My attention was first drawn to Mayowa’s case through the University of Lagos Alumni Association, when her video soliciting for help was shared with us. I was moved to tears seeing Mayowa’s beautiful face before her sickness and what cancer has made of it. That was nothing strange because I once witnessed the impacts of cancer on the physical wellness of a friend. Hearing Mayowa speak of her troubles saw me break down completely. I wept uncontrollably and couldn’t muster enough courage to watch the entire video. I concluded that our own Mayowa needed all the help in this world to make it through and started working my phone to reach out to friends to help connect me with the family. In the process of doing that, I was told of a gofundme fundraiser set up to save our own Mayowa. I joined effort to support the fundraiser, thanks to the University of Lagos Alumni Association.
Lucky enough, I was able to reach Mayowa’s family through Mr. Bode. I briefed him of our effort and that Akoka will stand up for Mayowa, one of us. Mr. Bode was glad to hear that but said we should wait to hear from the family before making any effort. He got back to me to say that the fundraiser target was reached and that we should support Mayowa with our prayers. That meant a lot to me as it re-assured me I was dealing with a credible family, more so, in NAIJA.
I updated the University of Lagos Alumni Association, with others confirming that the fundraiser target was met. Everybody was glad. However, I argued that with cancer, you were not done until the treatment was over, and the patient declared fully recovered. Drawing on my experience with a friend who had a tough fight with cancer, I stated that the money raised may not be sufficient for Mayowa. I proposed that the fundraiser be continued, with many buying into that idea. I shared the same view with the family, but they again said NO. I could sense they may not be too pleased with going public to raise fund for Mayowa’s treatment. I gave up pressing further with the family on this issue.
A highly regarded Professor at the University of Lagos called me a night to inform me that Mayowa may no longer seek treatment in the US and that she may be headed to Dubai. I heard her out and was mandated to engage the family to have a rethink. I reached out to Mr. Bode for update on Mayowa’s health and her traveling plans. I was briefed of the challenges associated with securing expedited US visa appointment. A case was made for Dubai. I expressed my reservations and we had interesting back and forth conversation. The family had a superior argument. I requested for details of the Dubai hospital and was duly briefed. I offered to double-check the quality of the hospital by reaching out to friends who are medical doctors and with my friends who are citizens of Dubai.
As I was working in the midnight on a paper review, my phone rang. I initially hesitated to pick the call, but decided otherwise after a second thought. It turned out to be a phone call about our own Mayowa. I was happy for answering the call. My caller asked if I have heard that Mayowa’s story was a scam. I laughed it off and said I hoped someone was not trying to play games with Mayowa’s ordeal. I told the caller I was going to make calls to ascertain the facts of the matter.
I took time to reflect through what I heard. I wrote down questions that would inform the basis of my fact check, among which was that, besides Mayowa’s family, who were the main actors, which were involved in fundraiser. I was hoping there was no NGO involved in the fundraiser. I chose to do the unconventional by googling information about the new development. I discovered that the allegation of scam was associated with Linda Ikeji and Toyin Aimakhu. I took time to analyze the allegation that was broken by Linda Ikeji. It took no time for me to discern that it may be that some actors were not having their ways and may be up to a spoiler.
At first, I was startled that Linda Ikeji authoritatively claimed that Mayowa’s family scammed Nigerians. She stated, “this is such a sad thing for me to report this afternoon. Just two days after we were all happy that Nigerians kindly donated to cancer patient, Mayowa Ahmed, for surgery she needed for ovarian cancer, LIB just learnt that Mayowa and her family scammed kind hearted Nigerians”. I asked how did Linda Ikeji reach such an authoritative conclusion. I was curious to know her facts. She presented her facts as follows: “You see, Mayowa is really sick. She truly has Ovarian cancer. She's admitted at LUTH but she didn't need money for surgery, because doctors had told Mayowa she was beyond treatment and no hospital in the world could treat her as she was extremely far gone”.
I was shocked reading Linda Ikeji saying that Mayowa “didn't need money for surgery, because doctors had told Mayowa she was beyond treatment and no hospital in the world could treat her as she was extremely far gone”. One, I was like no doctor will tell Linda Ikeji any information about Mayowa except otherwise directed to do so. Two, I knew that no doctor would stop or forestall the treatment of a patient because their case is far gone as alleged by Linda Ikeji. My take was confirmed by highly regarded medical doctors that I know. Three, I was completely stunned that Linda Ikeji’s allegation of scam was also based on the claim, “Mayowa had reached stage 4 and doctors, unfortunately, already told her family she won't survive it and had advised them to take her home. Her family instead used her situation to raise money from Nigerians”. That LUTH would advise Mayowa’s family that she be taken home because her case was beyond redemption got me thinking that someone was trying to play games with Mayowa’s life and possibly her family’s integrity. Four, mentioning that Toyin Aimakhu was at LUTH with police officers got me thinking something may be acting out.
I was done with Linda Ikeji and Toyin and went about my fact checking mission. I made attempts to speak with Mayowa’s family but was told that I will be duly updated. I spoke with some reliable sources of information, with one emergent pattern being that Linda Ikeji may have been instrumental to Toyin’s possible attempt to blackmail Mayowa’s family. I came across videos posted by Mayowa’s family and also took time to digest their press release. Equipped with how to handle and decipher truth from conflicting information sources, I was hoping to have video engagements involving Mayowa’s family and other stakeholders’ in the fundraiser. I already had firsthand accounts from LUTH. Here, Readers attention will be drawn to the face-to-face conversation between Mayowa’s family and Toyin Aimakhu, likewise, with other actors in the fundraiser also cited.
There is a 1:45 minutes video whereby Toyin Aimakhu was engaged by a lady who supposedly appeared to be a member of Mayowa’s family. The lady was heard telling Toyin, “chill chill, no matter how much you liked her, if doctors tell you should excuse her…” Toyin responded that “so you are recording me now”. Toyin alleged she was called and that she was later chased away. The lady and a guy replied Toyin, “who chased you”. There, it was obvious Toyin’s antics and games were going to be exposed. Toyin was observed in the video trying to defend herself, with the family saying “hold on, let her talk”. Toyin refused to speak any further to substantiate her claims as she walked away. She was followed by those involved in a heated discussion with her, with a guy requesting that, “Toyin, please give me Linda’s number, give me Linda’s number please, give me Linda’s number, give me Linda’s number”. It was at this point that Toyin turned back to face the crowd following her.
Toyin was heard saying “this is Linda’s number. It appeared she was responding to the accusation that she was the one who misinformed Linda Ikeji, an accusation she denied. In the video clip, Toyin was seen hitting her chest, shouting out, “me, called Linda, me called Linda”. The same guy in the scene told her to hold on, with the scene suggesting a phone call was going to be made to Linda to expose Toyin that she was the one who misinformed Linda. Toyin was heard saying “there is a press downstairs”. Obviously, that was an indication that she went to LUTH with pressmen. Two things were evident from the video, with one being that Linda Ikeji may have acted on misinformation. Two, it was apparent that Toyin Aimakhu was acting out a script well known to her and further that she may not have been contacted with the family to play a “major role” in the fundraiser.
In another video, Bode, a family member of Mayowa was heard swearing that before God, if the family did not lie, all of those who knew about the news of the scam and Mayowa’s travails, “oh God, set them backward in life”. Bode was apparently aggrieved as other members of his family were seen wearing downtrodden looks.
There is a third video involving Bode and supposedly, a lady with a link to Toyin. The lady (forthwith Lady A) was heard attributing faults to Aramide, implicitly agreeing to Bode’s stand that the family’s name was scandalized. Bode interjected pointing to someone not seen in the video, that “that was the person who caused everything”. Bode said Toyin created the whole scene. Bode also stated that he was called by Toyin with the Lady A declaring that Toyin didn’t know how the misinformation got to Linda.
Bode and others shouted down Lady A, insisting that Toyin called Linda. Lady A backed down, wondering why Toyin lied that she didn’t call Linda. Bode and others said Linda cited Toyin’s name and that Linda told them to watch a video after the court section. Linda’s claim to have spearheaded the fundraiser was also discredited. Lady A was heard saying it was Mayowa who led her own fundraiser, no one could claim to have done that. This confirmed what I heard from the family before the news of the alleged scam broke us. The family never wanted a public fundraiser. But Mayowa was pressed and possibly advised by non-family members to seek public support. Lady A said she was the one who advised her to consider that option. Bode told Lady A, they created this scene and that they were not God. Bode said in a dejected tone asking whether they saw a particular medical report. Bode said that they won’t give up on their sister until God elects to kill her. Linda/Toyin was also said to have claimed that the first lady, supposedly, Aisha Buhari called her.
News items through links such as http://www.nairaland.com/3256148/toyin-aimakhu-wanted-part-mayowa have surfaced indicating Toyin is acting a script related to the monetary gains someone intended to make out of the fundraiser. A firsthand account from folks with no affiliation to any of the parties involved in this saga indicated that Toyin never requested any percentage, but that Aramide of Lifestake Foundation did. That confirmed what was reported on Nairaland Forum, likewise by Premium Times (http://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/top-news/207789-nigeria-police-take-savemayowa-campaign-amidst-controversy-drama.html). It was also confirmed that not only did Aramide requested to be given 5% of the fundraiser, but also that her foundation be approved to handle the funds. The family of Mayowa objected to the two conditions. What cannot be ascertained for now is if there is a secret agreement committing certain percentage of the money Aramide was expecting to Toyin. Premium Times sources alluded that, with new waves of information reaching me suggesting that possibility. Soon as the information is confirmed from multiple sources, I will update the whole world. So far, it is reasonable to tentatively conclude as follows.
One, there was no attempt by Mayowa’s family to scam Nigeria. Two, Linda Ikeji misinformed the whole world by wrongly and authoritatively alleging that Mayowa’s fundraiser was a scam. Three, Toyin also played a big role in scandalizing Mayowa’s family. Four, Aramide Kasumu of Lifestake Foundation is the main actor in the attempt to scandalize Mayowa’s family, with her motives being money-driven.
I call on well-meaning Nigerians to stand up for Mayowa’s family. I further call on Nigerian citizens and friends worldwide to join efforts seeking to ensure those behind the attempt to scandalize Mayowa’s family are made to face the full wrath of the laws. I further call on the Nigerian government to take over the treatment of Mayowa by facilitating her travelling abroad with no further delay. Finally, I call on the First Lady, to dissociate herself of any involvement with Linda, Toyin or Aramide.
A. J. Abudugana