Okpeku Family Cries for Justice


The Okpeku Family has called on the Government and law enforcement agencies, to thoroughly investigate the mysterious death of their son, Uhiosanobua Emmanuel Okpeku at the National Maritime University, Okerenkoko Delta State.

The University authorities has claimed in a press statement issued on March 12, 2021, that Uhiosanobua Emmanuel Okpeku, a promising 20-year-old Nigerian died on 7th March, 2021 after falling ill while in the custody of the NMU. In the press release signed by the Registrar of the NMU, Dr. Alfred Mulade, the NMU inferred that Uhi was diagnosed with Covid-19 symptoms, and that they followed Covid-19 protocols in responding to the situation until the eventual death of our beloved Uhi.

The family of the deceased however, refuted the claim, and pointed out that facts show that the hierarchy of the NMU acted negligently in responding to the medical situation reported by Uhi.

The Okpeku family in a press statement stated that :-

1. Uhi fell ill on 28th February, 2021 and visited the MNU Health Centre on the 1st of March. He returned on the 2nd of March as he was not feeling any better, and was in very bad shape. He was therein admitted. His family was not aware until 3rd of March, 2021, when his uncle, Ose Okpeku who is resident in Lagos, made a random call to him during which he informed his uncle that he was at the Health Centre and in very bad shape, as he had been unable to eat and had attendant pains and fever. Questions posed by his uncle as to the symptoms he had and the treatment he had received and the answers by Uhi which were alarming, compelled Ose Okpeku to request to speak with the medical personnel on duty at the said time. The said medical personnel was unable to provide any sense of direction as to what exactly was wrong with Uhi, and the treatment required. He however, mentioned to Ose Okpeku that Uhi displayed some symptoms of Covid -19 and that they were sending him to Central Hospital Warri for Covid-19 test. Realising that he was being sent unaccompanied on a two-hour boat ride, his uncle insisted that he ought to be accompanied by a medical personnel from the Health Centre. When the Health Centre was not forthcoming, his friend volunteered to go with him. If his friend had not so volunteered, Uhi would have had to make that 2-hour boat journey alone, in a very bad condition, both physically and psychologically. This we dare say, is against all known patient care protocol.

2. Contrary to NMU’s claim that arrangement was made for Uhi to go to Warri and land in the waiting hands of the Local Government Focal Person, it was a family member who provided the funds required to transport Uhi and his friend from the University Health Centre to Warri. Upon arriving Warri on 3rd March, 2021, the same Uhi who was supposedly expected by the Local Government Focal Person could not be attended to at the Warri Central Hospital as he was told that the unit had closed for the day, and so he and his friend had to stay at a hotel. A family member funded the bill as well, as we have the proof of transfer of funds. Uhi’s sample and that of his friend were taken on the 4th of March, and they were asked to leave.

3. The NMU asserted that Uhi and his friend abandoned the drugs that Uhi was given, at the jetty. This is not only ridiculous but beggars’ common sense, as NMU had none of its medical personnel in attendance. The absence of a medical personnel on this medical trip is even more disturbing considering the state Uhi was in physically, and otherwise having been seriously unwell and unable to eat for three days.

4. When the family made an assessment of the way things were looking, considering the little or no care he had received thus far, and his overall physical condition, arrangements were made for Uhi to be taken to Stella Obasanjo Hospital, Benin where he was admitted and another Covid-19 test was conducted. The result had not come out as at 7th March, 2021 when Uhi passed on.

5. Contrary to the assertion of NMU, the family arranged for Uhi to be transferred to Benin, and paid all the medical bills at Stella Obasanjo Hospital.

6. With the sudden turn of events, the family requested for a post mortem examination to determine the cause of death, while the NMU made a press release on 12th March, 2021, same date Uhi was buried, claiming that he died from Covid-19 complications.

7. As at the time the NMU released the aforementioned press statement, the Covid-19 test results were not out. The family is shocked and deeply saddened that such conclusion can be reached and broadcasted, in the absence of any medical support.

8. The Covid test result from Benin is now out, and it shows that Uhi did not contact Covid-19 as alleged by the NMU. The family has since been requesting for the result of the test from Central Hospital Warri, and against all known protocols was informed that the test result had been sent directly to a doctor at the NMU.

9. It is our candid belief that the management of NMU is playing games with the family and are orchestrating a grand plot to cover-up the circumstances that led to the avoidable death of Uhi, in a bid to avoid the legal consequences of their negligence and breach of duty of care in the way and manner Uhi’s illness was managed by the NMU.