“He died in my arms,” Olatunji Oluwara, the mother of Mr. Akintola Osokoya, told the press on Saturday. “I’m so devastated.”
On Nov. 24, 2016, Osokoya, 42, collapsed and died at the toll gate as he was bringing out passengers from the tunnel in Lagos, Nigeria. He never regained consciousness. He left behind a wife and six children. His death sparked outrage and grief in Nigeria and overseas, where he was a semi-pro basketball player and pilot.
The toll gate, currently under government control, has been the scene of numerous protests in recent years over what protesters describe as excessive and inhumane treatment of motorists. A handful of people have died at the toll gate, most at the hands of motorcyclists (who are viewed as “fourth columnists” in the eyes of some opposition leaders).
“What I saw was atrocious and it is unacceptable,” Osokoya’s mother told The Post. “There were no adequate medical professionals around and the Nigerian authorities ought to have ensured that Osokoya received adequate care.”
When questioned by reporters Saturday, Osokoya’s mother recalled an incident early in the morning of Nov. 24 that left her heartbroken.
“When he had his encounter with the motorcyclist, my boy must have been disoriented and unwell, because he suddenly got off his motorcycle and collapsed,” she said. “I picked him up and rushed him to the clinic, but he was dead before he was attended to.”
Unlike an American toll gate, in which the incoming vehicle holds down the tolltag, no barrier impedes cars from driving to the opposite side of the road where drivers pay tolls. Vehicles travel through a tunnel and out of the gate into the waiting lane, about a mile away.
“I have pleaded with Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, begging him to set up a trauma center, but nothing has been done,” she said.
Trauma centers are common in other countries. Israel, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and many others have developed trauma centers and hospitalization services over the years in order to enhance the care they provide to accident and emergency patients.
Many of the injuries and deaths at Lagos toll booths fall into the category of falls from vehicles as motorists use them to cross busy roads. In October, Dr. Wale Adetula, an emergency physician at St. Luke’s hospital in Lagos, tweeted his experience caring for a man who had fallen from a vehicle at the toll gate and died.
Osokoya’s mother has remained in Lagos since then and was recently joined by his eldest son, Olufunsho, at the press conference, where she was accompanied by several journalists, as well as a number of international journalists.
Read more at The Hill.