• Emergency workers intensify search for body
What could have made a man, a medical doctor nonetheless, who gave no prior signs of depression, to commit suicide was the question on the lips of Nigerians on Sunday.
Dr. Allwell Orji, a medical doctor with the Papa Ajao branch of Mount Sinai Hospital, had last Sunday evening ordered his driver to park his a X-Trail Nissan Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) with registration number LND476EE on the Third Mainland Bridge before jumping into the lagoon.
As at press time yesterday, his body was yet to be recovered despite efforts from local divers, fishermen and patrol boats from the Lagos State Emergency Management (LASEMA), Lagos State Ferry Services and Lagos Waterways Agency.
A visit to Mt. Sinai Hospital at 35 Olanibi Street, Papa Ajao, Mushin, showed activities were going on normal with the staff attending to the patients on ground.
A member of staff, who refused to disclose his identity, referred THISDAY to their head office at Falolu Street, Surulere.
According to him, although they have branches scattered around Lagos, they run a central administration system, which gives the headquarters the sole discretion to handle administrative issues.
According to his colleagues who worked with him last Friday, he wasn’t in any way depressed.
However, at the headquarters, THISDAY was first directed to a nurse, who left to call the Chief Medical Director (CMD), and came back minutes later to say the CMD wasn’t around.
Given the way she was smiling, THISDAY had immediately smelt a rat and asked for another member of staff to speak with.
While the back and forth talk was going on, a medical officer decked in grey trousers and white and blue stripe shirt, walked up and interceded.
On gaining audience with him, questions on the disposition of the doctor, his medical health, his state of mind on his last appearance in the hospital was asked but no answer was given.
The officer who also declined to reveal his identity, parried every question with ‘no comment’, except when he was asked if the doctor was indeed sacked and he replied in the affirmative.
The next port of call was Abule Ijesha, Yaba, at No. 3 Odunnuku Street, where the doctor resided with his mother.
Attempts to access the green and lime two-storey building proved abortive when two family members accosted THISDAY at the gate.
According to them, the doctor’s mother, a retired banker and a member of Deeper Life Bible Church, was not favourably disposed to talk to journalists.
Refusing to accept the death of her son, she was said to be in her room despite the presence of her church members, who had come to console her.
According to the family members, she was holding on to her faith that he was not dead, merely missing, given that he showed no signs of depression prior to the incident.
A family member who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the media should give them space to deal with the issue in peace, adding that the 35-year-old doctor was not such an introvert that he would be depressed without anyone noticing.
The family said the deceased was the first son of three children; two boys and a girl, adding that the father of the family is late.
Speaking on account of anonymity, a family member said: “His passion was medicine. This is why his death is a mystery given that he was passionate about his field of study.
“Some people might have veered into medicine because they were forced to or due to parental pressure but Allwell was passionate about his job.
“Ask his patients at the hospital, they will testify to that. He was very professional yet had a humane side that cared. That is why we are very confused as to what caused his death.”
THISDAY also went to Third Mainland Bridge, the scene of the accident, and met emergency workers from LASEMA, the Lagos State Ferry Services and Lagos Waterways Agency still on the search for his body.
At the scene of the incident was the General Manager LASEMA, Mr. Adesina Tiamiyu, who said they were still searching the waterways.
He said: “We have expanded our search than where it happened. We engaged local fishermen and divers.
“Also, to assist are the Lagos Ferry Services and the Lagos Waterways Agency patrol boats, which were deployed to the waterways.
“We have informed the residents to look out for floating bodies, and we have also contacted the family and they are still in shock.”
A LASTMA official at the scene of the incident said at this point, they were no longer looking at the incident as a rescue mission rather a recovery mission.
According to her, the distance from where he jumped into the lagoon was very far and since he dived in first with his head, there was every possibility that he hit his head first before his body followed.
She explained that scientifically, although water bodies are porous, jumping into it at that angle and from that distance, the water would likely feel like a stone when it connects with the head.
She said there was every likelihood that he hit his head on the hard surface and he lost consciousness and sank.
When THISDAY also visited the Adeniji Adele Police Division where the driver, Henry Ita, was being held, it was gathered that preliminary investigations were still on.
In an interview with the Divisional Police Officer, SP Ayodele Umujose, he debunked claims that the doctor left behind a suicide note.
He said: “From our preliminary interrogation of the driver, he said his boss received no prior phone call from the time they left home till when they got to the bridge.
“He said their destination was the Marina, where his boss told him they were going. However, when they got to the bridge, he claimed his boss insisted that he should park the car.
“According to him, he had told his boss that the area was too dangerous to park but he insisted, claiming that he was pressed and needed to urinate.
“The driver told us that immediately his boss got down, he moved to the other side of the bridge as if he wanted to urinate and then dived in.”
Also contacted, Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, Olarinde Famous-Cole, said the driver was not arrested, rather he was taken in for questioning, adding that investigations were ongoing.