Mr. Oyinemi Dick, a once-vibrant and ebullient leader of Ijaw Youth Council, Central Zone, is now battling for survival, no thanks to shots fired at him by a trigger-happy policeman at a checkpoint in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State. After three years of the dastardly act, Oyinemi, who is now paralysed and bed-ridden, tells SIMON UTEBOR that the police authorities in the state have reneged on their promise to fly him abroad for medical attention
Frustration, dejection, despondency, hopelessness and despair rule the world of Oyinemi Dick, a once vibrant and eloquent Chairman of Ijaw Youth Council, Central Zone, under the Kumbowei Clan in Sagbama Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.
Like others who have tasted the cruelty of some callous policemen, Oyinemi had a full dose of police brutality on Sunday, February 22, 2015 which has since tumbled his life and truncated his future dreams.
On that fateful day, a trigger-happy policeman, Mr. Binaebi Kudubu, shot Oyinemi at a close range in the neck at a checkpoint in Igbogene on the outskirts of Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital.
Saved from the throes of death after a number of life-saving, resource-sapping surgeries to extract the pellets (bullets) from the spine in the neck region, the once ebullient Oyinemi is now lying in a critical condition paralysed, bedridden for more than three years.
Meeting him for the first time at one of the rooms in his parents’ apartment in Old House of Assembly Quarters Road, by Ofoni Street, off Azikoro Road, Yenagoa, because the family has yet to muster the financial muscle to fly him abroad for corrective spinal surgery as advised by specialists, Oyinemi has simply become a mere vegetable.
Apart from his sharp and wonderful voice which appears to be the only thing left for him, the gunshot wound has permeated most part of him. Oyinemi cannot do anything on his own. He has become a big burden to his family members, particularly his mother, who has been with him all these years. He can neither use his legs nor hands. To urinate, he uses catheters.
Writhing in pains as a few of his family members tried to lift him up, Oyinemi, with his eyes sunken deep into sockets, betrayed his emotions as he cried profusely.
The more they tried to console him, the more he cried, nodding his head in self-pity, and speaking in a hushed tone. Later, he spoke out loudly: “The police have abandoned me. They promised Ijaw youths that they would fly me abroad and replace my car damaged by bullets. But three years after, I have been abandoned by the police. I have now become a shadow of my former self.”
He still believes that since he has not died all these years, God would still raise some public-spirited individuals to rescue him from the jaws of death.
Narrating his ordeal, Oyinemi said on that fateful Sunday evening he was driving a Toyota Camry to Yenagoa through the New Yenagoa Gateway Road and as he approached the roundabout at Igbogene, he was flagged down by some policemen at the checkpoint, on whose instruction he brought out the particulars of the vehicle for examination.
Satisfied with the documents presented to them, the policemen handed them back to him and asked him to go. Then the unexpected happened! One of the police officers at the checkpoint who was stationed some few metres away from where Oyinemi parked his car for checking opened fire on the vehicle and some of the bullets hit him in the neck.
According to the 27-year-old Oyinemi, he had not quite driven off from the checkpoint when the young corporal identified as Mr. Binaebi Kudubu, then serving with the Igbogene Division of the Nigeria Police, fired his rifle at the moving vehicle.
He said the last thing he heard before going blank was the sound of the gunshot. Being unconscious at that instant, he lost control of the vehicle which veered into a nearby bush.
Oyinemi was reportedly rescued from the vehicle by the policemen and passers-by, who rushed him to Okolobiri Teaching Hospital a few kilometres from the Igbogene roundabout where the shooting took place.
From the Okolobiri Teaching Hospital, he was immediately referred to the Port Harcourt University Teaching Hospital in Rivers State where the doctors performed a number of surgeries in what amounted to a protracted battle to save his life.
When asked whether the Police corporal who shot him had been prosecuted, Oyinemi disclosed that the officer had been dismissed and prosecuted for his misconduct.
He noted, however, that the Nigeria Police which promised to offset his medical bills abroad and repair the damaged car had reneged on their promise to do so.
Oyinemi said, “Initially, as leader of the Ijaw Youth Council, my fellow comrades took to the streets of Yenagoa en masse, specifically at the popular Tombia Roundabout, in a protest that led to the intervention of the then Commissioner of Police in Bayelsa State.
“At his instance, a meeting was convened, which had in attendance leaders of the IYC National Executive and members of the IYC Central Zone. The demands made by the IYC at the meeting included the footing of the medical bill for my treatment abroad and the replacement of the damaged car.
“The Bayelsa State Command of the Nigeria Police through the office of the Commissioner of Police agreed to the demands made. The former IYC President, Mr. Udengs Eradiri, can attest to this. But as I speak, nothing has been done by the Police authorities in the state; they simply abandoned me to my fate.
“I have written several petitions and letters. I have even written petitions to the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, and the National Human Rights Commission over the matter.”
Oyinemi further disclosed that his health condition had led to the loss of his job, and the forfeiture of his academic pursuit at the Igbinedion University, Okada, Edo State, where he was studying International Relations/Strategic Studies already at 200 level.
According to the Aleibiri-born youth activist, indifference and coldness on the part of the Police authorities in a matter even the Inspector General of Police is aware of compelled him to institute a fresh suit at the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. The objective of the litigation is to press for damages and the footing of his medical treatment abroad.
Oyinemi says that in order to get back to normal life, he has been referred to Israel or India by his doctors for spinal cord corrective surgery.
He, therefore, called on the Bayelsa State Police Command to fulfil its promise to fly him overseas for the corrective surgery to enable him lead a normal life again and to actualise his childhood dream of becoming a diplomat.
He lamented, “So far, they have abandoned me. But for my parents and other family members, including friends and associates who came to my aid and with help of God, I would have died a long time ago.
“I have been on this bed for more than three years! I can’t move from this bed; I can’t even feed myself without assistance. This is the pitiable and pathetic situation I find myself.”
Help, he is our only child; we have sold all our valuables – Mother
Mother of the victim, Mrs. Ebikeniye Dick, a civil servant with the Bayelsa State Government, has appealed to the government, corporate and public-spirited individuals to come to the aid of the family so that their only child can lead a normal life again.
Ebikeniye, who spoke amid sobs, said the condition of Oyinemi has wrecked the family financially and emotionally, claiming that the family had spent over N15m since the incident occurred.
The distraught mother regretted that since her son’s ordeal, no help had come from anywhere except the IYC under the then leadership of Udengs Eradiri that gave them N150,000 when they were in hospital in Port Harcourt.
She said even the police whose personnel brutally shot their son and members of their family had abandoned the family in their woeful and agonising situations.
Ebikeniye said, “We have not got any assistance from anywhere. We are just struggling and we have got to a dead end with no hope in the horizon anymore. He is the only child I have. The only help we have got so far is the N150,000 brought by former IYC President, Udengs Eradiri, when he and other IYC members visited us in the hospital in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
“Due to this incident, I have sold everything I have including my jewellery to make sure he is well. Yet, he is still far from being well. Everyday, we spend money to buy fuel to enable us to switch on the generator to power fan for him because his body is always hot.
“Besides, he wears pampers everyday since he cannot go to toilet on his own. The same thing applies to his urination. He puts on pipe (cathetic) to pass out urine. My son’s condition is critical. I appeal to Nigerians to help us. Please, make my son live again. He is the only one I have and I cannot afford to lose him. We have overstretched our elasticity limit financially.”
Justice has been done in the case – Police
When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer, Bayelsa State Command, Mr. Asinim Butswat, said that justice had been done in the case.
Butswat, a Deputy Superintendent of Police, said that the police officer involved (Mr. Binaebi Kudubu), had been dismissed and prosecuted.
The police spokesperson, however, refused to comment on the issue of promise by the command to fly the victim abroad for surgery, saying that he had no knowledge of such promise.