12-year-old Uchechukwu Ewurum, a junior secondary school student of Government Secondary School, Oroworukwo, Rivers State, is clearly in a lot of pain.
Facing a long period of hospitalization in Rehoboth Hospital, D/Line, Port Harcourt, one can’t help but shed tears. In fact, the wound from which his right hand was amputated is enough to melt even the heart of stone.
This handsome young man is a bad testimony of neglect and carelessness. He’s a victim of electrocution caused by a high-tension wire, which got cut from the pole and left as a merchant of death by officials of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN). The wire with high electric current had rested on the handrail of a building for hours on Ojoto Street, Mile 2, Diobu, Port Harcourt, until it nearly killed Uchechukwu.
It was gathered that Uchechukwu had left their No 8 Ojoto Street home that fateful day for a neighbouring building, where his mother had gone to condole with one of her husband’s cousins, who was bereaved. Not knowing that death was lurking round the corner, he had rested on a handrail in the corridor of the second floor of the building and got electrocuted. It was the intervention of God and residents of the building that saved his life. However, while he’s alive, he has lost one hand. He also has a sore tummy and suffers memory loss.
Recounting the near-death experience, Uchechukwu’s father, Mr. Peter Ewurum, said: “As my wife got there, she met my cousin’s wife downstairs and they started discussing. Uchechukwu, who heard that his mother was there, ran to the place to join her. On getting there, he went to my cousin’s room upstairs. Unknown to him, there was a death trap, a dangling high-tension wire that was touching the handrail. According to experts, the current in the wire was more than 11,000 KVA.
“As soon as my son held it (handrail), to beckon on his mother to come upstairs, he was electrocuted.”
Ewurum said Uchechukwu was thrown down by the power of the electric current. His right hand was damaged instantly. Also, his tummy was severely burnt.
The lad was rushed to the hospital unconscious, where doctors battled to save his life. After fruitless efforts at restoring the badly damaged hand, doctors amputated it on March 4, 2013, following the discovery of decay.
The sad dad said that officials of the PHCN had, out of neglect, exposed residents of the area to danger. He revealed that when the company was notified of the cut high-tension wire, its officials had engaged themselves in heated argument on who should climb the electric pole to disconnect and replace the damaged accessories. “As a result, the repair work was not carried out,” he stated.
It was the high-tension wire that nearly killed Uchechukwu.
On the fate of his son, Ewurum said: “My son is maimed for life, incapacitated throughout his life. If life is difficult for people with two hands, what about someone who has only one hand? His education is now stalled and under threat.”
The man is, however, worried that he would not be able to pay the medical bills, as the emergency came suddenly. He revealed how he had been having sleepless nights since the accident, not because of his son’s amputated hand, but because of how to raise money to settle the medical bill.
When the hospital told him to make an initial deposit of N50, 000, he had only N6, 000 on him. To save his son’s life, he had to borrow not less than N90, 000 so far.
“I want justice. PHCN is liable for my son’s plight. The company should be held responsible. My wife is now devastated, because of the present condition of her son, who was full of life before he came out to welcome her. Please, tell the government, human rights organizations and concerned Nigerians to come to my aide. They should compel PHCN to pay compensation for the damage they have caused my son,” he stated.