Divisional Police Officer, Ogudu Division, Lagos State Police Command, Celestina Kalu, tells DEJI LAMBO, how she saved a victim of an armed robbery attack, Friday Ajabor, from certain death
How did you learn about the armed robbery attack on Mr Friday Ajabor and what was your reaction?
I received information from the control room around 9.30pm that a young man was seen lying in a pool of his own blood around Abiola Gardens in the Alausa area. I had to dispatch my patrol team immediately to confirm the story.
When they got there and investigated what happened, they learned that some armed robbers had attacked the man and his friend and shot him in the stomach.
I instructed my men to take him to the Gbagada General Hospital for treatment. But when they got there, the doctor gave him first-aid treatment, placed him on a drip to stabilise him and afterward, referred him to the Federal Medical Centre at Ebute Metta, claiming that the hospital lacked the necessary facility to handle his case.
Later my men called to inform me that the FMC had rejected the robbery victim for want of bed space. This was around 11pm. We decided to take him to the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital and I promised to meet them there.
Did you have to meet your men and the victim at LASUTH? What did you observe when you got there?
Judging from the nature of Ajabor’s injury, I knew he would need some money for his treatment. I was not comfortable with the way he was being referred from one hospital to another by the doctors. I was really concerned about his condition. When he was being taken to LASUTH, I spoke with him on the phone. He told me that he worked with a company that packaged sachet water as a security guard at Ogudu GRA.
Using the address he gave me, I went to the company and met the wife of the owner. I informed her about Ajabor’s condition and asked how she could assist with his medical treatment. But the lady refused to help. She told me that since the company outsourced its security affairs to another company, with which Ajabor worked directly, I should speak with the company instead.
So I left for my office, picked the cash I had with me, including my ATM card, and went to LASUTH. On getting there, I was surprised that he was still receiving drip in my patrol vehicle. When I asked why it was so, I was told that there was no more bed space in the hospital.
A doctor attempted to place him on another drip so as to stabilise him before referring him to another hospital at midnight, but I demanded that he must be admitted for treatment as he had been bleeding for over three hours.
We had done our duty by bringing him to the hospital alive. I told the doctor and some other hospital personnel around that we were not going anywhere that night and they must do something about the robbery victim. I instructed my men to hand him over to the doctors on duty at the Surgical and Emergency Centre in the hospital. When the doctors saw that I was angry and about to leave, one of them requested my telephone number and address.
In such a situation, when does your official assignment usually end?
My official assignment ends when I take the victim to the hospital. In this case, after I gave the doctor my address and phone number and turned to leave, Ajabor started crying and begging me not to go. He said, “Mummy, please don’t leave me here to die, help me, please help me.”
That statement and the desperation in his voice got me thinking fast. So I decided to stay. I told some of my men to go back to the station and asked the escorts that accompanied me to the hospital to stay, as I went ahead to deliberate with the doctor on the next thing to do.
I had to act beyond my official assignment. This is because I believe that every human being has a right to life. If I had left the hospital, in spite of Ajabor’s pleas, and he died in the process of waiting for treatment, I would never have forgiven myself.
What was the victim’s condition at this stage and what transpired during your discussion with the doctor?
At that point, Ajabor had lost a lot of blood. I was scared that he was not going to make it. He was placed on another drip, but the doctor told me the drip was borrowed from another patient and that if I wanted to assist him, I would have to buy all that was required for his treatment. I had to do all that. I gave them some money so that they could commence the treatment. They took a sample of his blood and tested it to determine his blood group. It turned out that he was O+. But I was told that the hospital had no O+ in its blood bank. Fortunately, some of my men and I were O+ and we volunteered to donate blood, but they declined our offer because it was late.
The doctor said I could purchase blood from somebody he knew. He gave me the person’s contact detail. I called the person and ordered four pints of blood. Later, Ajabor was wheeled in a stretcher to the theatre for surgery. That was around 5am. Right from that the moment the doctors started treating him till I left for my station around 6am, I had spent over N200,000. But the expenses kept increasing till I had spent over N400, 000 from my own purse. I managed to contact a relative of the robbery victim, whose number he had stored as ‘my brother’ on his phone, and explained the situation to him, but in vain.
What made you to hang on after you realised that Ajabor’s treatment was costing you a lot of money? How much did you spend on his medical bills altogether?
I didn’t want him to die. In fact, when he was in the Intensive Care Unit for nine days, I kept praying for him because he was hanging between life and death. The hospital had placed him on a life support machine for five days. This meant that he had a 50-50 chance of him making it.
Every single day that passed, I bought drugs worth over N100,000, till the cost down to N70, 000, N50,000 and N30,000. In fact, I spent almost N1.5m on his treatment. I kept sending money to the hospital whenever it needed it for his treatment. My concern was to keep him alive. It really wasn’t about the money. All the while, I requested financial support from my friends, colleagues, church members and neighbours. Even I made a request to the chairman of the local government council and he gave me N70,000.
When popular musician, Ruggedman, came to my office for a particular issue, we got talking and I told him about Ajabor’s condition and how I could no longer cope with his medical bills, he volunteered to help and eventually gave me some money. I never knew his intention until he posted the story online and it went viral to the point that people started sending money for Ajabor’s treatment. Part of the money donated, about N1m, was used to pay the robbery victim’s medical bills.
How does it feel receiving an award from Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State in recognition of your selflessness?
I am still shocked. If somebody had told me that I would be honoured by Governor Sanwo-Olu for what I did, I wouldn’t believe him. I never imagined that I would be rewarded for this. Like I said before, this was not about the money; I just didn’t want Ajabor to die.
I am really grateful to the governor for the honour. It just shows that to whom much is given, much is expected. Nigerians have been equally wonderful, kindhearted, very appreciative and supportive toward helping Ajabor. I am proud to be a Nigerian serving my country.”
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She’s an angel sent by God to save my life –Robbery victim
An armed robbery victim, Friday Ajabor, recounts how Divisional Police Officer, Celestina Kalu, of Ogudu Division, Lagos State Police Command saved his life recently, in this interview with DEJI LAMBO
Why did you have to struggle with armed robbers, even at gunpoint?
I never knew the robbers were armed. Initially they begged my friend, Favour, and I for money when we were having a conversation at the Abiola Garden, around 8pm on Thursday, September 19, 2019. But I told them we had no money and they went away. All of a sudden, they returned and attacked us. They wanted Favour’s cell phone and the money in my pocket. As I tried to defend myself, they shot me in the stomach and ran away. Favour also abandoned me on the floor and ran away. I haven’t seen her since that night.
What happened after you were shot?
I was just lying on the ground, bleeding and begging some security men around the place for help. After about 30 minutes, the police arrived and asked what happened. I managed to explain to them. They took me in their patrol van to a hospital. I was denied admission in the first two hospitals, but when I saw the DPO at LASUTH, I started begging her to help me. I didn’t want to die.
I was crying when I told the DPO not to leave me. She took pity on me and told the doctors to attend to me. I think they were not willing to attend to me. I guess they wanted the DPO to pay some money before commencing the treatment. And she did everything possible to ensure that I was treated.
I spent between two weeks and three days at the hospital. I never believed that I would be alive today. The first nine days were very challenging for me. I could neither eat nor drink water during that period. It was much later that they started giving me water. It has not been easy, but I thank God that the surgery was successful. Although I still go to the hospital for medical checkups, I am grateful to be alive.
How would you describe the DPO’s action?
The DPO is the angel that God sent to save my life. I am grateful to her. What she did for me is what a mother can only do for her own child. I love her for this.