An Abuja-based medical doctor, Daniel Eitokpah, who was detained after trying to revive a suicide victim, Michael Arowosaiye, has described his exoneration as providential.
Arowosaiye, who was a gospel artist with the Redeemed Christian Church of God, had reportedly hanged himself on Tuesday at Sunnyvale Estate, Lokogoma District, Abuja.
An Instagram user, Eitokpah Henri-Paul, had posted a series of videos on Wednesday, with a caption that read in part, “My brother, a medical doctor, along with two onlookers were detained for trying to help resuscitate a young man who committed suicide yesterday. The police have him held for no reason; they named them as suspects, and asked them to write statements without any reason for detaining them.”
Daniel, who graduated from Ternopil State Medical School, Ukraine in 2016 and completed his house job at the National Hospital, Abuja, is a National Youth Service Corps member.
The doctor, in an interview with our correspondent, said he lived in Sunnyvale Estate, where the incident occurred on Tuesday evening.
“I went to a friend’s place within the estate; she had made a pot of soup for me, so I wanted to pick it up. On my way out of the place, just walking to my car, two blocks away where the incident happened, I saw some men, about five guys. One of them was shouting for help. Rather than enter my car, I walked towards the small crowd to find out what was happening.
“The guy shouting for help was saying, ‘There is someone inside the house—at the back—hanging himself.’ He kept repeating it and I was trying to be careful to understand the scene and what was going on. I initially thought it was a kidnap attempt, so I tried to distance myself from the people.
“I asked him, ‘If you know there is someone hanging himself inside the house, why don’t you go and help him?’ He said he was scared as there were dogs in the house. So, I asked the neighbour standing by, ‘Can you go to the back and peep over the fence to see if this is true?’ He ran there, confirmed it and came back shouting, ‘It’s true, there’s someone there hanging himself.’”
According to Daniel, the picture he got was that the victim was in the act of hanging himself.
“That prompted us to quickly go inside; we actually scaled the fence and ran to the back of the house where we saw the guy. He was hanging on a wire but his feet were touching the ground, and I ran to him, held him off the ground to free his neck from the strain of the wire.
“The other guys came and took the wire off his neck. We placed him on the floor. I assessed him, checked for a pulse, but there was no sign of a pulse. So, I immediately started performing CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation).
“I continued doing CPR, thinking this thing just happened but there was still no response; his body was stiff. I did CPR until a bystander said, ‘Don’t worry, he’s dead. You have tried.’ So, I stopped. Honestly, it was like a dream to me. I think as I was doing CPR, someone was calling the police and the estate security,” he stated.
He explained that the chief security officer in the estate arrived before the divisional police officer, who came after about 20 minutes.
He said, “There were about 10 of us that actually entered the house to rescue that guy, but most of them left when they heard that the police were coming. So when the DPO got to the scene, it was just a few of us that were around—me, the man who saw the guy hanging himself and the neighbour, who was like the deceased’s flat mate.
“We explained to the DPO everything that happened, how we heard a guy shouting for help and went there. I explained to him that I thought it was something that had just happened and tried to resuscitate him.
“I explained everything I did to him and his response was, ‘You are a doctor. You should know that you are not meant to tamper with the evidence.’ I tried to explain to him that the information we got was that the guy was in the act; if there was an iota of life in that guy, at least, we should give him a chance.”
Daniel noted that the DPO, from the moment he appeared on the scene, kept addressing him in a demeaning manner.
He said they were taken to the police station from there; and while at the station, he overheard the DPO tell the Commissioner of Police that three suspects have been arrested in connection to the incident.
“Shortly after, the commissioner of police came in and I heard the DPO telling the CP, ‘We have arrested three suspects.’ I felt that the statement meant a lot. The DPO, the CP, my father, my pastor and church members of the deceased went back to the scene of the suicide.
“God just had it that there were CCTV cameras around the house. There was one directly facing the entrance of the boys’ quarters where the guy had hanged himself. That was our saving grace.
“It showed everything—how the suicide took place. Immediately they saw we were not guilty, they made a call to the police station to prepare for our release,” he said.
Asked if the experience would discourage him from helping victims in the future, he said, “Definitely. I have spoken to many of my colleagues after this and the advice they gave me was, ‘Daniel, this is Nigeria. When you see something happening, just keep walking.’”
When contacted, the acting Police Public Relations Officer in Abuja, Danjuma Gajere, said, “There was a CCTV in the house. When the policemen watched the CCTV, they saw that nobody (besides the victim) participated in that suicide, so they released them immediately, on the same day.
“After the police asked them to write their statements, they removed the corpse and started investigation immediately. When they saw the CCTV footage, they released them immediately. They did not even arrest them; they asked them to go. It was just an invitation.”