LET us, today, forget the many disturbing and cheerless typical Nigerian stories – floods, mur- ders, kidnappings, failed roads and fake news, including the imaginary battle for the president’s “other room.” Let’s, instead, consider something more edifying and ennobling. Let’s celebrate a gem of the Nigeria Police who recently brought smiles to the faces of many people with her large heart. Bad news, sorry to say, will always be around for analysis, but it is not every day that we have heartwarming news from our security agencies. Celestina Kalu, Divisional Police Offi- cer of the Ogudu Division of the Lagos State Po- lice Command recently did for the Nigeria Police what a thousand press releases from its public relations departments cannot do. Her exemplary conduct and the great lengths to which she went to save the victim of an armed robbery victim in Lagos is the stuff of which movies are made.
While many Nigerians would gladly swear by their mother’s last wrapper that the average Nigerian police officer is corrupt, selfish, selfcentred and unready to do his/her work without adequate “financial mobilisation”, Kalu, going by accounts of the missionary zeal with which she attended to the case in question, glaringly went beyond the call of duty and demonstrated both the mother and fine officer in her by deploying her time, energy and personal funds into the effort to keep the victim alive.
Kalu was at her duty post in the evening of September 19 somewhere in the Ogudu Police Division of Lagos State when she received information from the control room that a young man was seen lying in a pool of his own blood somewhere around Abiola Gardens in Alausa area of Lagos. Apparently someone who loved being on top of her duties, she immediately dispatched a patrol team to go and investigate the incident. The team confirmed that a young man had been shot by armed robbers there. She, therefore, instructed her men to take the man, who was identified as Friday Ajabor, and had been shot in the stomach by the robbers, to the General Hospital, Gbagada, Lagos, for treat- ment.
And, that was when the drama of the nation’s poor health care sector began unfolding. Please, pray fervently never to be in desperate need of health care anywhere in the country, because that is when you will realise the precarious con- dition of health services in country. Gbagada General Hospital said it lacked the facilities to treat the bleeding armed robbery victim but gave him first aid and directed that he be taken to the Federal Medical Centre (FMC) at Ebute Meta. The police patrol team, taking a cue from the diligence of their superior officer, immedi- ately rushed Ajabor to the FMC at Ebute Meta, where he was again rejected for want of bed space. Lack of bed space is a ready excuse by Nigerian public hospitals for rejecting patients whose lives are in the balance and in need of urgent medical treatment.
Undeterred, Officer Kalu then directed her men to rush Ajabor to the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LASUTH at Ikeja. She also rushed to the sachet water packaging company where he worked to seek money for his treat- ment but the company could not offer any assistance. Hence, she rushed back to her office to take her personal money and her ATM card, and again from there, to LASUTH to see the victim.
At LASUTH, she was confronted with the same “no bed space” saga as the injured man was being treated inside the patrol car. The man, who had been bleeding for three hours, was being packaged for referral to yet another hospital that midnight, when Officer Kalu stepped in and demanded that he must be treated in LASUTH, as he had already lost so much blood. She angrily instructed her men to drop him with the doctors at the Surgical and Emergency Centre of the hos- pital, which made the doctors to eventually agree to treat the victim.
Although she was only required, as per police rules, to direct her men to take the victim to the hospital, she went several steps ahead by giving her address and phone number to the hospital workers and even stayed with the victim till morning, as he kept begging her not to leave him. She also had to pay for the drip (infusion) and ev- ery other thing he needed that night and thereafter. She ended up spending N400,000 of her own money, in the first instance, and eventually paid almost N1.5 million for the treatment during the over two weeks the victim spent on admission. She not only spent money, she also offered, along- side her men, to donate blood when the hospital said it had no O+ blood in its blood bank. But the hospital said it was too late that night to start tak- ing blood so she had to pay for four pints of blood on the night of the incident. Even her efforts to get one of his family members to bring money for the treatment did not yield any result.
Officer Kalu had to take the begging bowl, requesting for money for the treatment from her friends, church members, colleagues, neighbours etc. Even the popular musician, Ruggedman, who visited this outstanding policewoman for another issue was encouraged to donate money and he did. He also posted the story online and it went viral. Kalu has since been recognised and given an award by the Lagos State Governor, Babajide
Sanwo-Olu. It is no wonder, then, that the victim, Friday Ajabor, has described Kalu as an angel sent by God to save his life. And, an angel, she is indeed, because without her timely intervention, and the N200,000 she was able to cough out in the midnight of September 19, the gunshot victim would have died.
So many issues come out for mention in this case. First, it is important to commend Officer Kalu for her selflessness and for going beyond the line of duty to save Friday’s life. It is surprising to see a policeman who can use her personal funds to sponsor the treatment of a less privileged person who needed emergency treatment. I also commend the police team she worked with, because they could have scuttled her good initiative, if they did not support her plan to save the man’s life
One very important issue here is also the state of our public hospitals. It is no surprise that there are hardly ever bed spaces in these hospitals. The different levels of government, over the years, have not demonstrated an ap- preciation of the need to build many more hos- pitals, in spite of the exponential increase in the population of the country. Even the existing hospitals are neither properly funded nor run, leading to a situation where patients have to either pay for, or even arrange to buy, every item needed for their own treatment. Imagine where an accident victim is required to pay for blood and drip (infusion), even when none of his/her family member is aware that he/she is in such a critical state. All government hospitals ought to be properly provided for. The fa- cilities should be expanded, and more doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel engaged.
Kalu is a fine example of a good police officer. She has great respect for human life, the lack of which is responsible for most of the problems in the country today. Her uncommon demonstration of both the spirit and let- ters of good policing is worthy of emulation by all public officers.