Controversies over medical bills of Enugu accident victims
There are fresh controversies over the accident involving pupils of Presentation Nursery and Primary School, Awgu, in Enugu State, as parents of victims protest the poor handling of funds released by the governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, for settlement of their medicals bills.
Governor Ugwuanyi personally visited the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH) to sympathise with survivors being treated there, where he also released the sum of N5 million for their treatment and additional cash for other sundry expenses.
But two weeks after the incident, where about eight pupils lost their lives, the parents are grumbling that they have been shortchanged. The money was released to Mrs Jane Eneh, a member of the House of Assembly from the area.
But when The Guardian visited the families last Sunday, none of the parents had received any money spent on laboratory tests, drugs and other treatments the victims received prior to the governor’s visit.
One of the parents and Vicar of St Marks Anglican Church, Awgu, Ven. Victor Oguejiofor, expressed regrets that people were playing politics with their moment of grief. The cleric, who lost a seven-year-old child to the incident, said their pains should not be worsened with unnecessary controversy.
He said: “The Enugu State governor demonstrated uncommon assistance to us. Before he came to the hospital, he had earlier sent his deputy. Then the day he came, he visited all the victims, went round the wards, even the intensive care unit. You needed to see him in the hospital that day, how he carried kids around.
“I lost one of my kids to the accident; two survived, and like I said earlier, the government catered for their medical bills. The only thing people now misinterpreted for their own selfish and political motive is the fact that before the governor came, there were some expenses we had incurred, like CT scan and x-ray.
“I am aware that the governor gave an order that every kobo spent even before his visit should be reimbursed. So, I ask that these little saints should be respected, they should be allowed to rest in peace; their death should not be used to play Enugu politics.”
Another parent, whose child is still being treated at the hospital, with one already discharged, Mr. Ogbonnaya Ugochukwu, said the money spent on drugs and other tests were yet to be refunded, contrary to the governor’s directive.
“One of my kids is still there at UNTH, and we are the one paying for drugs. They are still collecting money from us at the pharmacy; they said we should sort it out later with the government.
Mrs. Chinenyenwa Eze, who lost her only male child but had another survivor from the incident, thanked the state government for coming to their aid, but complained that she was given lesser cash unlike other parents.
“What they gave me when the governor left was half the money they gave other parents. I don’t know the criteria they used because I had two of my kids hospitalised after the incident. Unfortunately, one died a day after the governor visited. We are still battling with the one that survived because we needed to run a CT scan on her. We don’t have money to do it. We heard that the governor released money for all these, but it did not get to us,” she lamented.
When contacted, Mrs Eneh admitted that she actually received N5 million from the state government as well as additional cash for the upkeep of the victims’ families.
She however, said she handed it over to the authorities of the Awgu Catholic Diocese, owners of the school involved in the accident.
The UNTH Catholic Church Chaplain directed inquiries to the secretary of the Diocese, after denying receiving any money from the state government on behalf of the victims.
“I am here on behalf of the Bishop. I did not see any money. But you can direct your enquiries to the Diocesan secretary, Rev Fr. Basil Mba,” he said.
When contacted, Mba pleaded to be given “two seconds” to respond to the enquiries, but never returned the calls and did not return text messages.
Efforts to reach the Bishop of the Diocese, Most Rev John Okoye proved abortive
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