A surgeon at the National Orthopedic Hospital, Igbobi, Chungjoe Christopher, has told the Lagos Judicial Panel of Inquiry that a petitioner before it stands the risk of leg cancer and amputation after her experience in the hands of the Nigerian Police.
Mr Christopher, who is a consultant orthopaedic and trauma surgeon, explained this to the panel on Tuesday while testifying in the case of Gloria Ezeh, a victim of police brutality.
Mrs Ezeh, a middle-aged woman, had earlier approached the panel and narrated how a police officer ran over her leg with a van because she could not pay N100,000 bribe demanded by the police.
She was led in evidence by her lawyer, John Nwoku, who prayed the panel to summon the orthopaedic surgeon as a witness in the matter.
“She sustained a roll-over injury on the foot, there was missing bone, compromised soft tissue envelope. The tendons had to be removed,” the doctor said, showing the panel pictures from a flash drive and the scan.
The petitioner, who experienced the police brutality 15 years ago, still suffers the pain of an infected leg and unequal limb because she had not accessed quality health care, the doctor explained.
Narrating her ordeal to the panel earlier, Mrs Ezeh said she met with the “brutal” police officers on June 23, 2006, on her way back from Okokomaiko where she went to purchase products for her business.
The petitioner said she had a shop at Agric bus stop, Ikorodu, and she is a wholesaler dealing in cooking products, majorly groundnut oil.
“On June 23, 2006, I was coming back from Okokomaiko where I went to buy groundnut oil for my shop. It was already late and getting to Mile 2, police arrest the driver that carried my goods and demand money from him.”
Mrs Ezeh explained that the driver told the police he didn’t have money and pleaded with the police from 9 p.m. to 12 a.m., but the officers did not listen.
“The driver told me the police want to collect N100,000. I said N100,000 for what. They collected the key from the driver and said I should come out and enter their van. As I enter their van, I asked the police what is the problem and he said when I get to the station, I will know what the problem was,” she said.
The petitioner said on getting to the Olodi Apapa station, the patrol officers that took them drove off and handed her to another officer, called Inspector Ayeni.
“The officer still asked for N100,000. I said it is only N5,000 I have with me and he said no. I said we are going to Ikorodu and the place is far.
“They said I should go away from the police station, I said it is already 12 midnight, and that they should put me inside cell to pass the night. So that I call my people to bring money in the morning.
Mrs Ezeh said the officer insisted that she leaves the station that midnight and she knelt down begging Mr Ayeni that Ikorodu was a far distance.
“What I just saw is that the man started the vehicle, that if I don’t go away from there he will kill me. I was still pleading that he should lock me inside the cell, before I know it, he crushed my leg with the vehicle. The other man (driver) jumped, I didn’t know the vehicle was near me, that was how he ‘pieces’ my leg and I was shouting,” she narrated.
Mrs Ezeh said she was rushed to a nearby hospital but there was no one to attend to her before she was taken to another hospital where she was treated and later discharged before she went to Igbobi.
While testifying in the petitioner’s case on Tuesday, Mr Christopher said she was presented at Igbobi Hospital on February 26, 2007, seven months after the incident occurred.
“She presented at Igbobi in 2007 before I started working there. She was treated by a senior colleague and all the patients of that senior colleague were passed on to me because he has retired.
“She sustained a roll-over injury on the foot, there was missing bone, compromised soft tissue envelope. The tenors had to be removed,” the doctor said.
Mr Christopher said the petitioner’s tendons were also exposed and infected at the time she was brought to the hospital and to curtail the infection, the bone had to be cut off.
“Because of the injury she has suffered, she has a chronic foot ulcer which does not heal. If there is indolence for 15 years, the risk of that is that it could become cancerous. She also has limb shortening as a result of bone loss.”
Already 15 years since she has been going about with the condition, Mr Christopher said she has to be screened for cancer and if detected, could result in amputation of the leg.
The doctor said the uncontrolled infection the woman has caused the injury not to heal as it constantly brings out pus.
Although her conditions could be corrected through a surgery, the doctor said the petitioner had not been able to meet up with the cost of the surgery which is about N4 to N5 million.
“She requires a surgery to remove the infected tissue and perform a reconstruction. She needs bone excision to equalise limb leg. Amputation is a possibility if she is cancerous,” he told the panel.
Stating her demands, Mrs Ezeh pleaded with the panel to investigate the matter and bring the officer that caused her a lifelong injury, Mr Ayeni, to book.
She also asked the panel for a financial relief of N13 million to cater for surgery, medical treatments and other expenses she requires to correct the leg.
Mrs Ezeh also urged the panel to compensate her for the trauma she has suffered in the past 15 years, adding that she has been impoverished by the condition.