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Christian Entity Mourns Vocal Nigerian Advocate Who Died in Suspected Hospital Negligence

Late Dr Obadiah Mailafia. Credit: CSW

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), a UK-based human rights foundation, is mourning Dr Obadiah Mailafia, an outspoken and reputable Christian advocate in Nigeria who was reportedly treated shabbily in various hospitals in the West African country before he died on September 19.

The organization reported on Monday, September 20 that doctors at a Nigerian hospital in which Dr. Mailafia passed on refused to perform chest compressions that might have saved his life.

In the report, CSW Founder, President Mervyn Thomas, says the Christian foundation was shocked to learn of the mistreatment of the resident of Nigeria’s Southern Kaduna who the CSW official described as “a courageous patriot.”

“CSW is deeply saddened by the death of Dr. Mailafia, and our prayers are with his family, friends and the people of southern Kaduna as they mourn the passing of a courageous patriot,” Mr. Mervyn says.

Mr. Mervyn adds, in reference to the former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, “He could so easily have prioritized his own comfort and safety, but chose instead to continue speaking truth to power on behalf of those whose voices have been stifled, and regardless of the personal cost.”

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“We are appalled, however, by reports of the shockingly negligent treatment Dr. Mailafia received during his final hours and echo the calls for an independent autopsy and an urgent in-depth investigation into the circumstances surrounding his death,” the CSW President says.

The UK-based human rights foundation reports that Dr. Mailafia was among the first prominent Nigerians to raise the alarm about the current violence in Southern Kaduna, the infiltration of extremists of Fulani ethnicity across the country, including in Southern Nigeria, and their links with terrorist factions.

During a 55-minute interview (account terminated) on Lagos-based media house Nigeria Info’s program Morning Crossfire on 11 August 2020, the outspoken Nigerian advocate is said to have addressed, amongst other things, the evolution of the ongoing violence in Southern Kaduna.

“He asserted that the Nigerian authorities were both unable and unwilling to protect the people there, and concurred with a May 2018 statement from retired General TY Danjuma which claimed that elements in the security forces were colluding with the perpetrators of attacks on farming communities,” CSW leadership says in the September 20 report. 

Dr. Mailafia is said to have unceasingly denounced individuals promoting the narrative that the attacks were attributable to “farmer-herder violence” as “accessories to genocide,” stating he had been informed by repentant extremists that a current northern governor is the “commander of Boko Haram in Nigeria.”

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He is also said to have openly asserted that Boko Haram and the armed bandits were “one and the same thing; they have a sophisticated network,” and intend to ignite a civil war in Nigeria in 2022.

The Christian foundation further documents that following the interview, Dr. Mailafia was interrogated three times by the Department of State Services (DSS) in the Plateau State capital, Jos.

On 11 September 2020, the Christian advocate reportedly released a message requesting prayer, in which he said, “I have reasons to believe that my life is in danger and that some powerful political forces want to silence me forever for speaking the truth. For speaking on behalf of the Holy Martyrs - of thousands of innocent children, women, elderly, and youths that have been killed in our beloved country.” 

CSW reports that Dr. Mailafia subsequently went into hiding but continued to speak out in webinars and conferences.

According to the Middle Belt Forum, Dr. Mailafia had been unwell since arriving in Abuja on September 12.

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The leadership of CSW narrates that five days after he arrived in Abuja, his wife took him to the CBN Hospital, where a senior medic was obliged to intervene before he was given oxygen and admitted.

“He was later given the choice of three hospitals. His wife opted for EHA Clinics; however, once again a high-level directive had to be issued for him to be admitted,” the Christian entity reports, and adds that a few hours later, hospital staff informed Mrs. Mailafia that her husband would have to be transferred to the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital Gwagwalada, as the facility was not sufficiently equipped to handle his case.

“She initially refused, but consented following assurances from the consultant that all would be well,” the organization that advocates for religious freedom narrates, and adds, “However, upon arriving at Gwagwalada on 18 September, the Mailafias discovered that the doctor who was meant to have been available to attend to him was not there, and those who were on duty were hostile.”

Mrs. Mailafia was reportedly asked to pay a deposit of N600,000 (approximately £1,067), even though the case was a referral, and the doctors “flatly refused” to place Dr. Mailafia on a ventilator when he complained of breathing difficulties and requested one.

The Middle Belt Forum has also reported that doctors refused to perform chest compressions to resuscitate Dr. Mailafia, stating, “Even when the wife could feel the pulse of her husband, the doctor flatly declared that there was nothing they could do since they had already pronounced him dead.”

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Following the demise, the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU) has issued a statement demanding “a thorough Independent forensic analysis,” of Mailafia’s death.

The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has also joined the call for an investigation into Dr. Mailafia’s death, as there were “very unassailable reasons to believe that the alarm he raised which was never investigated” may have been behind his “sudden demise.”

In the September 20 report, Mr. Mervyn has hailed Mailafia’s heroism, integrity and love for his country, attributes that the CSW President says will never be forgotten. 

In his call for justice for Dr. Mailafia, the CSW official says that any medical staff found to have been responsible for the celebrated Nigerian advocate’s death should “not only be relieved of all duties, but also face legal consequences.”