BY:VITALIS UGOH, Calabar
The remains of late Prince Otu Otu Duke, a staunch member of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and former Special Adviser to the Cross River State governor on Waste Management was laid to rest amidst several sympathisers, loved ones and political class across the state.
Several personalities such as the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Sen Godswill Akpabio and former governor of Cross River state, Sen Liyel Imoke in the country joined governor Ben Ayade in expressing sadness over his sudden death.
In a condolence message to Rt Hon Orok Duke, on behalf of the family, said late Prince Duke was a “resourceful politician who believed in the unity of Nigeria,” and that “his forthrightness, candour and nationalistic approach to politics will be greatly missed”.
Governor Ayade said Late Duke, whose funeral took place on Friday, May 22, 2020, “was a man who performed his job creditably,” and asked the family “to be consoled in the fact that having lived a worthy life, he (late Duke) has only transited to higher glory”
Former governor Liyel Imoke in his condolence message described Duke’s departure as “a sad loss not only to Cross River state and also the Peoples Democratic Party where he served as the pioneer vice chairman and in other various capacities during his sojourn on earth,”.
Imoke urged the family of the deceased “to be consoled by the good life he lived”
In his own tribute, the Speaker of Cross River State House of Assembly, Rt Hon Eteng Jones Williams, expressed sadness, said the departed Duke was “an experienced and result-oriented politician who lived an exemplary life and made his mark indelible as a compassionate and invaluable statesman”.
Earlier in his tribute, the immediate younger brother to late Prince Duke and former Chairman of the Cross River State Sports Commission, Rt Hon Orok Duke, said his brother’s departure has left a big vacuum in the family, too difficult to fill particular as he left behind two little children.
He called on authorities concerned to investigate the causes that led to the sudden death of his brotherr and accused one Dr Offiong Okoho, the medical doctor who performed the surgery on late Duke, of being responsible for the death.
The former Deputy Speaker of the Cross River State House of Assembly, said “I commend the Nigerian Medical Association, Cross River State Branch, for declaring Dr Okoho’s Covenant Clinic an illegal medical facility, and also commended the state government for sealing off the Covenant Clinic building.
It would be recalled that late Prince Otu Otu Duke died on April 3, 2020 at the age of 60 after undergoing surgery for “hernia” at Covenant Clinic and Maternity, located at 22 Ekpo Eyo Street in Calabar South local government area.
The family had petitioned the Nigerian Police over what they said was unprofessional handling of Prince Duke’s health issue by the Medical Director of the clinic, Dr Offiong Okoho, a situation which has led to the sealing off of the medical facilities and Okoho’s suspension.
However, Dr Okoho has denied any wrong doing in respect to Prince Otu Duke’s death, saying that the deceased was brought in for surgery at his clinic on March 25, 2020 and that the procedure was successfully carried out, but that seven days after the surgery, the deceased patient developed partial stroke.
Okoho said he then referred the deceased to a specialist for appropriate treatment but that the patient refused to go for the referral. He said it was after the situation got bad that the deceased patient was placed on oxygen and later moved to Asi Ukpo Medical Centre, where he died.
On the possible cause of death, he said “the patient could have died as a result of Aspiration Pneumonitis, because the nurse at Asi Ukpo said he vomited before he died,” adding “some food particles may have entered his lungs when he vomited”
“The delay by the late Duke and his family members to take him to a specialist when I gave the advice was another factor that might have led to his death.”
Dr Beta Edu, the State Commissioner for Health, when contacted, said investigation into the matter was ongoing, and added, “we must investigate so that we don’t just punish somebody wrongly. We have reached out to those victims or people who have received service from the facility. Those testimonies would form the background of what we would do.”