AFTERMATH OF POLICE SHOOTING
'Oh! I don't know how I'm feeling. They said the chances of my hand's survival are 50-50. I have a wife and two kids. Why me? Why should a policeman do this to me? God knows I did not do anything.'
These were the words of Sunny Okpala as he lay motionless on his sick bed at a private hospital in Lagos where he is currently receiving treatment.
Okpala, who hails from Anambra State, allegedly had his world practically shattered by a trigger-happy policeman, one Idris Samson attached to the Lagos State Transport Management Authority (LASTMA). Samson was said to have fired his gun at Okpala on November 19 2011 in what the authorities have categorized as a case of accidental discharge.
By the time the smoke from the cop's gun had cleared, the entire flesh of the upper biceps of Okpala's left hand was completely gone, leaving only the bones. The incident, which occurred at Mile 2, according to investigations, quickly drew the attention of commercial motorcyclists popularly called okada riders who pursued the policeman as he took to his heels after firing the deadly shot.
Even though he may lose his hand, Okpala is still grateful that he's alive. The man narrated his miraculous escape to our correspondent.
His words: 'I was coming from around Orile. When I got to Mile 2, I wanted to turn, because Julius Berger had diverted the movement of vehicles going towards Apapa. There was a vehicle in my front. Suddenly, this policeman just came to my side and asked me to park and come down. As I was trying to park the vehicle off the road to come down from the car, the next thing I heard was gboa! He had fired the gun he was holding.
'Then he started running away and people were pursuing him. He raised his gun to scare them away. That was all I could see. It was the following day on Sunday that I learnt that he had been caught and was being detained at the Festac Police Station.
'The people around, mostly okada riders came to my rescue. They tore my shirt and used it to cover the wound where blood was flowing like tap water. I was first taken to Golden Cross Hospital in Festac where they gave me the first aid. It was there that the police came with two of their vans to clear the road when they were taking me to the Navy Hospital in order to save my life.
At the Navy hospital, they said the x-ray machine was not in order. Then they moved me to the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi Araba. There we were told there was no electricity, therefore, they could not attend to me. When the policemen discovered that I was losing too much blood they said I should be taken to the General hospital, Ikeja. Unfortunately when we got there they said there was no vacant bed.
'They then moved me to the orthopaedic hospital, Igbobi. At Igbobi, they removed the first aid treatment given to me at Festac. That was where they dropped the bombshell. They said my hand would have to be amputated because the bullet had chopped off the entire flesh. When my brother heard about this sad news, he suggested that we should try another hospital. That was how they brought me to this place.'
Already, Okpala has been operated upon in an intricate operation which involved slicing part of the flesh of his thigh to fill the gulf created by the bullet in his upper hand. In spite of the operation, Okpala has appealed to Nigerians to come to his aid and pray for him to survive this trauma with his two hands.
'They told me that the chances are 50-50. Who will take care of my family', he lamented.
In spite of the agony, Okpala while thanking God, was still amazed how he managed to escape death by the whiskers. 'Honestly, I still wonder if I'm still alive. How the bullet missed my chest still remains a mystery considering the closeness.'
Okpala's elder brother, Uche Okpala, who has temporarily relocated to Lagos from his base in Onitsha, explained the collective pains of the family since the terrible incident. According to him, it is the hope of the family that the hand would survive, recalling that the family is praying fervently about it.
'We have not told our mother about this problem. It will be difficult for her to bear. It has been quite tough coping since I came six days ago. The children and his wife are always crying anytime they are here. Apart from the emotional trauma, the financial burden has been quite enormous. The first operation was performed yesterday. We have spent about N1ma and more bills are still coming', he said.
So how have they been raising the money? He said friends and some family members have been of assistance. He, said, however, that although representatives of the police have visited him on his sick bed, there has been no financial assistance from the cops. But they have been making promises,' he noted.
'As at now, there is no concrete response from the police financially. But they have visited to express their sympathy and also assured that they will communicate the matter to the higher authorities for appropriate action. Within one week, we have spent up to N1million naira. Nobody knows when the police aid will come, yet the hospital people will not do anything unless the money is on ground,' he said.
His wife Amaka Okpala was full of tears when Daily Sun visited the hospital. She was too shocked as she repeatedly said: 'Hei, why have they done this to my husband?'
Our reporter learnt that the spot where Okpala was shot has been a haven of extortion from motorists by policemen, who hide at a corner on a daily basis from where they lay ambush for their innocent prey.
Police spokesman in Lagos State, Mr. Samuel Jinadu, who confirmed the incident, said the culprit had been apprehended and was now being detained by the police authorities. He assured that justice would be, adding that investigations were already being carried out by the police