Second Republic Vice-President, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, is alive, waiting to be flown abroad for medical attention, the Archbishop of the Anglican Diocese of Enugu, Emmanuel Chukwuma, disclosed after visiting the elder statesman in hospital on Tuesday.
Rumour, which spread through the social media, had it that Ekwueme had passed on at the Memphys Hospital of Neurosurgery, Enugu in the early hours of Tuesday.
The octogenarian was hospitalised after collapsing at his residence in the Independence Layout on October 28.
Reports of Ekwueme’s demise led to confusion and anxiety in Enugu on Tuesday as the elder statesman’s associates, as well as members of the public, scrambled to confirm the development.
However, Bishop Chukwuma debunked the reports after visiting Ekwueme in the hospital on Tuesday afternoon.
It was learnt that the former Vice-President is one of the Archbishop’s parishioners at The Cathedral of the Good Shepherd, Independence Layout, Enugu.
In an encounter with journalists when he came out of Ekwueme’s ward in the hospital at about 2.25 pm, Chukwuma declared that the elder statesman was alive, and not dead.
He also revealed that Ekwueme was waiting to be flown abroad.
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“The rumour making the rounds is not true. I can tell you as we speak that arrangements are being finalized by the Federal Government to get an air ambulance to fly him abroad as soon as the government gets an air ambulance,” the cleric said.
Chukwuma did not provide further details as he hurried out of the hospital.
But a source in the hospital, who did not wish to be named, disclosed that the Archbishop prayed for the former Vice-President during the visit.
However, a medical personnel told our correspondent that Ekwueme opened his eyes for the first time since he was brought to the hospital on Tuesday.
A PUNCH correspondent, who was at the hospital on Tuesday, observed that security has been beefed up at the medical facility because of Ekwueme’s presence.
A police patrol vehicle was stationed near the hospital and security operatives were observed around the premises.
The source added that “only those authorised by Ekwueme’s family are allowed access to him in the hospital.”
Ekwueme, who celebrated his 85th birthday on October 10, is said to be suffering from a chest infection, according to a statement released by his family.