About 17 months after three students died under poor condition at Queens College, Lagos, there have been no official probe report or anyone held culpable as earlier promised by the Minister of Education Adamu Adamu when the incident occurred.
Praise Sodipe, Bithia and Vivian died sometimes in 2017 due to alleged negligence by the school management to respond to complaints and years of decadence and rot of facilities in the college, according to The Cable.
At age eight, Praise had become an orphan and had been living with Lawrence Otun, his uncle. Admitted on merit into the Queen’s College, her dream was to become an accountant, just like her late dad.
The 14-year-old fell sick on February 18, 2017 while still at school, and one of her friends assisted her to the sickbay. But no one in the school informed Lawrence or his wife that their girl was ill.
Otun’s wife, who had only gone there on mid-term break to pick her up, had to search frantically before she could locate Praise who thereafter explained she had been unwell. The woman took her to a private hospital at Akoka for medical examination.
By the time they got there, the laboratory had closed for the day while the doctor on duty recommended that malaria treatment should start immediately for three days. When the malaria persisted, the doctor recommended for a scan to be done.
However, he discovered some abscess around her stomach while conducting some checks. He said the girl’s case would have to be referred to the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH).
Laboratory tests would show that Praise had “perforated intestines.” After undergoing surgery, she spent about five weeks at the hospital while her uncle and the family spent huge sums of money all in a bid to ensure she stayed alive.
As the case with Praise, tests also revealed 13-year-old Bithia’s intestines had been perforated as a result of typhoid occasioned mostly by the consumption of contaminated water and foods. Winning scholarships and many prizes for her brilliant academic performance, the Bithia’s dream was to become a lawyer.
Vivian who was the first to die under similar condition, wanted to be a reverend sister cum medical doctor.
An investigative series by The Cable showed the negligence by the school management to respond to complaints and years of decadence and rot of facilities in the college as well as the failure of officials of the federal ministry of education in Abuja in effectively and efficiently performing their regulatory and oversight functions over unity schools in the country, apparently, resulted in the tragic deaths of the three girls.
The school management had ignored concerned parents’ alarm and old students’ warnings on contaminated water sources and looming epidemic.
According to The Cable, the students’ deaths could have been prevented had Lami Amodu, the then school principal, acted on time. Amodu is now the director of basic education in the country.
The Lagos ministry of health would later reveal to the public that health records from the school’s sickbay indicated that that no less than 1,200 pupils had come to the school’s sickbay between January 15 and February 15, 2017 on account of abdominal pain, fever, vomiting and diarrhea as a result of the gastroenteritis epidemic.
Another test conducted by the health ministry on the food handlers in the college also revealed that they were carriers of amoebiasis, typhoid and tapeworm. To compound an already bad situation, sewage-contaminated water was used for cooking.