blood pressure whose brand recommended by the NHA was substituted.
Mr. Okah’s family stated that the continued administration of ESV, which was no longer being recorded in his daily intake chart, was confirmed by a prescription dated September 20, 2013 and signed by Mr. Ajayi; and also by a clinic staff, who escorted Mr. Okah on his appointment with Mr. Bwala on November 27, 2013.
“From all indications, Professor Bwala may not have been informed of Charles Okah’s reaction to the ESV. But noticed his abnormal behaviour thereby recommending a psychiatric evaluation and ordering the discontinuation of ESV with immediate effect after the visible harm had been done,” the Okah family said.
“We give the NHA where Charles Okah’s company established their first Haemodialysis center in 2000 the benefit of the doubt for now, we are hesitant to conclude that they were part of a diabolical conspiracy.
“We suspect strongly that the Nigerian Prison service (NPS) with antecedents for poisoning political prisoners from orders from above, has deliberately and systematically poisoned Charles Okah into becoming an imbecile.”
The family said Mr. Okah had always been desirous of having an impartial trial conducted to clear his name and was confident that unless influenced, he would be vindicated, discharged and acquitted of the charges relating to the October 1, 2010 bomb attack.
They stated that the detainee wanted a forum to dispel the lies told by the State Security Service, SSS, spokesperson, Marilyn Ogar, who announced on a national television on October 19, 2010 shortly after his arrest that “our investigations have revealed that Charles Tombra Okah is Jomo Gbomo the Spokesman for MEND”.
The family urged the Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, and the Human Rights Watch, HRW, “to carry out an independent probe on all parties involved in this shameful and diabolic plot.”