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HERBALISTS PROBE FOOD POISONING, SUSPECT ON THE RUN

By NBF News
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Four days after she was admitted at Alafia Private Hospital, Adamasingba, Ibadan, Oyo State, after eating pounded yam with egusi soup at a chieftaincy installation ceremony, Mrs Afusat Oladimeji, is still on the verge of death.

This is even as the woman alleged to have served the food, seemed to have disappeared.

Oladimeji, 50, was rushed to the hospital on Saturday May 5, shortly after returning from the ceremony held at Ire-Akari axis of Inalende/Oniyanrin area of Ibadan. She came about the same time another victim, Mrs. Kemi Ogungbe, was brought in for similar diagnosis and treatment.

Twenty eight other victims were treated at Group Medical Practitioners Hospital, Mokola, Oluseun Maternity Private Hospital, Yemetu, University College Hospital (UCH) and some other hospitals all in Ibadan.

Oladimeji, who could barely talk, told Daily Sun on her hospital bed that she and many others were invited to the party by a wife to one of the five persons honoured with chieftaincy titles, who is also a co-trader at Ire-Akari:

'Our shops are very close to each other at Ire-Akari. We went there and drank only soft drinks, because she had earlier sent our food (pounded yam with melon soup). It was when we came back that we ate the food and we all started having the same problem of stomachache and vomiting shortly after eating the food at our different shops. My husband brought me here and I heard others were rushed to different hospitals.

'Perhaps it could be a co-incidence, because nothing happened to some people that ate amala (yam flour) with the melon soup. It was only those that eat pounded yam that were rushed to hospitals.' Another victim of the food poisoning, Mrs Dorcas Ajisafe, 45, said she was discharged from Oluseun Maternity Hospital, Yemetu, alongside her two children, Olaoluwa, 15 and Sayo, 22, a day after they were admitted at the hospital:

'We ate the food together and we were rushed to the hospital after we started having stomachache and vomiting.' She also confirmed not to have seen the woman who gave the food since the day of the incident. Effort to reach the woman to hear her own side of the story, proved abortive as her shop was under lock when Daily Sun visited. None of her neighbours would also talk about her whereabouts.

However, it was gathered that the woman who served the food had been separated from her husband, and that she prepared the food outside the collective arrangement. Chief Abibatu Oyatokun, who spoke on behalf of Chief Lakanpo the Baba Isegun of Oyo State, the man believed to have conferred the five people with traditional chieftaincy titles, on the said day, told Daily Sun that they were highly embarrassed when news filtered in that people had been hospital after eating food at the ceremony: 'You know being traditionalists that we are, it could create bad impressions about us.'

Oyatokun who was conferred with the title of Balogun Isegun of Oyo State also confirmed that the woman and her husband had been separated:

'None of us brought separate food to the occasion. We contributed money among ourselves for the occasion and a cow was killed for the occasion. So, when we heard that people were hospitalized it was very embarrassing.'

She added that the association operated under one umbrella body of Oyo State Chapter of Amalgamation of Nigerian Medical and Herbal Practitioners with Chief Isiaka Okiki as chairman.

Oyatokun, who claimed to have been a traditional herbal medical practitioner for over 25 years, having inherited the trade from her late father added that the association in its effort to get to the root of the matter, had raised a three-man investigative committee, comprising Chief Lakanpo, herself and one other person to unravel the mystery behind the incident.

'From there, we will know what else to do', she said. The state police command spokesperson, Bisi Okuwobi, said the incident had not been brought to her attention.