Lagos Govt Commences Investigation Into Reported Disease Outbreak In Queens College

File Photo; Queens College

 

The Lagos State government says it has commenced an investigation into the purported outbreak of an air-borne flu in Queens College and other schools in the state.

In a statement signed by the Director, Public Affairs of the state, Tunbosun Ogunbanwo, the Commissioner for Health, Professor Akin Abayomi, was said to have disclosed this on Tuesday.

According to Abayomi, the investigative team comprises officials of State Epidemiology team, Primary Health Care Services and Environmental Health Department of Lagos Mainland Local Government.

While reviewing preliminary reports of the investigations conducted by the team, Abayomi explained that they identified what appears to be a sporadic increase in upper respiratory tract infections characterized by cough, cattarh, fever and weakness across some schools.

“The team has since visited Queens College and investigations are ongoing. Findings according to the review of health records in the school sick bay revealed that 89 students presented to the clinic with Influenza-like illnesses”, he said.

He added that a walk-through inspection to other facilities in the school revealed that although environmental sanitation and water supply were optimal, they could be improved.

The Commissioner, therefore, stated that nasal swab samples will be collected from pupils for confirmation of the cause of the illness.

He, however, appealed to stakeholders of Queens College, other affected schools and residents of Lagos State to remain calm and ensure strict adherence to personal and environmental hygiene at all times even as they await the comprehensive report of the investigation.

“I assure you that the situation is under control and seems to be subsiding. We will give necessary updates as the assessment and investigation progresses”, Abayomi said.

Speaking further, he advised all schools in Lagos State, either day or boarding to adopt basic precautionary measures against diseases and illnesses by teaching and ensuring good hand washing practices, promoting personal hygiene and providing adequate hand washing points within the school premises.

“They must also commence and continue to raise awareness about respiratory etiquette such as covering of mouth with clean hands or handkerchiefs when coughing or sneezing, and washing hands immediately after.

“School management must also hold food handlers and vendors to the highest health and hygiene check protocols as stipulated in the law, and practiced world over”, the Commissioner posited.

He also advised parents not to send their children to school if they have features of an upper respiratory tract infection such as a cold, or flu-like symptoms but rather have a doctor review them

He appealed to School authorities as well as citizens to report suspected case(s) of any strange illnesses and diseases to the nearest Public Health Facility or the Medical Officer of Health (MOH) their local government area or to the Directorate of Disease Control in the Ministry of Health through the following lines: 08023169485, 08023377487.

SERAP Writes UN To Probe FG, Queens College Over Students’ Death

Alleged Corruption: SERAP Writes Buhari Over SGF's CaseThe Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has petitioned four UN Special Rapporteurs.

The group is urging them to use their “good offices and mandates to request the Nigerian government and the authorities at Queen’s College, Lagos to end continuing suffering of students, ensure justice and effective remedies for the unnecessary loss of lives of three pupils of the school.”

The rapporteurs petitioned are: Ms. Koumbou Boly Barry, Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education; Mr Leo Heller, Special Rapporteur on the Human Right to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation; Ms. Hilal Elver, Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food; and Professor Philip Alston, Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights.

In a statement by the SERAP Deputy Director Timothy Adewale, the organization expressed “serious concern that alleged corruption by the leadership of the school has ruined the lives of several pupils, and squandered their potential for personal development.

These girls have depended on the integrity of the authorities both at the Federal Ministry of Education and the school levels but have been badly let down by those entrusted with the power to provide them with access to quality education in a safe environment.”

According to SERAP, “the apparent failure to exercise due diligence and to fulfil the obligations to respect, protect, promote and fulfill the right of these girls to quality education is buttressed by the fact that the school management repeatedly ignored early warnings and complaints from students and parents, the failure to improve facilities and conditions in the school, and the alleged demand of illegal fees and bribes from parents by the school authorities.”

The petition copied to Mr Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, read in part: “SERAP is concerned about the failure of the leadership of the Federal Ministry of Education to diligently, effectively and efficiently exercise its regulatory and oversight functions over Queen’s College and other unity schools across the country. Corruption seems a commonplace across different levels at Queen’s College.”

“The absence of accountability mechanisms within the Federal Ministry of Education is further illustrated by the failure to sanction the leadership of Queen’s College for apparently failing to prevent unnecessary loss of lives and to protect the girls’ right to education in a safe and protected environment.”

“Many of the girls have suffered devastating consequences of corruption, neglect and incompetence, leading to a disregard for their human rights. Yet, those suspected to be responsible for these serious human rights violations have continued to escape justice, thus benefiting from impunity.”

“SERAP believes that preventing and punishing the alleged corruption, mismanagement and failure of the Federal Ministry of Education and the school authorities to exercise due diligence to prevent the unnecessary loss of lives would help to remedy the situation, and to re-establish trust in the legitimacy and integrity of Queen’s College and other public schools.”

“Although the International Human Rights Law requires that the material conditions of teaching staff must be continuously improved, the reverse is the case at Queen’s College and several unity schools across the country, as the general working conditions of teachers have deteriorated sharply, reaching unacceptably low levels.

Not only is this inconsistent with the government’s international obligations to establish minimum educational standards but it is also a failure of the responsibility to closely monitor educational institutions.”
“SERAP believes that Nigerian children have the right to safety in school establishments that are conducive to a positive learning environment.”

SERAP therefore urged the Special Rapporteurs to:

Put pressure on the Federal Government of Nigeria and the authorities at Queen’s College to urgently end the apparently deteriorating situation and living conditions of girls in the school and to strengthen the school’s reputation.

Ask the Federal Government of Nigeria to establish Code of Conduct for Queen’s College and other unity schools across the country, including on the proper professional conduct required of the schools’ authorities and their relationship with Parents Teachers Association and other bodies, and to specify the consequences of non-compliance as well as provide for timely remedial action.

To urge the Federal Government of Nigeria to audit Queen’s College and other unity schools across the country and to compel the schools’ authorities to embrace ‘integrity pledges’ between those schools and parent groups in order to incentivise anti-corruption practices and improve the schools’ reputation.

Also, ask the Federal Government of Nigeria to promptly, thoroughly, impartially and transparently investigate the circumstances surrounding the deaths of the three girls, and to bring anyone that is found to be responsible to justice as well as provide adequate compensation to the victims and their families, and publicly guarantee non-repetition.

And request to visit the country to assess the efforts by the Federal Ministry of Education and Queen’s College to implement these recommendations.

It was reported that, three students of Queen’s College, Lagos–Vivian Osuinyi, Bithia Itulua and Praise Sodipo–died between February and March 2017 primarily due to systemic corruption and the failure of the authorities including the Federal Ministry of Education, and the leadership of the school to exercise due diligence to ensure the right to life of the students including by ensuring access to safe drinking water and sanitation.”

“An investigative Team found that school management ignored parents’ and old students’ early warnings on contaminated water and foods.

No one has yet to be held to account for these alleged serious violations of human rights. According to the Investigative Team, the three girls died as a result of consumption of contaminated water and foods in the school.

Many students also became seriously ill between January and March 2016, with several reporting different forms of infections. Many girls manifested signs of skin, vaginal and abdominal infections, stooling and vomiting.”

Senate To Investigate Queen’s College Deaths

Senate To Investigate Queens College DeathsThe death of three female students in Queen’s College, Lagos has sparked a debate in the Senate, as the lawmakers vowed to investigate the incident.

The Upper Chamber condemned the unsanitary and deplorable living conditions of the school, which they said led to the illness of several others.

Also Read: Queen’s College Remains Shut To Students

According to a laboratory report, at least 1,222 students of the secondary school were treated at the school’s clinic for abdominal pain, fever, vomiting and diarrhea, since the beginning of January 2017.

Speaking during plenary on Tuesday, the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, noted that anyone found culpable of criminal negligence in the school would be punished.

Also Read: Queen’s College Students Resume Classes

The lawmakers directed the Minister of Education, Mr Adamu Adamu, to urgently upgrade the infrastructure in the school, provide safe water, sewage treatment, and expand the boarding facilities to decongest the dormitories.

They also mandated the Senate Committee Chairman on Appropriation to make adequate funding in the 2017 budget to upgrade the infrastructure in Queen’s College.

Queen’s College Remains Shut To Students

Queen’s College will remain shut to all students except the Junior Secondary School students who would only come in for their ongoing examinations on a daily basis until water sources in the school become fit for human consumption.

This was made known by the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, during an inspection tour of the school’s water and other facilities.

Dr. Ehanire who was accompanied by the Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris and the school Principal, Mrs Biola, among others, said the gaps in the school water supply source which led to the unfortunate death of three students are being fixed so that such tragedy will not repeat itself.

A laboratory report had shown that since the beginning of January 2017, over 1,222 students of the secondary school, had been treated at the school’s clinic for abdominal pain, fever, vomiting and diarrhea.

Also, 16 of them were purportedly admitted to various hospitals in the country.

While two others had died, one was said to be in the intensive care unit of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH).

This was revealed in a statement by the Unity School Old Students’ Association (USOSA).

The association added that water sources in the school were contaminated by pathogens.

“The analysis also indicates that the boreholes that provide principal sources of water for the school are too shallow and too close in proximity to the sewage systems, to which the contamination has been traced,”

President of the association, Chidi Odinkalu, subsequently accused the school authorities of concealing the facts from the public, noting that the school has shown reckless disregard for the lives of the students.

Queens College Students Resume Classes

queens-collegeThe Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, has directed the resumption of exam classes (JSS3 & SS3) only, of students of the Queens College, Yaba, Lagos state.

They are expected to resume as day students from Monday March 20, 2017 between the hours of 7:30 am-2:30 pm.

The new directive is coming contrary to the earlier text messages sent by the school management, asking all parents to return their wards to school on March 19.

The Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Dr. OlaJide Idris, during a news conference on Thursday, had advised that the School resumption “be delayed till appropriate measures have been put in place for the safety of the students”.

Subsequently, some parents visited the school to meet with the Principal, Mrs Aduke Are, and get first hand information about the resumption as well as see what measures have been put in place to safeguard the welfare and safety of their wards.

Mrs Are, while addressing the parents, assured them that management had been following all the recommendations by the Lagos State Ministry of Health.

She said among other developments, that a water treatment plant had been certified while the 500ft deep industrial bore hole which serves as the main source of water for the entire premises has also been revamped and is functioning.

Two Students Dead

A laboratory report had shown that since the beginning of January 2017, over 1,222 students of the secondary school, have been treated at the school’s clinic for abdominal pain, fever, vomiting and diarrhea.

Also, 16 of them have been purportedly admitted to various hospitals in the country, and while two others have died, one is said to be currently in the intensive care unit of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH).

This was revealed in a statement by the Unity School Old Students’ Association (USOSA).

The association added that water sources in the school were contaminated by pathogens.

“The analysis also indicates that the boreholes that provide principal sources of water for the school are too shallow and too close in proximity to the sewage systems, to which the contamination has been traced,”

President of the association, Chidi Odinkalu, subsequently accused the school authorities of concealing the facts from the public, noting that the school has shown reckless disregard for the lives of the students.

VIDEO: Queens College Students Protest In Support Of Alleged Molester

Protesting_girlsSome students of Queens College, Lagos are protesting over an alleged case of sexual harassment of a junior secondary school student.

Reports on social media claimed that the student was abused by a teacher, Olaseni Oshifala, but the school authority has denied this claim.

The Principal of the school, Lami Amodu, who said in a statement that she has “zero tolerance for such behaviour”, maintained that “no single parent has come to me or any of my Vice-Principals to report Olaseni as a molester.

“I have investigated and we are not relenting in our determination to get to the bottom of this case.

“The man in question has been of impeccable character and committed service since I resumed work here. I can vouch for him”. She said

A mother of a student at Queen’s College Lagos had written to a blog, alleging that a teacher, sexually harassed her daughter.

“I would like to report the management of Queen’s College, Yaba. As I write, the principal and vice principals have, over a month now, deliberately suppressed several complaints of sexual harassment which my daughter and some other students have consistently reported to their class teacher, their year head, the head of department of the accused teacher and the principal’s office.

“My daughter is in JSS2, second term at Queen’s College. During their visiting day in first term she complained to me that there is an Integrated Science teacher, Mr O- who has been harrassing her and some other students.

“I asked her if the man had touched her and she said no, he only tells them that they are looking beautiful and he wants to marry them. I dismissed her complaints as typical compliments from a teacher.

“However, two weeks later, on Thursday, she called me late at night and she was crying bitterly. I could barely hear what she was saying until after I had calmed her down.

“Me myself I was scared, wondering what had happened. She told me then that this same Mr O-, who by the way, lives in the boarding house area, had cornered her on her way back from easing herself just before lights out.

“She told me that he called her and she thought he wanted to punish her for leaving her dorm room when it was almost lights out.

“But when she got closer to him, he was smelling of alcohol and she ran away from him. But he ran after her and grabbed her and tried to kiss her while touching her private parts”, the mother said in a letter to the blog.