A very fair skin with a face adorned with tribal marks and tattooed eyebrows would have made one conclude that 57-year-old Mrs. Roselyn Adewunmi is hale and hearty, as she sat on a corner bed in Ward B1 of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital.
Merely looking at her sitting on the bed, one would conclude that she is simply a patient with a minor problem who would soon be discharged.
But all is far from being well with the woman, who once worked as a cleaner at the National Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos.
In fact, in the last 10 months, Adewunmi has been confined to her bed, not able to walk. She cannot move on her bed without support while she cannot go to the toilet by herself. She has had to use disposable briefs to ease herself, which are costing her heavily financially.
Anybody who has not heard her story before might have thought she was stricken by a terrible illness that rendered her immobile but that is far from the truth.
Her trouble started in the evening of May 1, 2015, when she decided to sit in front of her tiny plank house at Badia East Oke-Eri community at Ijora, Apapa to take fresh air with one of her daughters around 8.45pm.
Operatives of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad were said to have stormed the area in pursuit of some hoodlums when they started shooting sporadically.
A resident of the area identified as Nwane was said to have been shot dead in the raid.
Adewunmi, a widow and mother of five, was hit by bullets before she even heard the sound of gunshots.
“I did not even know about any shooting. I did not hear any sound initially; maybe because our area is generally noisy. What I heard was my daughter screaming and pointing at me. She was screaming ‘blood, blood!’” Adewunmi said on her hospital bed.
The woman had been shot in the lower abdomen and the thigh.
Saturday PUNCH learnt that when Adewunmi’s daughter raised the alarm, residents who ran out to find out what had happened, including one of her sons, sighted one of the sars operatives, identified as Mohammed Abubakar, who reportedly shot her nearby and approached the man.
“We approached the policeman and he said that he fired the shot by mistake. His colleagues were there too. They brought a patrol van and said they were after a robber.
My mother was bleeding on the ground. They still did not make any attempt to help her,” Adewunmi’s son, Seun, said.
Adewunmi also said that when they made no attempt to help her, she crawled to meet the policeman who shot her and held him, begging for help.
She said, “My son first went to meet them. But they pushed him back. The policemen said I should not worry that I would be alright. They said the bullet would come out.
“I was pleading with them. I said, ‘please, please don’t leave me like this. Don’t let me die.’ But he pulled away from me. Then one of the colleagues of the one that shot the bullet that hit me spoke to him in Hausa. Then they jumped inside their vans and left.”
Adewunmi was left in a pool of her own blood.
Seun was said to have put his mother on his back as he rushed her from one hospital to another as she continued to bleed. They could not get a vehicle to take her.
It was learnt that the divisional police officer of the area had to come to the aid the woman and helped residents of the area to take her to the hospital.
“Three hospitals rejected me that day until I was finally brought to luth where my life was saved,” she told our correspondent.
Adewunmi said residents of her community also had to contribute money for her initial treatment at the hospital.
Soon after Adewunmi got to the hospital, she told our correspondent that some men, who said they were from sars, including Mohammed, the man who shot her, visited her in the hospital and handed her N30,000 for her treatment.
Adewunmi’s son said Mohammed later met him and gave him another N40,000 for the treatment. But these have been like a drop in an ocean of the huge medical bills mounting against her.
“When the sars men came, they told me they contributed the money among themselves to help with the medical treatment. They also said that they would come back later with beverages so that I won’t have to suffer. I did not know they only came to check if I would survive or not. They never came back,” Adewunmi said.
Unfortunately for Adewunmi, as her fund waned, her situation deteriorated, leaving her children running from pillar to post, scrounging for money just to continue their mother’s treatment.
Doctors said the initial treatment was to save her life and that she would require additional reconstructive surgeries in her abdomen.
At a point in her discussion with our correspondent, Adewunmi began to sob.
She said, “Life has been hard for me. I don’t want to die like this. My situation is not getting better because I don’t have money to spend on treatment again.
This bed has been my home now for eight months.
“I used to have a shop where I sold things.
My children would have been able to run it in my absence to get some money to survive on. But last year after I was admitted, the shop burnt down with all the goods when there was a fire outbreak in our community.
“Even my family members have deserted me. I just don’t know where to run to now but to call upon the police authorities, whose men did this to me to help me.
Please, help me call on the police authorities, I don’t want to die like this. They need to see what their bullets have done to me.”
When our correspondent visited the woman, the sight of the gunshot injury in her abdomen was too gory to be publishable.
Adewunmi’s children have said they they are preparing a petition to the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Fatai Owoseni, on their mother’s plight.
The Esther Child Rights Foundation, which has decided to take up the woman’s case even though it is not a child issue, has called on the police authorities in the state to take a step on the woman’s case.
Director of ECRF, Mrs. Esther Ogwu, said, “We keep hearing of cases of people becoming victims of police accidental discharge everyday and it is really worrisome.
“We are using this opportunity to call on the commissioner of police in Lagos to fish out the policemen whose act has made this woman’s life a living hell.
“The way she is living is terrible. Suffering over the last 10 months is not a thing to wish on anybody. We are going to notify the Office of the Public Defender and the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights about her case. We are sure justice would be done on the issue.”