Spinal Cord Injury: Former Keeper Cries to Ministry

Nov 12, 2001 (Daily Trust/All Africa Global Media via COMTEX) -- A former Federal Min-istry of Internal Affairs goalkeeper, Justin Akutakwe who sustained a spinal cord injury while in active service for the club has appealed for financial assistance from the Ministry.

Justin, who sustained the injury while playing for the Internal Affairs FC at the Old Parade Ground, Abuja on August 1, 1998 now depends entirely on others to survive.

The former Flying Eagles and U-23 player has cried out to the authorities of the Ministry to allow sympathy to prevail in handling his pathetic problem.

Justin who is now confined to the wheelchair, lamented that since the ministry suddenly stopped paying him his salary in December 1999, life has become horrible for him.

The abject want compelled the former national star to depend absolutely on charity to earn a living even as he continues to plead with internal affairs to render succour.

"My family spent N1.5m on medical bills at the Orthopaedic Hospital Enugu, where I was referred to, after spending one week at the General Hospital,Garki in fact the remaining bill was forwarded to the Internal Affairs but uptill now, they are yet to acknowledge it. Ironically it was the same ministry which requested for the bill.

In fact, the time I went to see Permanent Secretary, the man asked me to show evidence that I am in the employ of the ministry. One wonders what other evidence is needed when it was obvious the same ministry pay my salary and allowances uptill December, '99, he said even as streams of tears dribbled uncontrollably down his puffy cheeks.

The former Flying Eagles safe hand, who was to man the post for Nigeria at the botched Nigeria '95 said even the letter written by Senator Mike Ajebo for the Ministry to assume its responsibility seems to have fallen on deaf ears.

Despite his pathetic condition, Justin was hopeful that God in his infinite mercies could extend a healing hand on him through medical diagnosis.

"My family consulted specialists in John Bolton in Baltimore who expressed confidence the spinal cord injury could be corrected only that we don't have the means for the treatment," he said.

by Patrick Andrew