BY: Frankie Ifop
The member representing Obudu State Constituency in the Cross River State House of Assembly, Hon. Godwin Akwaji, was reported to have died from symptoms suspected to be Coronavirus (COVID-19) at the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, UCTH Isolation Centre on Thursday, June 18, 2020.
But, his Media Assistant, Elijah Ugani, on behalf of the Akwaji’s family, has denied and debunked the news that Akwaji died of suspected symptoms of COVID-19.
In a rejoinder signed by Ugani on behalf of the family with the title “Re: Hon. Dr. Godwin Akwaji, Obudu State House of Assembly Member dies at UCTH, symptoms suspected to be COVID-19”, on Tuesday and made available to PARADISE NEWS, he said the Lawmaker had waded into the crisis that rocked the disbursement of compensation for land for the construction of a Cargo Airport in Obudu.
Ugani also added that Akwaji took ill earlier this month while attending a stakeholders meeting in Obudu. On his returning to Calabar, the situation worsen when the doctors at the UCTH and the General Hospital Calabar, failed to attend to him on different occasions.
“The attention of the family of the late Hon. Dr. Godwin Akwaji who until his death was the member representing Obudu State Constituency in the Cross River State House of Assembly, has been drawn to the misdirecting rumor published by no fewer than four online platforms, that the late lawmaker died of suspected symptoms of Covid-19.
“To put the records straight, the late Hon. Dr. Godwin Akwaji did not at any time showed symptoms suspected or assumed to be related to Covid-19.
“The late lawmaker had waded into the crisis that rocked the disbursement of compensation for land , for the construction of a Cargo Airport, that led to the burning of three traditional rulers houses, including the Clan Head of Igwo community in Obudu local government area of cross river state. He stepped into the matter on the 7th of March, 2020 and spent two months meeting with the affected communities, Igwo, Okambi, Ikwomikwu, Atiekpe at intervals.
“The lawmaker has not traveled out of the state within this year, but rather spent greater part of his time with his constituents. It beats our imagination when he never had any contact with any person suspected to have been infected with the disease, or traveled out, yet been rumored to have died of the dreaded pandemic.
“Hon. Dr. Akwaji attended his Uncle funeral that held on the 5th and 6th of June, 2020 at his family compound at Eshankpe, Ukpada – Utugwang, Obudu local government area, while there he felt some unusual and severe pains which made him left immediately for his hotel room, this took place on Saturday 6th June, 2020.
“The late lawmaker attended the Obudu stakeholders meeting on Monday 8th June, 2020 at Hon. Kenn Alklah’s residence at Bebuagbong to finalize plans for the inauguration of the 6th Obudu legislative council, where he complained of ill health.
“He started feeling unwell on the the 9th of June, so he traveled back to Calabar same day Tuesday, 9th June, 2020 and consulted his physician. He battled with the situation until Wednesday 17th June, 2020, when the situation had become very critical, he then instructed that he should be taken to the hospital.
“At the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, the industrial action by the Association of Resident Doctors ARD, had forced UTCH into being a mirror image of itself. There was practically no doctor to attend to him. A development that led to his being moved to the General Hospital, Calabar.
“While at the General Hospital, the only doctor that was on ground claimed that he was already closing and that they should wait for the doctor on the next shift who will take over from him to attend to the lawmaker.
“At this point, the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Eteng Jonah Williams, was contacted and he then put a call across to the Commissioner for Health and Chairman, COVID-19 Task Force Team, Dr. Betta Edu, who then insisted that the only place that has doctors that can attend to the lawmaker at that moment was the isolation center. She directed the doctors at the isolation center at the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital to attend to the lawmaker, irrespective of the situation.
“That was how the late lawmaker was taken to the isolation center, which led to the insinuations that he died of Covid-19. He was not taken there because of symptoms suspected to be Covid-19, but because of the industrial action of ARD.
“At his death, the family had waited patiently for the covid-19 test result to be release to enable this release.
“We are glad to inform his constituents, Cross Riverians, Nigerians and the world that the late Hon. Dr. Godwin Akwaji never died of Covid-19, as widely speculated – as his sample test returned negative including that of members of his immediate family and those who were with him at the time of his death.
“We got the information of the test result from the pressure we mounted on the Commissioner of Health, Dr. Betta Edu, who never thought it wise to issue a statement regarding the test result of the late lawmaker.
“Hon. Dr. Godwin Akwaji until his death was a functionary of the Cross River State Government, who gave his all to serve the state. He had served as the Special Adviser on Revenue and Account Matters to Governor Ben Ayade, between 2015 to 2019, and one wonders why, the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Betta Edu had chosen to treat with levity an issue of this magnitude that portrays the death of the late lawmaker in an unpleasant manner.
“We are also aware that there have been issues of suspected symptoms of Covid-19, when they were taken to the isolation center, their sample collected and sent for testing. Also the woman who died last month at the isolation center, her sample was equally collected and screened with government issuing releases to this effect. The manner at which she has handled the lawmaker’s death associated with Covid-19 leaves much to be desired of her and the government.
“We are consoled that in any situation, God allowed the lawmaker to return to him the creator, but whoever intends to play politics with his death does that at his or her perils, having being convinced that we all going to give account of out stewardship to our creator, when that time comes.
“At this moment of the demise of our pathfinder and breadwinner, we are indeed pained and saddened that his unfortunate death is taking a negative twit as any death within this period can be attributed to the dreaded pandemic, Covid-19.
“The family has no intention whatsoever to join issues with anybody, online platforms or organisations over the cause of the late Hon. Dr. Godwin Akwaji’s death.
“We are however very resolute and decisive to issue this release to dispel the rumors that have been spread as well as create the enabling environment for friends, well wishers and spirited sympathisers to feel free and identify with the family at this moment of grief.
“It is also our intention that all online platforms that published the misleading information, publish this rejoinder to put the record straight.
“Even as we mourn his death, we are confident that the sacrifices he had made for humanity while alive will pave waves for him to be with his creator, till we meet to part no more”, the rejoinder read.