by Hauwa Gambo
As Nigeria tries to grapple with the implications of what Patrick Sawyer, whom President Goodluck Jonathan has referred to as a “crazy” man might have done in bringing in the country’s first confirmed case of Ebola, events around the death continue to intrigue.
We now know that his employers suspected Ebola and isolated him, we now know he was aware of his condition, and we now know that he was cleared to travel by his friend, who is a deputy minister in Liberia. Sawyer was acutely aware of his condition when he also boarded the flight to Nigeria for a conference in Calabar.
According to Liberian newspaper, The New Dawn, which monitored the CCTV footage recorded at Monrovia’s James Spriggs Payne’s Airport, Monrovia, Sawyer looked “terribly ill” before he boarded the 20 July Asky Airline plane to Lagos He reportedly wore a “sad countenance“ and was obviously in severe pain.
Apparently overtaken by “excruciating pain,” he, at a point, laid flat on his stomach on the floor in the corridor of the airport.
According to the paper, Mr. Sawyer sat alone all through the time he was boarding the flight and avoided bodily contact with other passengers who were close to him at the boarding gate in Monrovia.
Mr. Sawyer became severely ill on the plane and was taken to First Consultant Hospital, Obalende, from the Murtala Mohammed Airport in Lagos. He died there on 24 July.
For some yet unclear reason, Sawyer and his highly placed friends in the Liberian government were insistent on his visiting Calabar. First, reports indicate he did not escape from isolation as reported by some news media. According to those, the officials were more concerned about ensuring he got to his Calabar conference.
Also the hospital in which he died, First Consultant Hospital had issued a statement confirming that it had to resist huge pressure from Liberian government officials who wanted him to be discharged, and claimed he had a crucial role to play in that talkshop.