On October 21, pockets of riots broke out across Lagos and other parts of the country. The riot was mainly triggered by the military and police who shot at peaceful protesters at the Lekki toll gate in Lagos, killing some while injuring many others.
The Lekki toll gate was one of the epicentres of the protest movement, which is now known as #EndSARS. The protesters were demanding far-reaching police reform but particularly were calling for the scrapping of the Special Anti-robbery Squad (SARS), a tactical unit of the Nigeria Police Force, accused of extra-judicial killings, extortion, torture and rape.
Rilwan Oshodi, 27-year-old, was returning home from the popular fabric market in the Yaba area of Lagos, where he mends second-hand clothing, when he ran into a group of protesters at the Area C Police Barracks in Ojuelegba.
The evening before, his mother, Muyibat Oshodi, called him and advised him not to come home as the protests around the police facility close to their home had become worse. Mr Oshodi lives at 5, Abimbola Shodipe Street, directly across the road from Area C Police Barracks.
On the morning of October 21, Mr Oshodi said, as he was returning home to freshen up and change into fresh cloths, he saw some of his friends standing with other youth on the Funsho Williams Expressway.
He said it was his friends who told him about the shooting incident in Lekki and how a state-wide curfew had been declared the day before. Moments later, a group of policemen who were stationed around the Area C Barracks, ordered the youth to disperse but before they could respond to the order, the cops started shooting directly at them.
As he ran to find refuge from the bullets around him, a bullet caught him in the left side of his stomach. The bullet came out from his back, rupturing his hipbone and immediately paralysing him.
Mr Oshodi, who now suffers from urinal and faecal incontinence, said he lost consciousness momentarily and only woke up hours later at Havana Hospital in the Akerele area of Surulere.
“From Havana, they transferred me to LUTH (Lagos University Teaching Hospital) and they said I need a medical surgery and that it was only at LUTH that they can do it,“ said Mr Oshodi, who looked seriously emaciated and could barely speak aloud.
Touching the huge surgical scar running down his abdomen, Mr Oshodi said the doctors at LUTH told him he may walk again but only after several sessions of physiotherapy and his surgical wound has completely healed.
“They (doctors) were telling me that there is the possibility that I may walk but there is a belt they will tie on me, but it is when my stomach heals.
“The belt cost N65,000.00 at LUTH and he will be going for physiotherapy,” said Mrs Oshodi.
I begged the doctors to discharge him – Mother
Mrs Oshodi said having sold several of her belongings and incurred huge debts to pay for her son’s treatment, she begged doctors at LUTH to discharge him so he can be taken care of at home because she could no longer afford the cost of keeping in at the hospital.
“I can’t afford the money again. I can’t afford it,” Mrs Oshodi said as she shook her head.
Spreading out a bundle of receipts from a small polythene bag, Mrs Oshodi, who sells plantain, said she has spent over N500,000 treating her soon.
“I can’t bear it again. I asked the doctor to discharge us. They didn’t want to discharge us, but I insisted that we have to go home. I will take care of him by God’s grace.”
When asked how she intended to take care of Mr Oshodi, she said she does not know but hopes she gets assistance from the public.
“Maybe people will help us, but I can’t afford it again,” said the 47-year-old woman.
She said since Mr Oshodi was shot, she has stopped working and her time is entirely dedicated to taking care of him. She explained that due to his paralysis and incontinence, Mr Oshodi needs round-the-clock care.
“Going to two months now, I can go nowhere. If I need anything I will go home and sell anything I can to come and pay for drugs,” she said.
She said she cannot even afford some of the drugs and equipment recommended for her son’s treatment.
“We need drugs today. The one they wrote for us yesterday cost N18,700. I haven’t bought any out of it. I don’t know. I don’t know,” she said hopelessly.
The Lagos State Government had promised to foot the medical bills of all those shot by the police during the #EndSARS protest. The state government also set up a judicial panel to investigate the Lekki shooting and other police atrocities.
But Mrs Oshodi said she is not aware of anything like the Lagos panel or if the government offered to help treat those injured. She said her attention has been primarily focused on how her son was going to get well.
Without proper medical care, Mrs Oshodi fears that her son may be permanently confined to a wheelchair and he may never regain control of his bowel and bladder.
“I don’t know what to say. I don’t know. I just plead if I can get some assistance from people. I don’t know,” she said dejectedly.
Though his condition looked bleak, Mr Oshodi was hopeful of getting back to his feet soon.
“I just want to thank God that I am still alive because so many people have died. I believe I will still walk by God’s grace,” he said.
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