Late Dr John Chike Akunyili’s children have disclosed that their father had in his skull a bullet sustained from the Nigerian Civil War before the gunshots in Anambra State on Tuesday ended his life.
They revealed that the bullet was embedded in the skull as a result of the gunshot injuries he sustained during the war between 1967 and January 1970.
The six children recounted how Chike Akunyili fought in the war, noting that after his experience of violence and death, he went on to become a doctor, saving thousands of lives.
“As a young man, he fought as a soldier in the Biafra war – a war that earned him a bullet that stayed lodged in his skull ever since.
“From this experience of violence and death, he went on to become a doctor saving thousands of lives — a powerful testament to his journey through life”, the children said.
They noted that he started his healing journey in the north where he built and ran a mobile clinic, stressing perhaps the whole life injury informed his passion for medicine.
“He was a healer. A passionate surgeon, Dr. Chike was the Medical Director at St. Leo’s Hospital in Enugu. For decades he served countless people, many of whom he cared for and healed at no cost. His one request was always that they paid it forward.
“For many months, he lived and worked among the people, studying and becoming fluent in Hausa to better serve his patients. His commitment to providing healthcare to that community earned him the National Youth Service Merit Award,” the children added in the tribute.
The tribute was signed by; Dr. Ijeoma Akunyili, Dr. Somto Asuzu, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Chidiogo Akunyili-Parr and Obumneme Akunyili.
The last child, Obumneme that saw his father alive, and works as the director-general of Anambra State Project Management and Monitoring Office, told BBC Pidgin that his dad was shot in the face by gunmen who opened fire on his vehicle at Nkpor, Anambra State.
“His driver and a policeman assigned to him also died in the shooting. A cousin survived and is being treated in hospital,” Obumneme added.