According to a report by SaharaReporters, Onyema Olujie from Abia State in the South Eastern region of Nigeria has died.
The man on October 14, 2022 after the Mexican Immigration Authorities humiliated, manhandled and denied him and his wife, Uloma, entry to access stage four colon cancer medical treatment at Oasis of Hope Hospital in Tijuana, Mexico.
The 74-year-old Onyema became critically ill about two years ago, and as his health deteriorated, he was taken to a private hospital in Enugu state for treatment but after several attempts by specialist doctors to treat him, it was confirmed that he was suffering from stage 4 of colon cancer.
He needed urgent treatment outside Nigeria and his family made a medical trip arrangement with the Oasis of Hope Hospital, Tijuana in Mexico City.
Onyema received a treatment plan and a letter prepared by the Medical Director of Oasis Hope Hospital, Surgeon Oncologist, Dr. Francisco Contreras, to be placed on admission for colon cancer treatment for a period of 20 days with his wife, Uloma as his caregiver, but Mexican authorities denied him that opportunity to live without explanation.
Narrating their ordeal to SaharaReporters, his younger brother, Cidi Olujie said they spent millions of naira in Enugu before the specialist doctors whom he rather described as medical carbals admitted that the treatment was not working.
"He had a set of treatment and at the end of the treatment, they said he needed surgery, that he had colon recession and the doctor said they had removed most of the cancers but there were slight secondaries and he needed more treatment and he started with another Chemotherapy every three weeks.
"This treatment was not cheap because every three weeks he was paying from N400,000 to N500,000 until he completed the eight sessions and we wanted to find out from the doctors if the cancer was still there after he completed the eight sessions post-surgery.
"The doctor said that the treatment did not work, and this is when the so-called professor decided that we were going to send out his test sample to South Africa to find out the real problem. And of course, my brother and the family were despondent about it," Cidi told SaharaReporters.
Cidi said his sister got in touch with someone who had received treatment at the Oasis of Hope Hospital, Tijuana in Mexico, and the family established contact with the hospital. The hospital after going through Onyema’s test analysis approved his treatment and the Medical Director, Contreras prepared a treatment plan in which it was stated that Onyema would be admitted for 20 days. The hospital also sent a letter which could be tendered at the Mexican Immigration to confirm the authenticity of Onyema’s trip.
“Miraculously, members of the family and friends were able to raise some funds and we sent the money, $29,950 to Mexico for initial treatment,” he said.
He said they started the process of getting a visa and after some back and forth, they completed the visa application and secured Mexican visas for him and his wife who was to be his caregiver.
“Onyema and his partner and care giver Uloma Margaret Kanu have valid Nigerian Passports Nos: AA11736745 and BOO91847 respectively, issued at Umuahia, Abia State, Nigeria.
“They had valid Mexican multiple entry visas (Nos:000 03959437 and 00003959457 for Olujie and Kanu respectively), after presenting proof of full payment of the sum of USD29,950.00 (Twenty Nine Thousand and Nine Hundred and Fifty Dollars) to the Oasis of Hope Hospital in advance, being the cost of First Cycle of Enhanced Therapy.
“With all the travel documents, we booked the flight enroute Istanbul for them and they departed Lagos at 20.45p.m West African time on October 3, 2022 for Istanbul with Turkish Airline Flight No.TK 626 and subsequently departed Istanbul on October 5, 2022 at 02.00 with Flight No TK 184 for Mexico City, arriving at the Juarez International Airport, Terminal 1 at 08.20 local time.
“We paid for another flight of about $900 to take them from Juarez International Airport in Mexico City to Tijuana.
According to Cidi, Onyema was supposed to arrive at the hospital in Tijuana on October 5th. Therefore, on the 5th, he called the hospital and they said that they had a vehicle stationed at the airport to take him (Onyema and his wife) to the hospital but after four hours they said they hadn't seen him.
“It was in the early hours of October 7th that I received a call that they arrived at Mexico City on the 5th but upon their arrival at the Mexico City airport, they were harassed and subjected to all manner of indignities. They were virtually treated like criminals. Their Passports and their mobile phones were confiscated thereby denying them the opportunity to contact the Oasis of Hope hospital at Tijuana.
“Immediately they submitted their passports, the immigration officers separated him from his wife and took them to different rooms where they kept them for more than three hours which they supposed to have joined their connection flight.
“Meanwhile, there was no explanation given to them on why they were detained. After some hours, one of the immigration officers asked them what they were in Mexico for and they told him they were going for treatment.”
He said the Mexican Immigration officers took their phones and passports from them without explanation and one of the immigration officers who had claimed that he neither understood nor spoke the English Language approached them and said, "we don't want you here. Go back to your country.”
Cidi said “They were harassed and subjected to all manner of indignities. They were virtually treated like criminals. Their Passports and their mobile phones were confiscated thereby denying them the opportunity to contact the Oasis of Hope hospital at Tijuana,
“My brother and his wife told them that they have all the documents including a letter from the hospital. They appealed to the immigration officers to call the hospital but they refused. They did not also allow them to call the Nigerian Embassy in Mexico.
“It was after several hours that they gave them a sandwich and water, and at that point, my brother's health had deteriorated and the pain was getting worse.
“It was on that 7th that they appointed an officer and bundled them into the available flight back to Istanbul and they did not give them their phones and passports until they arrived at Istanbul.” Cidi said It was at Istanbul that the Mexican Immigration officers gave them their phones and passports and they took the next available flight back to Nigeria and arrived in Nigeria around 9p.m.
“I called the hospital the following day and they apologized seriously. They said it was unprecedented because such an incident had never happened before.
“Up till today, there is no explanation whatsoever to why they were humiliated and trashed in such a manner. Even a suspected criminal has the right to know the crime he committed but in this case, there was and there yet no explanation.
“The only reason they were humiliated and deported back to Nigeria without contacting the hospital and the Nigerian Embassy in Mexico is that they don't want them in their country.
“After their return, his health deteriorated and we got him admitted in Holy Cross Hospital, Festac in Lagos on October 12th and on 14th evening, I received a call that he was dead,” Cidi said.
He told SaharaReporters that the family is demanding a comprehensive explanation on why a colon cancer patient whose treatment trip was approved with complete documents including a letter and treatment plan by a known Mexican hospital was humiliated and deported in such a manner without contacting the hospital and the Nigerian Embassy in Mexico.
“The family is demanding justice for our late brother. The pain is too much for us. He does not deserve such barbaric and inhumane treatment. Nobody deserves such uncultured treatment. Mexican authorities’ barbaric racism has caused us our brother’s life even when he had the opportunity to still live.
“The Mexican Immigration Authorities did not give Onyema Olujie any chance to go through the Enhanced Therapy at the Oasis of Hope Hospital. The untold hardship and degradation meted to my brother Onyema Olujie and his partner Uloma Margaret Kanu is incomprehensible.
“Onyema’s death has brought unquantifiable emotional and financial distress to the family. I am inclined to believe that the harsh treatment meted out to Onyema Olujie and his partner contributed directly or indirectly to accelerating his demise,” he lamented.
Late Onyema was an honourable man who served his country in various capacities from state to national level without blemish. He served as the Honourable Commissioner for Special Duties to the former Abia State Governor, Orji Uzor Kalu, from 1999 to 2000. He also served as the Commissioner 1/Secretary, Abia State Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).