By CHARLES UGOCHUKWU CHARLES
An assemblage of six non-governmental and civil society organisations, the Coalition of Civil Societies on Human Rights and Anti-Corruption in Nigeria has written to the Senate Committee on Basic and Secondary Education probing the recent deaths at one of the Federal Government’s Unity School, Queens College Lagos.
The group, in a letter address to the chairman of the committee and jointly signed by its Chief Convener, Alhaji Sabo Ode and the Director of Public Affairs, Comrade James Ezema, urged the Senate “to ensure that justice is done and that the innocent is not punished for doing that which is right and insisting that the right thing be done in the right way.”
The former Director/Principal of the College, Dr (Mrs) Lami Amodu, has been accused of culpability in the death of some of the students.
The groups that constitute the coalition include Professional Women League, Africa Women Network, Centre for Social Justice Equity and Transparency, Save Humanity Advocacy Centre, Stand Up Nigeria, and Conference of Minority Tribes in Nigeria.
According to the Coalition that is primarily committed to ensuring justice and peaceful coexistence among the various people that make up the Nigerian society with a view to making the society better for development and engender speedy national growth, “over time, as we found out, a cartel has been operating within the Queens College Old Girls Association of the school, who always dictated to the management and found for the first time a woman who stood against them.”
Spelling out it findings, after an independent investigation carried out by the Coalition, the group said: “Mr Chairman and members, we found out that within her 18 months stay on the saddle in the college, Dr Lami Amodu did all things within her power and within the ambit of bureaucracy to effect long lasting changes that were geared towards improving facilities on ground.
“The shocker, for us, was that the incident of stooling and subsequent casualties did not occur in the college until after a meeting held on January 22, 2017, by the Queens College Old Girls Association.
“Our findings showed that while the meeting held in the college hall, some old girls found their way into the hostels and the kitchen areas without authorisation of proper permission.
“A week later, specifically on January 31, 2017, some students were reported to have started stooling and vomiting but luckily the college and health officials promptly managed and contained the menace.
“All of these points to the fact that Dr Lami Amodu understood both the challenges at hand when she assumed office and made efforts to ensure they were addressed”, the group observed.
According to them, “One other striking finding was that fact that Dr Amodu was seen as “very strict”, “very hash” and “rude” by certain persons.
“On attempt to find out why, we discovered that it was her uncompromising recourse to due process and her resolve that the right thing must be done the right way were the virtues that earned her those tags.
“We believe that the old girls and other collaborators, who have resorted to frivolous petition writing, may have played a role, resulting to the stooling and vomiting incident in the college and the subsequent deaths.
“More so, some of the deaths occurred after the former Principal had been transferred.
“For instance, the death of Sodipo Praise, an Orphan who died on March 30, 2017 occurred nearly two months after Dr Amodu had been transferred.
“Our findings equally showed that the young Praise reported to the clinic on 20th February 20, after Dr Amodu had left the school, with feverish condition and was placed on anti-malaria drugs, with follow up treatment until the college went on midterm break.
“From home, Miss Praise was referred to the Lagos State University Hospital after her ailment continued at home”, the group revealed.
“We gathered that she was diagnosed of liver enlargement and perforation of intestine and later died after surgery, even when she was never treated for stooling and vomiting previously at the college.
“Mr Chairman and members, there is more to the issues being raised and allegations being levelled against Dr Amodu. For instance, she was recently accused in a petition of buying an SUV for 17 million, an allegation we have also investigated and found to be false.
“The SUV, which was not for personal use was left in the school after her redeployment. Its purchase, we also found, went through due process and had board approval after the board decided it was very necessary because of the state of the old bus the school had, which was in a very bad condition.
“From our investigations we also found out facts on the allegation of 17 million naira on SUV, which is also not true as the findings of the investigation have proved contrary in which the purchase of the SUV went through due process and had board approval after the board decided it was very necessary because of the state of the old bus the school had which was in a bad condition and the Sport Utility Vehicle is still used at Queens College Lagos by the principal till date and not a private property of Dr. Mrs Lami Amodu”, the group noted.