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Evil merchants

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•Medical equipment dealer, doctors in the soup for operating illegal blood bank
•Pay students N1,500 to part with pint of blood
•Victims fall ill frequently, one dies

By CHIOMA IGBOKWE

A 23-year-old man, Olusola Opeyemi and his accomplices have landed in trouble for operating what could pass for illegal and secret blood bank in Orile-Agege area of Lagos. The suspects lured innocent and unsuspecting students of Oyewole Junior High School, aged between 11 and 15, into parting with their blood for a paltry sum of N1, 500.

Operating from a shop located at No. 23 Owolabi Omotoye Street, Orile-Agege, where he sold medical equipment and other articles, Opeyemi and other suspects had convinced their victims that parting with some quantity of blood will fetch them money, while not putting them at risk. The unsuspecting students had fallen for their antics and therefore, freely gave their blood at a fee of N1, 500. Before the illegal business was exposed, no fewer than 10 students had already “donated” blood.

According to the Lagos State Police Command spokesperson, DSP Ngozi Braide, “Olusola was arrested along side his technician, Adeagbo Olatunji, whose duty was to take a pint of blood from each of these kids and pay them N1, 500. He was able to lure a few of the boys, who, in turn, spread the news.”

On how the number of students who parted with their blood increased, DSP Braide said: “Excited, the students, who promised not to let their parents know what they were into, alerted other colleagues who trooped to the shop on a daily basis.”

The police image-maker revealed that the suspects have confessed selling the blood to medical doctors “at a much higher price,” adding: “Also in police custody are some of the doctors that were alleged to have bought the blood from Olusola.”

Braide said that as investigation continues, the police are on the trail of other suspects, now at large. She advised parents to be “more observant on the activities of their children and learn to direct them aright.”

Saturday Sun gathered that the bubble burst on Opeyemi, when neighbours started suspecting the goings-on in his shop. Sources said that with the number of students coming to his shop increasing, curious neighbours started paying more attention to what they do.

According to one of the residents, who identified herself as Mama Seyi, she became suspicious when he saw one of the boys staggering out of the shop with blood dripping from his uniform.

She stated; “For some months now, young boys, between the ages of 11 and 15 trooped to his shop after school on a daily basis. I kept wondering what they were doing there, till one day when one of the boys came out of the shop with blood dripping on his shirt.

“Since he was selling medical equipment and drugs, I did not bother to confront him, but out of curiosity, last Sunday, I went through the backyard and peeped into the shop and noticed syringes and cotton wool stained with so much blood. I immediately drew the attention of one of our neigbourhood leaders, Mr. Bashiru. He alerted the police, while we monitored Opeyemi.

“As usual, on Monday, at 3pm, the boys gathered again and he took some of them into the shop and closed the door. Minutes later, Mr. Bashiru stormed the office and caught him in the act. We saw blood in sachets and he started stashing them away. We locked him inside the office and caught some of the boys hanging around there before the police came and arrested him.”

Another neighbour, who also identified herself as Mama Shade, said: “I have asked them severally, if there was any sort of club here and they always laughed it off. They usually told me that they came to visit Uncle Shola. When his secret deals were uncovered, one man came here crying that it was this man that killed his son. He showed us the picture of his son who died weeks ago due to insufficient blood. He said that no one could ascertain why his son was losing so much blood.

“The man said, they took his son to several churches for prayer and yet he kept losing weight, owing to lack of blood. They never knew that Olusola was the blood-sucking demon. This continued till he finally died. They should go round the neighbourhood and find the other children because these boys started trooping into his shop as far back as January.”

Some of the victims, who spoke with Saturday Sun, said parting with their blood was all about making quick and easy money. According to them, they were enticed by the money given to them.

Chinemerem Omire, aged 14, claimed that his best friend lured him to the shop. He said: “I noticed that Emeka, my friend, always had money to spend in school. I asked him severally, how he made that money and he said it was his parent that gave him. I knew it was a lie; so I put more pressure on him till sometime in February, when he asked me to escort him to Uncle Shola’s shop.

“I sat outside for 10 minutes and later, Uncle Shola stepped outside and asked me to join them inside the house. I did and Uncle Shola took a sample of my blood and later told me that I am A+. He then told me that, he was willing to give me N1, 500, if I donate my blood.

“Initially, I was scared till Emeka told me that he had done it severally and that it was Uncle Shola, who gave him that money that I was asking about. The next day, he asked Emeka to invite me, as there was hot demand for my blood.  I summoned courage, did it and was given N1, 500. I was advised to buy milk and malt to help replenish my blood.  It was then that I realised that most of the boys who frequently visited that area were from my school.  He told us that we should not tell anyone that he was paying us for our blood. He warned that we would also be arrested, if people knew that we donated our blood in his shop.

“Severally, my parents suspected that I was losing weight and I was smart to defend myself that I was just sick. It was an easy way of making money; that was why I decided to do it. I was not as frequent as the other boys because some of them had flesh and can withstand it. In each round, he collects blood that is more than a sachet of pure water and if you are not careful, you might faint.”

Chinemerem lamented that for the three times that he went to Uncle Shola’s shop, he was paid N4, 500 and the said amount was used to eat to replenish the blood, while the others were spent in school “to show that one is a big boy.”

Another victim, Segun, 12, said one Dotun introduced him and advised him to come, as this was the fastest way to reduce weight.  He said: “I was very fat before I joined them. I decided to go back when I discovered that I never felt dizzy. I am sorry; he told us that we were helping people who needed blood to survive. He told us that the money he was paying was to help us replenish the lost blood.”

Yet another boy, Chidi, said he has done it up to eight times. “I do not go there frequently like other boys because I am aware that I need blood to survive. I felt that I was helping the less privileged by donating my blood for a stipend. The money has helped me to buy things that my parents will not afford to buy for me like, phone,” he said.

Saturday Sun gathered that owing to the fact that they were losing blood, through the illegal donation, most children in the area started losing weight, which their parents noticed. However, not certain what could be responsible for this, the unsuspecting parents  accused each other of being responsible through spiritual means.  Others accused their spouses of neglecting their children through poor feeding.

The Omire family, who spoke with Saturday Sun, lamented that the health condition of their sons tore the family apart. According to Mr. Omire, “I accused my wife of neglect that she was not feeding my kids well despite that I was providing enough money. He was changing colour and always weak. I could not just fathom what was wrong with the boy, till this man was caught.”

Another parent lamented that she had to take her son to a spiritualist to detect who was sucking his blood. “I know that I am not rich, but I can afford to feed my children well. I became alarmed when I discovered that my son was getting thinner while others were okay. I even had to increase his diet, but when he was not responding. I took him to the church for prayers. I thank God that this was discovered because I know that some of that blood may have been sold for money rituals,” she stated.

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