Patrick Sawyer’s undiplomatic behaviour

The Latin phrases De mortuis nihil nisi bonum (Of the dead, nothing unless good) and De mortuis nil nisi bene [dicendum] (Of the dead, nothing {spoken} unless good) indicate that it is socially inappropriate to speak ill of the dead.

There have been several notable deaths of either very evil people, or people who helped enable evil people. For each of these passings, the threads have been full of posts gloating or chastising the gloaters.

So why exactly is it bad to acknowledge that the world is a slightly better place now that some people are gone, if for nothing more than a sense of justice?
“They aren’t here to defend themselves” is a weak argument, since many bad people, while living, felt no guilt in attacking the defenseless.
“It’s disrespectful” also does not work. What is it about death that automatically grants one the respect that many were not willing to grant them in life because of their evil deeds?
“Think of the family?” Did the deceased think of the families of those who they were hurting? Did the deceaseds’ families try and prevent the evil done by their loved ones?

My column this week is about the Liberian who imported Ebola into Nigeria. Ebola has been in some West African countires since 1976 Nigeria had absolutely nothing to do with it. This is the first time in 38 years that the virus would cross into Nigeria.

From information emanating from his own country, the late diplomat knew for sure he had been infected and was at the throes of death. He knew very well that he should not come in contact with other people, yet he decided to travel to Nigeria.

Shortly after his death, a Liberian newspaper, The New Dawn, reported thus: “Images from a Close Circuit Television (CCTV) monitored here at the James Spriggs Payne’s Airport have shown how the late Patrick Sawyer was terribly ill before boarding the Nigeria bond (sic)  flight. The late Patrick from the recording, it appears he knew, he had been infected by the deadly tropical disease.

“His behavior, among other passengers waiting at the boarding gate was strange. His face bore a sad countenance like someone who was troubled, as he sat alone avoiding body contacts with everyone who came close by him.

“His strange behavior and frequent movement up and down as he eagerly awaits his ASky flight had prompted the security camera operator to focus on him. In the video, Patrick could be seen avoiding physical contacts with airport employees and other passengers during the check in process.

“After checking in, Patrick briefings (sic) left the terminal, but he would soon be shown sitting in an isolated area by himself at the boarding gate or waiting room. The video footage also shows the late Patrick lying flat on his stomach on the floor in the corridor of the airport a sign of someone in excruciating pain.

“This writer, who also watched the video footage of Patrick at the Spriggs Payne Airport said the late Patrick was seen preventing people from touching him. The recording shows him snubbing an Immigration officer who was seen moving straight toward him in a friendly gesture for a handshake as he boarded the flight. The footage was shown after his death was announced upon arrival in Nigeria.”

What further evidence does one require? The guy knew he had been infected and he knew very well the implication of his travel. Even his wife in a video clip I watched online confirmed that they knew he had been infected after making contact with his sister who had died of the disease a few days earlier.

The Liberian government also confirmed in an apology tendered to Nigeria that Sawyer’s action was anything but noble.

“The Liberian President has personally called to apologise on the unfortunate development. She specifically said her country had declared a state of emergency over the Ebola epidermic in Liberia. She equally apologised that Sawyer ignored medical advice and escaped out of Liberia,” Nigeria’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Nurudeem Mohammed, told journalists in Abuja on Thursday.

But what worries me is why Sawyer was not stopped from travelling by the airport officials who noticed his sickly condition. And how could he have escaped out of Liberia? He escaped through the nation’s international airport? Did he disguise in the robes of a woman? And since the Liberian authorities knew his state of health, why didn’t they alert their Nigerian counterparts?

If Sawyer’s recalcitrant disposition in his own country does not baffle you, listen to what he did to the medical team trying to save his live here in Nigeria. Another Liberian newspaper, FrontPageAfrica captures it: “Barely 24 hours before his death, Patrick Sawyer had a rather strange – and in the words of medical and diplomatic sources here, “Indiscipline” encounter with nurses and health workers at First Consultants Hospital in Obalende, one of the most crowded parts of Lagos, a population of some 21 million inhabitants, FrontPageAfrica has learned.

“Looking to get to the bottom of Sawyer’s strange ailment on the Asky Airline flight, which Sawyer transferred on in Togo, hospital officials say, he was tested for both malaria and HIV AIDS. However, when both tests came back negative, he was then asked whether he had made contact with any person with the Ebola Virus, to which Sawyer denied. Sawyer’s sister, Princess had died of the deadly virus on Monday, July 7, 2014 at the Catholic Hospital in Monrovia. On Friday, July 25, 2014, 18 days later, Sawyer died in Lagos.

“Authorities at the First Consultants Hospital in Obalende decided that despite Sawyer’s denial, they would test him for Ebola, due to the fact that he had just arrived from Liberia, where there has been an outbreak of the disease with more than 100 deaths. The hospital issued a statement this week stating that Sawyer was quarantined immediately after he was discovered to have been infected with the deadly virus. In addition, a barrier nursing was implemented around Sawyer and the Lagos State Ministry of Health was immediately notified. Hospital authorities also requested the Federal Ministry of Health for additional laboratory test based on its suspicion of Ebola.

“FrontPageAfrica has now learned that upon being told he had Ebola, Mr. Sawyer went into a rage, denying and objecting to the opinion of the medical experts. “He was so adamant and difficult that he took the tubes from his body and took off his pants and urinated on the health workers, forcing them to flee.”

The emphasis is mine.

Need I say more? This guy behaved badly. He came to inflict pains on Nigeria and Nigerians. And it has to be said and documented for posterity.

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