The discomfort in his body was evident as he sat in the chair to share the sad tale that he has now come to associate with since Friday, September 9, 2011. The scars on his face and the dark patches around his neck are scary giving the young man a less attractive look. Hakeem Abdulraheem is suffering from acid burns that have put a wedge between his dreams to step into the shoes of Jay Jay Okocha, ace Nigerian footballer. What was once a broad chest now looks like fibrous roots of a tree.
That was not how he looked a month before the incident, when he took part in a screening exercise that would see 20 young Nigerians selected for an Under-16 Football Academy in France. The exercise took place in Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State. His trip to France for Monday, September 12, this year had been finalised. Preparations were now in top gear, and he had returned to Owode, Ogun State to say farewell to his family, loved ones and friends . He was among the 20 people, who after a screening exercise carried out by some football agents from France, were selected to attend the Football Academy. They were chosen out of 2,000 participants. But at about midnight that day while asleep in his home in Owode, the unexpected happened.
“Five men with their faces covered with masks just rushed into my room, and as they came in they just went for my international passport that had my visa in it,” he said, barely managing to get the words out of his mouth. He struggled with the men, and the scuffle, which ensued, resulted in an acid bath. “They just poured acid on my face, and ran out,” he said. He screamed for help, but the damage had been done. As the acid flowed down it further deformed his body.
Abdulraheem’s dream of becoming a football star now hangs in the balance. Since the sad incident, he has been finding it difficult to chew and gulp down food items because part of the skin covering his lower jaw has been stitched to his neck by surgeons that treated the burns. His neck is stiff and his diet now comprises of energy drinks. Sleep, too has become a painful experience.
He now requires N2.2million to undergo surgical operations at Artemis Hospital in New Delhi, India. Several treatments at Ahmadiyah Hospital in Ojokoro, Ogun State, followed by further treatments at Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, and Shirsh hospital in Sango Ota, Ogun State, have only helped a little even after hundreds of thousands of naira has been spent. “My mother has been hospitalized as a result of shock and inability to raise the money required for my surgery in India,” he said. “She has sold all she has to raise the money, yet it is not enough.”
Nasirudeen, his father, is now appealing for financial assistance to help raise the N2.2million for the medical treatment in India. “We thank God he is alive, and we are pleading for financial assistance,” he said. The family of Abdulraheem can be reached on 08082999644 or 08032693939.