By Elizabeth Uwandu
Lagos—Emotions ran high as parents of Queens College students and sympathisers gathered at the requiem mass on Monday night in honour of Vivian Osuyi, a Junior Secondary School, JSS 2 student of the school who allegedly died of diarrhoea.
The death of Vivian and another unnamed student has drawn the ire of parents as they allege negligence by the school authority.
The Vice Chairman of the school’s Parents Teachers Association, PTA, simply identified as Alhaja Shittu who was present at Monday’s event, was challenged by the parents to give graphic details of the circumstances of the students’ death.
The parents also accused the former principal of the school, Dr Lami Amodu, transferred in the heat of the crisis to another school in Edo state, of incompetence because of the way she handled the crisis.
Parents, who spoke exclusively to Vanguard, said the victims died from cholera outbreak caused by the contamination of the school’s water system, a development they claimed the school authority knew about, yet it allowed students to drink the water.
They also alleged that the school facilities, especially the toilets, were not properly maintained, hence the spread of cholera infection.
Dead student’s father laments
For Mr Michael Osuyi, father to late Vivian, who was a boarder, her death was caused by gross misconduct on the part of the school authority.
According to Osuyi, Vivian, who was released by the school to her parents after an hour’s notice of her being seriously sick, was given anti-malarial drugs despite the symptom of stooling and vomiting.
He said the girl took the drugs judiciously yet her condition deteriorated resulting in her been taken to two hospitals where doctors confirmed her dehydrated.
“ My question is: why did the school authority give my daughter and other students who complained of being sick, malaria drugs?
‘’When the Chairman of the Parent-Teacher Association, Mr Ofor Dike, called to commiserate with my family, did he not admit that the school’s water supply was contaminated?
“Why was no immediate treatment given to the students, rather the Chairman alleged that he personally bought 3,000 bags of pure water for the students?
‘’Why were students banned from calling their parents in case of emergency? And why was my family called at 5pm on Saturday, February 11, to inform us of Vivian’s deteriorating health? These are the questions I’m asking Queen’s College,” Osuyi lamented.
Another parent, who gave his name simply as Pastor Emmanuel said his daughter, a JSS 2 student, who escaped death by the whiskers, would have been a victim also but for the timely treatment given to her over a toilet infection during the Christmas holiday.
He said she was also medically checked after she came back from the recent mid-term break.
Narrating his daughter’s ordeal, Emmanuel said: “My only daughter contacted toilet infection which affected her private part from the school when she came back for the Christmas holiday. Again, after she came back for this mid-term break, we had to send her for medical check-up because of the circumstances under which the two students died.
“One of the tests conducted on her showed that she had acute typhoid. Her case would not have been different if not for God’s intervention, he added.
One other parent who craved anonymity, said he was not sure of his daughter’s fate. The girl, a JSS 3 student is currently receiving treatment for diarrhoea.
According to him, the victims of diarrhoea outbreak in Queen’s College would have been more but for the mid-term break that made parents rush their wards for medical check-up and treatment where necessary.
“Since my daughter came home for the break, she has been stooling and vomiting. She was admitted and diagnosed of diarrhoea, however she has been discharged but she is still taking her medications. I fear for her as I don’t know what her fate will be,” he said.
Another parent, Mrs Obi said: “How can a Principal tell parents to disregard what took the lives of two students and also put over 200 students in critical condition as mere rumour? This is a clear case of the spread of an epidemic.
‘’Rather, than seek solution to the crisis, she blamed the report of the deaths on rumour mongers, claiming that it was only one JSS 2 student that died in her parent’s home two weeks ago.
“I am still at a loss over this development. We had our inter-house-sport on Wednesday and the students immediately left for home for midterm break.
“As I’m speaking to you, there is no student in school, so where is the rumour of the epidemic coming from? Who is behind this new round of rumour?”
Another parent added that, “We don’t mind our children staying at home until this issue is resolved.”