Angry Refugees Protest the Untimely Death of Legendary Goal Keeper

By Ernest G. Smith Jr. & Mantue S. Reeves

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

June 9, 2004

The international refugee community at Oru refugee camp in Oru-Ijebu, Ogun State, Nigeria on the fateful morning of Thursday, June 3, 2004 awoke amidst loud noise and chants from angry Liberian refugees. The protest was the result of the untimely death of former Liberian legendary goalkeeper Boye “Dino Zoff” Cooper, who according to eye-witnesses died because the camp commandant refusal to rush him to Ogun State University Teaching Hospital at Sagamu, Ogun State. According to reliable sources, similar acts have been committed several times in the past by the camp commandant, which resulted in the death of three other refugees.

Reliable sources revealed that the fallen hero who had suffered a brief illness was taken to the camp clinic during the late hour of Wednesday, June 2, 2004 for medical treatment. Upon his arrival at the clinic, he was examined by an intern nurse commonly referred to by residents at the camp as David. David indicated that he wasn’t equipped technically to handle the situation; therefore advised that Boye Cooper be taken to Ogun State University Teaching Hospital at Sagamu, where medical cases beyond the prowess of clinic at the camp are handled.

Attempting to ensure that “Dino” receive adequate treatment and care, well wishers and relatives swiftly went to the home (about 100 meters - 150 seconds walk from the clinic) of the camp commandant in an effort to make him aware of what was happening so as to make available the ambulance stationed at the camp (which parks in his yard) to rush (transport) Boye Cooper to Sagamu for advanced medical attention. We gathered later that Mr. Lawrence O. Yewga got in the ambulance, started it and got out to announce that the ambulance did not have petrol. Similar result was made when he “attempted” to start his official car (lack of petrol) - a four-wheel drive jeep we were told was donated by the UNHCR.

Having failed to transport the late soccer idol for immediate medical treatment, fans and love ones who had converged around Mr. Yewga’s home, heavy-heartedly proceeded to the clinic where the former national arch goal tender was left at the mercy of an unqualified nurse. While “Dino” was still helplessly lying in clinic, his well wishers asked the Red Cross Representative, Mr. Solomon Ekah to give them the transfer letter, which is the required practice for it to be presented at Shagamu for medical treatment to be administered Boye Cooper. We were told that he refused despite the fact that an ordinary Liberian had volunteered to use his personal car to transport Boye Cooper to the hospital to receive emergency medical care.

According to eye witnesses the internship nurse who appeared nervous went on to treat Boye Cooper by administering some dozes of injection - including one in his chest. The injection was administered despite the many pleas by the Boye Cooper who indicated that the nurse wasn’t qualified enough to inject him. Report amongst eyewitnesses revealed that the Boye Cooper was overpowered on the order of the nurse as he injected the Liberian Soccer hero. Few minutes after the injection, Boye “Dino Zoff” Cooper in agony died precisely at 1:36 AM, while his grief-engulfed comrades and sympathizers stare with their tears.

After receiving the fact that both cars did indeed contain enough petrol to drive “Dino” to Sagamu for emergency medical treatment, the Liberians at the camp, gathered around 7:00 AM (on the morning of June 3, 2004) furiously went on the rampage, ransacked and looted the almost emptied warehouse. Sensing the danger, the executives of the Liberian Refugees Welfare Council intervened, recovered most of the looted items and contacted higher authorities of the police, the Local government, the UNHCR, the Nigerian Red cross Society, the Federal Commission for Refugees who visited the camp and restored order for a brief period. However, the brief order was disrupted by the police when they fired rounds of tear gas in an attempt to disburse a small group of women who were waving tree branches and chanting revolutionary songs.

As the night of June 3, 2004 fell, the looting and ransacking did not end. During the late hours, some refugees burst into the residence of the camp commandant and made away with relief stoves, pots, blankets, beverages, etc., which were stock piled. This time the police were alerted and arrests were made on the scene, which included some innocent bystanders.

Realizing the dark pictures that such occurrence might paint to the world, the Chairman of the Liberian Refugees Welfare Council, Mr. Fred C. Lamadine led a team of concerned refugee youths who rounded up some of the suspects. At least ten refugees are presently being detained at the Ijebu-Igbo Central Prison at Ijebu-Igbo, Ogun State Their present condition is unknown since the prison authorities prevented the detainees’ family member and friends from seeing them.

This event has resulted into the camp’s entire managerial staff evacuation. According to reliable sources, the entire staff have been either transferred or sacked. Everyone here is now his/her own. Essential services like the clinic, counseling, the discussion of official matter with the camp management, receiving of letters from commandant’s office for receiving money from Western Union, etc., have all being shut down.

For example, an elderly woman called Ma Mary, who is the mother of one of the innocent bystanders detained said, her sixteen-year-old daughter came out to urinate when the police rounded them up and she was arrested. Her daughter has been detained for the past four days. She is calling on the UNHCR, Amnesty International and other human rights organizations to come to the aid of those innocent refugees who are detained.

Based on reliable information gathered from executives of the camp, the detainees will be tried after which they will be persecuted.