Izete Jeremiah, a fifty-seven-year-old farmer, has been shot in the mouth by gun-totting criminals masquerading as herdsmen at Odiguete village, Ovia North-East Local Government Area of Edo State on April 7.
The man can no longer speak with his mouth and he eats through the aid of a pipe at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital, UBTH, Benin City, where the doctors are battling to save his life.
The gunmen who stormed the village shot five persons dead on the spot. Jeremiah, a father of six children and a friend were sitting on a motorcycle after returning from the farm in the evening when the ugly incident occurred.
Jeremiah, who hails from Kwale, Ndokwa West area of Delta State, was shot in his mouth, lost part of his jaw and cheek bone in the process and several others sustained various degrees of injuries.
Sympathizers first rushed him to a hospital near Ondo State from where he was later referred to the University of Benin Teaching Hospital, UBTH.
When NDV visited him at the male surgical ward, B2, UBTH, Jeremiah could only gesticulate and nod while the entire lower region of his face was heavily bandaged.
Wife narrates dilemma
His wife, Mrs. Mabel Jeremiah said: “We have been at the hospital since April 7. My husband cannot speak and eat, except through the nose with the aid of a pipe. We have spent all our savings and even borrowed. We do not have money now; even the drugs they gave us were bought by relatives of patients through contributions.
“We have spent over N500, 000, excluding hospital bills. Now he has to undergo surgery on the damaged jaw so that he can eat and talk and they need over N800, 000.
“So, to buy the artificial jaw plate is about N500, 000; they have not told us the cost of the surgery, and we still have a hospital bill to pay. We need help from well-meaning individuals to be able to carry out the surgery.
SOS to Obaseki, Okowa
“I am also calling on Governor Godwin Obaseki to come to our aid so that my husband can get well and take care of his family. Things have been very difficult for us. I also appeal to the governor of our state, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, to come to our aid.
How it happened
“My husband and another man were sitting on a motorcycle before the attack from the Fulani herdsmen. When they came, they saw them and asked if this is where they are planning against them (Fulani herdsmen).
“They first shot the other one in the chest, and shot my husband at the side of his mouth. He collapsed but after some time, he regained consciousness and ran to the road, where he was taken to the next village and from there we were referred to UBTH.
“We are farmers with six children, two of the older ones are out of school and four younger ones are still in school. The hospital said they will operate on him and fix rubber for him to be able to eat by himself. We have spent everything we have, we are appealing to well-meaning Nigerians and organisations to assist us because we cannot pay the money. We are from Kwale, Ndokwa West Local Government Area, Delta State,” she said.
Mrs. Jeremiah disclosed that the community had been under siege by herdsmen.
Consultant handling Jeremiah’s case, Dr. Samuel Adetunji, told NDV: “Jeremiah was brought to us as a victim of a bullet wound, we have been managing him since then. From the state, he came to the state he is now. He had the bone of his lower jaw shattered.
“He also had some of his tissues removed, he also had a wound because the gunshot went from the right side of his face to the left side, then it came out at the left side, it took some flesh from there that makes it possible to see from the right side through his mouth to the other side of his mouth.
“As it is now, we have been treating that wound and we have moved from the state of infection to the state where everything is quiet now, but the bone that was destroyed as a result of that incident from one angle to another angle remains the way it is, and needs to be reconstructed. That is the stage we are at and we have been stalled financially.
Implant to move jaws
“He needs an implant that will be able to assist him move the jaws, because his tongue do fall back to block his air waves, that implant helps to move his tongue, we will also try to repair other lost tissues and getting the implant should be around N600,000. He has been in the hospital for some time now and there have been some accumulated bills, together with the cost of surgery, we should be talking about N900,000.
“We have the facilities to carry out the surgery, what we can do is what we will do for him, he is not going to be referred to any other hospital for the treatment,” he said.
Asked if it is life-threatening, Dr. Adetunji replied: “I would not say it is life-threatening because we have moved from that position, but not having a support for his jaw bones may put him at risk because he would suddenly wake up in the middle of the night, when that tongue falls back, blocking his air waves. Apart from that, we also have the roof of his mouth involved in the injuries and also needs to be repaired.”
Can be deadly
“So, while I cannot say he is in a critical stage, he needs the surgery to improve on his living condition because he cannot feed from his mouth; when he feeds through his mouth, food particles come out from different places, even through the nose, and that on its own is life- threatening.
“Because of that, we passed a tube through his nose to his stomach. That is the best we can do for him now until after the surgery.”
Is the operation a permanent or temporary solution? NDV asked. He elucidated: “That is the best he can get. So, it is a permanent solution, the sight of the effect cannot be like that of a normal body, but we can restore as much as we can restore, parts of the bones that were shattered, we may not be able to get everything back to normal, but his quality of life will definitely improve.
N2.5 m for surgery, rehabilitation
NDV gathered that Jeremiah would need not less than N2.5 million to undergo expected surgeries and rehabilitation.