It was the day the three-year old Frank Iwuchukwu, was saved from an abandoned 100 feet borehole, close to the chancery of St. Paul’s Cathedral, Ezeoke Nsu.
Preaching the homily during a thanksgiving service, arranged by the Diocese, in honour of the boy, Bishop David O. C. Onuoha, said it was a harrowing experience that lasted for about 23 hours.The story as reported by Vanguard is better told by the Bishop:
“It all started the previous day, Monday, October 15, when the little boy, whose mother died about four months ago, joined his peers to the Cathedral Church for Monday class. Little Frank and his siblings are under the care of his aunty, Mrs. Christy Nzeduru, following his mother’s death.
“Frank and his fellow children, were making their way to the Cathedral Hall, oblivious that danger was lurking on their way. Weeds had covered the barren borehole, drilled about two years ago, in search of water.
“Frank, unknowingly stepped on the yawning hole and his six-year old elder sister, Agape Iwuchukwu, made frantic efforts to prevent him from falling in. She had to let go and started looking for people to assist her prevent the brother from going down. By the time people arrived the scene, the little boy was already 100 feet below the earth.
HOW THE BISHOP ARRIVED THE SCENE
“I arrived the scene on receiving a distress call from one of the priests in the Cathedral at 5.45pm. What I saw was a revival of the indomitable spirit of Ezeoke patriots, as everyone was engaged in one activity or the other, with a view to bringing the boy out alive.
“Inside the church, women were seen rolling on the floor, weeping and praying for divine intervention. Outside, young men were very busy, trying one technique or the other. Others stood by, offering one idea or the other. Children were all over the place, weeping uncontrollably. People forgot food, sleep and rest. They were all united in the effort to bring out Frank.
ARRIVAL OF FIRE SERVICE PERSONNEL
“We were advised that fire service was the only department with the skill to handle such emergencies. They came from Umuahia, Abia State, and Owerri. They tried their best without success.
“By 1.30am, an idea was proffered that a parallel rescue well should be dug very near to the one holding the boy. The idea was to connect the two, on reaching the level where the boy was.
HAUSAS CAME INTO THE PICTURE
“Our brothers from the Northern part of the country, who are reputed for this type of mission, came to the rescue, without asking for any reward. By the time I left at 2.45am, the digging of the second hole had commenced in earnest. I left the Divisional Police Officer, DPO, of Ehime Mbano Police Division, the Chairman of the local government council and the Commissioner for Science and Technology, Mr. Emmanuel Buka, at the scene of the incident.
“I returned to the scene at 8.30am to observe work was progressing speedily. The assurance that the boy was alive sustained, by constant communication with him and his regular demand for tea and biscuits, were the fuel the rescuers needed to fire on with the rescue effort.
“About 3pm, the work had gone up to 60 feet, with approximately 28 more feet to get to the level where the lad was.
THE LAST EFFORT
“I got information that one of those digging the well was weeping uncontrollably and I sent for him to know why. He told me of the plans to open a window between the two wells for the boy to come out, but his colleagues were not buying into the idea. When I saw the passion, zeal and conviction in him, I was left in no doubt that the time for the miracle had come. I immediately agreed with the DPO that he should be given a chance.
“The young man, Hassan, a motor mechanic, who was in Ezeoke to repair a vehicle, was also attracted to the scene. He went in, opened the connecting window and lowered a sack with ropes at the two sides and asked the boy to get into the sack and he started pulling it. After a while, there were shouts of joy, because the boy was now in the new well, ready to move to the surface. The atmosphere was charged! The young man carried the boy on his shoulders and painstakingly climbed up to the surface.
“Here was Frank alive. The doctor later confirmed that the boy had no fracture, no internal injury, no serious wound, save minor bruises on his left hand and at his back.”
MRS. CHRISTY NZEDURU SPEAKS
“I can’t thank God enough for this miracle. I do not know what the world would have said about my husband and myself, if this boy had died!”
ENDOWMENT FUND CREATED FOR HIM
The Bishop announced the immediate founding of Miracle Endowment Fund. Kicking it off, the former Deputy Speaker of Imo State House of Assembly, Dr Jonas Okeke, announced automatic scholarship for the boy, from primary to university level. He also announced a N1 million donation towards the endowment.
Sir Ikenna Chukwuocha also announced full scholarship for the boy, to the university level. Tochi Ihekwoaba also announced scholarship up to secondary school level. Some others gave cash to boost the fund.