Episode 2: Colleagues or ‘Killeagues’?

‘Hello,’ Dr Uwem Imoh spoke into his mobile phone, staring ahead and trying to focus on the road. He knew the call was an emergency; otherwise, it was not his rule to take calls while driving.

‘You are urgently needed at the hospital, sir,’ a familiar female voice said. One could perceive the ‘alarm’ in Edidiong’s cadence despite all her effort to sound calm and reticent. She hesitated when Dr Uwem Imoh refused to say a word. Then she dropped the Alpha One phrase: ‘It’s an emergency, sir. Code Red!’

The hospital had a formalised code of communication for every situation. For emergencies, Code Red meant that it was a matter of life and death, and that the doctor on call should drop everything they were doing and rush to the hospital.

Dr Uwem Imoh accelerated the car. He had wanted to get to his personal clinic at Osongama Estate earlier that day before going to the State’s Teaching Hospital, where he had been penciled down for afternoon duties. Now he had to change his plans.

Some moments ago, he had driven past Udo Udoma traffic light by Oron Road after spending close to fifteen minutes trying to get past the dreaded spot. He was approaching Four-Lane traffic light when the call came in. Without the emergency call, he would have turned right and headed for his private clinic at Osongama Estate. But with the call, Dr Imoh alerted the traffic to the left and drove close to the central reservation, preparatory to when the traffic would pass him into Two-Lane.

The road now lay clear before him. He would drive through Two-Lane, Nsikak Eduok Avenue, with some of its major landmarks being The Insight Bible Church, Methodist Church Nigeria, Full Life International Schools and Cherries Foods. Then he would cross the roundabout at Aka Road into Ibrahim Babangida (IBB) Avenue, whose major landmarks were the Nigerian Christian Institute (NCI), Ibom Hall, Ibom E-Library and the State Secretariat, where most of the civil servants went to work. Once at the round-about, Dr Imoh would turn left to reconnect Abak Road and then would head straight to the Adversity University Teaching Hospital, Abak, where he worked as a gynecologist and surgeon.

Dr Imoh looked at his wristwatch. It was 17 minutes past 7 in the morning of April, 2025. He felt vigour, vitality and health in his soul. He was a deeply satisfied man at the age of 45. Married, got two lovely daughters and living in his own house at Shelter Afrique, Dr Imoh could not ask more from his Creator at his age. He exhaled with ultimate contentedness. Professionally, Dr Imoh was on top of his game. He was the most sought-after gynecologist and surgeon in Akwa Ibom State and its environs. In fact, he was dubbed ‘The Akwa Ibom Gifted Hands’ after the famous US surgeon, Ben Carson.

Dr Imoh had performed some of the most complicated surgeries in and around Nigeria which had earned him numerous awards at home and abroad. His ability to intervene in almost hopeless pregnancy-delivery cases was astounding. His dedication to duties was unparalleled, his promotion rapid. Soon he was the envy of friends and colleagues and this soon turned to deadly jealousy; then it transformed into hate and this hate nearly claimed Dr Imoh’s life.

Dr Imoh put a call through to his private clinic to instruct his foremost doctor to take charge until he could make it back late in the afternoon. Shift-switching. A call came in from Margaret, Dr Imoh’s wife. It was his wife’s turn to drive the children to school that day. She had done so and was heading to her pharmaceutical shop at 191 Ikot Ekpene Road, Uyo. They wished each other a lovely day. No man was happier than Dr Uwem Imoh at that moment. He interrupted the national news on AKBC-radio and played Celine Dion’s ‘A New Day Has Come’, singing along with the angelic voice on the stereo: ‘Where it was dark, now there’s light/Where there was pain, now there’s joy/Where there was weakness, I found my strength. . .’

The verse in the song summed up Dr Uwem Imoh’s story: born into the ignominy of poverty, he struggled through elementary and secondary schools. His father passed away while he was in secondary school. But through hard work and perseverance, he became one of the most successful medical doctors in his time and clime. His rare intelligence and excellence in medical school had fetched him scholarships upon scholarships which did not only help to see him through school, but also catered for his mother and younger siblings back home in Atabong, Okobo Local Government Area, Akwa Ibom State.

Now he was battling with some of the hazards faced by successful men in life and at work: envy and jealousy. Evil eye. And he thought he could handle it just by overlooking it and concentrating on his duties, viewing their effects as distractions, if he allowed them to get to him. Maybe he underrated the extent that jealous souls could go to in executing their plots. Maybe he thought that ignoring it would make it go away, make his adversaries give up in the long run; even love him for his many human-friendly attributes.

Maybe this was Dr Uwem Imoh’s flaw. Maybe he did not understand how the success of a person could eat up the comfort in the soul of the jealous. Maybe he did not fathom how the success of a person could deepen the pangs of failure in the soul of the envious. He could even have been naïve in his view of human nature. And he was going to pay for it dearly.

Dr Uwem Imoh’s Lexus RX 350 cruised past the Federal Secretariat at Abak Road at exactly 7.45 a.m. Edidiong’s call came in again. Dr Imoh assured her that he was close by and would soon be at the hospital to save lives as usual. Just as the call ended, Dr Imoh received a GMAIL notification. It was the most pleasant news of the year. He had been nominated for one of Nigeria’s national honours: Member of the Order of the Federal Republic (MFR). The award ceremony would be taking place in Abuja later in the year. His candidacy for the state NMA Chairmanship was receiving a healthy boost, though there were other contestants, which included the jealous and the envious souls at the AUTH. It had recently been rumoured that his name had been penciled down by the new PDP administration in the state for an appointment into the exco as Health Commissioner. If that came to pass, it would spell a new dimension for his life and career.

It was now 7.58 a.m. As Dr Uwem Imoh drove through the magnificent gate of the AUTH, the lyrics of an indigenous song playing on Tang Sio FM hit him poetically. He had switched to the station a few moments ago. The song was by Uwem Edi Imo and titled ‘Kpeme Idem Ye Owo’. The lyrics went:

Kpeme idem ye owo

Ederimbot ami ifonke

Kpeme idem ye owo

Koro adia owo anam owo

Kpeme idem ye owo

Ederimbot ayoho ye ibak

Mme owo ema fi k’iso

Owongore edem mmo eting se ema de. . .

The song reminded him of a poem he read long ago:

Like a sheep,

He plays with

Friends with hidden knives

Preparing to cut him

Shortly after dark. . .

However, the song and the poem did not stop Dr Imoh from greeting and waving pleasantries at the gatemen and guards as he drove carefully towards the emergency ward of the hospital. The poem and the song did not make him rethink his naivety in believing that he could be called for an emergency so early in the morning when he was not on duty. Even the presence of policemen in the emergency ward did not prompt him to reflect deeply on the wording of the song until one of the policemen stepped forward and blocked his advance into the ward.

‘Are you Dr Uwem Imoh?’ he asked sternly.

‘Yes, I am,’ the kind doctor replied calmly. ‘Is there any problem?’ he asked.

‘You are under arrest for negligence of duty, manslaughter, sexual assault of a patient and stealing of hospital property. You have the right to remain silent, as anything you say may be used against you in the court of law. You have a right to a lawyer. . .’

Dr Uwem Imoh stared in disbelief as the Miranda rights recited by the policeman floated meaninglessly around his head. He looked around to be sure that this was reality, and not a dream. It was a frozen scene of confusion all around him; the usual organised confusion that greeted every emergency case at the majestic hospital. Only that today was Dr Uwem Imoh’s emergency; and he was not coming to save lives. He had come for his to be taken by envious and jealous colleagues or killeagues, as they may rightly be called.

In a flash, everything began to make sense as he sighted each participant in his just-resumed ordeal. The Hospital’s Chief Medical Director, Professor Utere, was there. He was the one who pointed the police chief to Dr Imoh’s car when he drove into the ward. Dr Imoh remembered the several administrative clashes he had had with the CMD and how he had one day said, ‘No one can question my authority in this hospital and go scot-free!’

Edidiong, who had called Dr Imoh for the emergency, had long disappeared once the famous doctor crossed the threshold of the Emergency Ward. Dr Imoh knew that she had been snitching on him to the CMD. Dr Emilia Iquot, the Head of the Emergency Ward, appeared shocked and sad about Dr Imoh’s arrest, but Dr Imoh could not help but notice the glint of happiness underneath her eyes. She once made a snide remark about doctors who sprouted from nowhere as they had no family members to point to who were doctors. Dr Iquot had also been misrepresenting Dr Uwem Imoh’s words and actions to the CMD. Dr Imoh also sighted Dr Nkirikid, his rival in the state NMA Chairmanship election. Dr Nkirikid was almost grinning but he managed to put up a mournful face. Other members of staff stared in utter shock as the heroic doctor was being handcuffed and manhandled by the security agents.

All these known friends, colleagues and bosses approached Dr Imoh to show and speak their sympathies. They promised him that they were sure it must be a temporary misunderstanding and that they knew that he would be vindicated soon and be restored to his position and titles. But that meanwhile, he had to be suspended from the hospital pending when he would be cleared of all the charges against him by a competent court of law.

As Dr Uwem Imoh was being led away, he thought he heard someone behind him say: ‘Good riddance to nonsense!’ Another said, ‘Rot in hell, thief doctor’. Yet another said, ‘We have caught him!’. Another voice yelled: ‘A pompous fool! Pride goes before a fall!’ Another said, just as the suspect was being roughly pushed into the waiting police van, ‘We did him in it at last. Cheers!’ At that point, it suddenly dawned on Dr Uwem Imoh that he had made the greatest mistake of his life: dismissing his instincts and trusting those he should have just greeted with a ‘Hi’ and a ‘Hello’.

Prayer Point: Father please! Take traitors far away from me in Jesus’ name. Amen!

Is Dr Imoh guilty or was he framed? Will he be convicted or acquitted and vindicated? Watch out for Episode 3 loading on my website: eyohetim.com

Disclaimer: This story is fiction. All persons, events and places should be thus regarded.

© Eyoh Etim 2023

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