In 2014, Ebola Viral Disease (EVD) broke out in Africa, causing global pandemonium as there was no cure for the killer disease. The countries worst hit were Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea where the outbreak began in December 2013. The epidermic took virtually all attention and discussions of the World Health Organization (WHO) during the period. In July 2014, sick American-Liberian, Patrick Sawyer, found his way into Nigeria being fully aware of his predicament on the excuse that “he came to seek better medical attention” – a claim made by his wife upon his death. The news caused panic in the country because of the stories emanating from the countries where the disease already had its stronghold.
It took the bravery and courage of Dr. Ameyo Stella Adadevoh, who was the lead Consultant at First Consultant Medical Center, a private hospital in Obalende, Lagos with her team, to curtail the spread of the virus all over the country, as according to the story, Patrick sawyer insisted on leaving the hospital to attend an ECOWAS conference in the southern state of Cross River. But Dr. Adadevoh would have none of that. She defied all odds, discharged her duties with professionalism, maintained due diligence despite the threats and intimidation and above all, risked her life just to save her country from the devastating catastrophe the spread of the deadly disease would have caused.
Nigeria would later come to realize the great service this lady did to the nation when word got out that she was not ‘originally’ on duty on that fateful day, as all the public health facilities nationwide were on strike at that time, but she responded to the emergency by showing up at the hospital and with that godly act, she saved the Nigeria from the epidemic that would have brought the country to its knees. Her demise, alongside her team which included, a newly employed, pregnant nurse who just resumed at the hospital was a national tragedy. At exactly three months after the invasion in July, Nigeria was declared Ebola free on 20th October 2014 by Dr. Margaret Chan, the Director-General of WHO.
But the decision by Nollywood, Nigeria’s movie industry, to capture in a movie, the last days of the late heroine, Dr Stella Adadevoh, did not go down well with the family and as such, has sparked a brewing controversy between the two parties. The Steve Gukas movie, titled “93 Days” tells the story of the bravery and resilience of Dr. Adadevoh and her team in the face of disaster. It features a good mix of both local and international casts such as Danny Glover (Hollywood actor), Bimbo Akintola, Keppy Ekpeyong Bassey, Somkele Iyamah Idhalama, Bimbo Manuel, Charles Okafor, Gideon Okeke, etc, to ensure excellence and international exposure.
Below is the statement, issued by the family of Dr. Stella Adedevoh, signed by a Dr, Ama Adadevoh, denying the family’s involvement with the movie and expressing their displeasure at the entire idea:
The producers of the film, “93 Days” have also responded to the allegations with a press release of their own. According to them, the movie is entirely about Dr. Stella Adadevoh and as such does not need the family’s permission to go ahead with its production. The movie, they said, is a celebration of everyone who stood for what is right during the Nigerian Ebola scare last year.
Read full statement below:
“We hereby categorically and strongly deny all the allegations contained in the recent press statement released by one Dr Anna Adadevoh, who claims to be acting on behalf of the Cardoso and Adadevoh families. The said allegations are not only untrue they are malicious and scurrilous and a calculated attempt to sabotage our feature film, 93 Days.
93 Days is not the biopic of anyone individual and has never claimed to be the story of Doctor Stella Adadevoh. Whilst that in itself is a strong story, we found it more compelling to tell a story that celebrates many of the heroes of the fight against Ebola.
These include the doctors, nurses and staff of First Consultant’s Hospital, the employees of the Lagos State and Federal Ministries of Health, Members of the Emergency Operations Centre(EOC), corporate and individual Nigerians who rose to the challenge of fighting the scourge as well as the WHO team that came into help at the risk of personal injury and even death.
For us, this presented a more universal story of human courage, dedication and sacrifice that may inspire our great country and its people. Ours is a pride story that shows Nigeria at one of its finest hours and casts our country in a positive light around the world. To ensure the universal appeal of the film we enlisted, at great cost, Nigerian and International actors to feature in the film. Amongst these were Danny Glover, Keppy Ekpeyong and Bimbo Akintola.
We want to state plainly that we do not require anyone’s consent to make the film as we have a constitutionally guaranteed right to freedom of speech and expression. Besides, the matters portrayed in the film were derived from facts that are well within the public domain and those facts which were not already publicly known were provided to us by those privy to the said facts. For instance, we obtained additional information from interviews with the survivors of those who lost loved ones, volunteer doctors and nurses as well as officials of the Lagos State Ministry of Health.
“To honor those protagonists of the Ebola story it was essential for us that the film be, as much as possible, an accurate, genuine and sincere record of the facts relating to the country’s efforts to fight the disease. Infact, that was the only way of doing justice to those brave individuals (and foreigners) who had given so much in the service of the country.
To this end and contrary to the allegations contained in the press statement released by Dr Anna Adadevoh, we enlisted the help of the Adadevoh and Cardoso families from day one. They gave their comments on the script and their amendments were incorporated into the final script. Further, the late Stella Adadevoh’s son, Bankole Cardoso, consented to the making of the film and to being portrayed in the film.
Not only did he consent, he was kind enough to provide us with information concerning his late mother’s actions during those trying times. The facts provided by him proved useful in the development of the script and we have his interview on film should anyone require further proof. In essence, the story of Dr. Stella Adadevoh depicted in the film was obtained partly from facts provided to us by the Adadevoh and Cardoso families and more importantly by her son, Bankole Cardoso.
We are aware that Dr Ama Adadevoh and certain elements within the family are involved in another film project on the Ebola story and are attempting to derail our film in the misguided belief that to do so would ensure the success of their film. It is plainly wrong for these people to try and monopolize the Ebola story exclusively for themselves by trying to prevent the making and release of a film that so many of the people concerned have supported and contributed to.
Our film features many of the people who were in the vanguard of the fight against the terrible disease. Many of these people lost loved ones and made other sacrifices still unknown to a majority of Nigerians. They have supported the film and want their story told and it is only fair that their stories are told.”