We won’t bury our son until we know what killed him —Family of corps member who died in Kebbi

Lawrence Omolare

THE parents of the 24-year-old corps member, Lawrence Omolare, who died, last week, in Kebbi State are not ready to bid their son farewell yet – at least not until after the circumstances that led to his death have been unravelled.

Lawrence had completed his Higher National Diploma (HND) in Accounting from The Polytechnic, Ibadan and was mobilised for national service with Batch A in May 2017. He was posted to Kebbi State and his place of primary assignment was Yauri.

Popularly called “De Law” by his friends and mates, Lawrence was reported ill to his parents on Friday, July 21 and by dawn of Saturday, July 22, his father learnt of his death.

The family, who reportedly sent money for Lawrence’s medicals, were said to have kept a line of contact open with his mates but they were dealt the final blow with the death of their son.

“We heard different versions of the circumstances that led to Lawrence’s death. And all these stories happened within one hour. First, we were told that he had malaria fever and was being treated by his colleagues only to be told later that it was typhoid fever.

“One of the reports we heard said he couldn’t attend the weekly Community Development (CD) meeting last week. They said when one of his colleagues attempted to sign his form on his behalf, the CLO queried the decision and that was what got the NYSC officially informed of his ailment.

“Another version had it that he was actually admitted to a hospital on Friday and died on the same day. Yet another version of the story said Lawrence collapsed and died on the passage of their house.

“But the death certificate issued by the Federal Medical Centre, Birnin Kebbi, informed that he was admitted on Saturday, July 22, 2017 and died on the same day. So, which hospital was he taken to before he was admitted to FMC, Birnin Kebbi? Or was it that he was admitted to FMC, Birnin Kebbi, and was about to be transferred to a better hospital? I think certain things should be revealed to forestall future occurrence.

“We want to know what happened and how our son actually died. The deed has been done but we have concluded that certain things were not right about the whole incident. We deserve to know what actually happened.

“We have made our position known  the NYSC and we’re ready to cooperate to ensure that is achieved. The burial mass scheduled for this morning has been cancelled to enable us to take care of all this.”

These were the words of a cousin of the father of the deceased, Mr Dele Oguntayo, who disclosed that the family was not comfortable with reports that have trailed the death of Lawrence.

The decision of the family to put the burial on hold was said to have also been informed by their lack of satisfaction with the contents of the death certificate. The details in the document were said to have been found inadequate to ascertain the cause of Lawrence’s death.

The family had initially resigned to fate and was prepared to bury their child with a mass scheduled for 11.00 a.m. in a Catholic church in the Agbowo area of Ibadan, Oyo State, on Thursday. They had visited the state secretariat of the NYSC at Agodi, Ibadan, on Thursday to receive the body which, did not arrive until around 1.00 a.m.

The corpse was borne in a brown wooden casket in a white ambulance belonging to the Kebbi State Ministry of Health marked KB 122 A08, accompanied by an official of NYSC identified as Mr Alaba D.F., an Assistant Chief Inspector and a driver.

But upon the arrival of the corpse, the family’s representatives said that the death certificate issued by one Dr Oyegbile was not satisfactory enough to determine the true cause of Lawrence’s death. The family thereafter held two meetings with the representatives of NYSC, including Mr Alaba and another official from Oyo State office of the agency, one Mrs Kolade.

At the first meeting, the family insisted on having a post-mortem conducted on the body. Mrs Kolade’s plea to allow the corpse to be buried fell on the deaf ears of the family representatives who also made telephone contacts with other members not present.

Mr Oguntayo then expressed the discomfort of the family with the conflicting reports of how and where Lawrence died and gave the final position of the family as being the conduct of a post-mortem.

The medical certificate issued by Dr Oyegbile on Monday, July 24, had it that Lawrence died of “acute viral hepatitis.” During the second meeting, Mrs Kolade, almost on her knees, continued her appeal to the family on the need to lay the body of Lawrence to rest as early as possible but the representatives of the Omolare family maintained their stand on having a post-mortem carried out before the burial.

When contacted, the Public Relations Officer of NYSC in Oyo State, Mr Bankole Simeon, who is currently at the Iseyin Orientation Camp, said he was not around when the matter came up but said capable officials of the agency were on the ground.

An NYSC official in Kebbi State, who spoke under the condition of anonymity, absolved NYSC of any wrongdoings. He said the directorate had always made it known to corps members to always report their health issues to the appropriate quarters. He noted that in the case of Omolare, NYSC did everything in its capacity to save his life.

“The corps member in question had his orientation here in the state under our care and was posted to his place of primary assignment. The practice, according to the regulation of NYSC, is that corps members report any issue, including health, to the appropriate officials, up to the highest hierarchy, as the case may be. We tell them to always inform us of any impending challenges facing them.

“Unfortunately, in Lawrence’s case, we did our best by taking him to the General Hospital, Yauri and Federal Medical Centre, Birnin Kebbi, where he was confirmed dead. We did our best to save his life and God knows this. Our staff strived to ensure he lived but God had His way. It is very unfortunate,” the NYSC official said.

The remains of Lawrence, Saturday Tribune gathered, was agreed to be deposited at the morgue of the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, to allow for post-mortem at an agreed date and hospital by the officials and the representatives of the Omolare family.

His death, like those of several other corps members across the country, has come with controversies.

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