Search continues for Orji’s body in Lagos lagoon
• Widowed mother yet to accept her only son is dead
• Please respect our grief, family tells Nigerians
Nearly 48 hours after Dr. Allwell Orji, a medical practitioner with Mount Sinai Hospital, Papa Ajao, Mushin, jumped into the lagoon from the Third Mainland Bridge, emergency responders have continued to comb the lagoon in search of the doctor’s body to no avail.
Orji had on Sunday evening ordered his driver to park his car, a Nissan Sports Utility Vehicle with registration number LND476EE at the Third Mainland Bridge before jumping into the water.
Yesterday, emergency workers, police and local divers were at the scene all through the day with different patrol boats searching tirelessly to recover the body of the 35-year-old man.
According to the General Manager of the Lagos State Emergency Management (LASEMA), Mr. Adesina Tiamiyu, who was at the scene of the incident, they were still searching the waterways.
“We have expanded our search to go further than where it happened. We also engaged local fishermen and divers,” he said. Also assisting were the Lagos Ferry Services and the Lagos Waterways Agency patrol boats, which were deployed to the waterways.
“We have informed the residents to look out for floating bodies, and we have also contacted the family and they are still in shock.” An official of the agency at the scene of the incident said at this point, they were no longer looking at the incident as a rescue mission, but rather as a recovery mission.
According to her, the distance from where he dived into the lagoon was very far and since he dived in first with his head, there was every possibility that he hit his head first before his body followed.
She explained that jumping into the water from that distance, the water would likely feel like a stone when it connects with the head, leading to unconsciousness. A visit to Mt. Sinai Hospital at Papa Ajao, Mushin, where he worked was met with no airs of concern as activities went on as usual, with the hospital workers attending to the patients on ground.
Members of staff referred The Guardian to their head office at Falolu Street, Surulere. At Surulere, the medical personnel at the head office also declined comments. The next port of call was the deceased’s residence at No. 3 Odunnuku Street, Abule Ijesha, where he lived with his mother.
Attempts to access the two-storey building also proved abortive as family members denied newsmen access. According to the family, “the media should give us space to deal with this issue in peace.
“Please, respect our grief. This is a difficult time for us and we don’t want to make comments on this issue. It is not something to be celebrated. We are believing that he’s still alive. God still does miracles,” were the words of a man described as a father figure to Orji.
Explaining reason for the decision, the man said: “The mother is up there, not talking to anyone. Not even us who are very close relatives. People have been around her since yesterday so that she doesn’t do anything drastic.
“She is yet to accept that he could be dead. She doesn’t even accept people’s sympathies and condolences. As a Christian, she’s believing God that a miracle could happen and that her son is alive. She believes he’s just missing and would return alive.
Orji lived with his widowed mother, Mrs. Chinyere Orji, a retired banker at the Abule Ijesha residence. The medical doctor was the first of the woman’s three children, and was unmarried.
It was still a shock to many of the mourners, who visited to console with the family as they said the doctor was not such an introvert that he would be depressed without anyone noticing.
Mrs. Orji, a member of the Deeper Christian Life Ministry, also known as Deeper Life Church, was said to be locked up in her room despite the presence of her church members, who had come in large numbers to console her.
Neighbours described the doctor as an extrovert, who was very kind and took his job with a high sense of dignity and professionalism. Meanwhile, the police have debunked claims that the victim wrote a suicide note and that he had received a call before he jumped into the lagoon.
According to the statement by the driver, who is presently at Adeniji Adele Police Division, his boss had told him to park so he could urinate. He said he obeyed because he had no premonition of what action his boss wanted to take. He said it was to his chagrin that his boss jumped into the lagoon before he could prevent him.
Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, Olarinde Famous-Cole, said the driver was not arrested, rather he was taken in for questioning, adding that investigations were ongoing.