What we know about deaths of ESUT students

By Arinze Chijioke

THE management of the Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT) is being accused of negligence and an attempt to cover up the details that led to the death of several students with some putting the numbers between 9 and 13, however, the school confirmed only five deaths.

The deaths which releavnat stakeholders have described as tragic has caused anxiety among students and staff of the university. A student who spoke to the reporter said that he has personally heard stories within the university of at least nine students who have died as a result of the outbreak of the disease.

School administration accused of negligence

In reaction to the the National Association of Nigerian tudents (NANS), Zone F, South East, said It also it would not stand idly while the lives and welfare of students were endangered.

In a statement, NANS said that its investigations have shown a high level of negligence on the part of the school administration, ranging from non-functional medical centre which it says is a major factor for the “unfortunate death of students”.

The student (earlier mentioned) who spoke to this reporter also said that the situation could have been worsened by the lack of a functional medical centre in the institution where students cannot go and have their health properly examined and medication administered.

He said that at times of emergencies, students either have to run to Enugu town or resign to fate because the centre opens at 8am and closes at 6pm, with the workers showing poor attitude to work.

“They workers are always complaining about how they are not being paid, hence their lacklustre attitude to work”, he said. “The centre also lacks medication and this has been the situation over the years”.

Call for university closure

The nation student body -NANS zone F- called for the immediate closure of the university.

“In the light of these disturbing findings, the leadership of NANS Zone F has decided to order the immediate shutdown of the institution from tomorrow being 24th of August 2023, till further notice,” the statement read. “This action is necessary to allow us to engage in extensive meetings with relevant stakeholders including the university management, medical experts, security agencies, and student representatives”.

The association warned that failure to shut down the institution with immediate effect, will compel it to escalate actions as its leadership is committed to protecting the rights and welfare of Nigerian students.

“We will not stand idly while the lives and welfare of our students are endangered, as we seek a quick intervention to this crisis, we urge all our students in ESUT to return to their respective homes where they will be safe till further notice.”

ESUT’s SUG disclaimer

The president of ESUT’s Students Union Government (SUG) Donatus Okolieuwa described NANS reaction cashing on the situation to score political goals.

“It’s quite despicable and an aberration for somone to cash into such incident without proper finding, just to score politcal goal”, he said in the statement issued.

He also queried the intention of NANS, asking if the objective is to cause panic.

Okolieuwa urged students to disregard the call for a shutdown and “go about their normal academic activities in the school as the SUG leaders are already taking drastic measures on this matter.”

School management reacts

While sources say the casualties is between 9 to13 the school management puts the figure at five while noting that only one of the five was an on-campus student.

In a statement on Wednesday, August 23, the dean, student affairs of the university, a professor Jude Udenta said that the five include two students who died in their lodge and another two cases who were said to have died of certain “undisclosed ailments which they tried to tackle, in town, through self- medication” and one through a road mishap – this is the on-campus student.

“The cases are still under investigation but immediately we got the information, we held meetings with our security committee on these matters” Udenta said, referring to the students who died in their lodge. “We asked them to sensitise all Off-Campus students about the use of generators and such other possible risk factors”.

In the statement, Udenta also said that the school administration has also reached out to pastors asking for forgiveness and for divine intervention in regard to an end to such tragedies.

The dean said that rather than declare a shut down-which is of questionable integrity and, accordingly, null and void, NANS zone F should have pursued an appropriate synergy based on consultation and consolation.

When contacted, public relations officer of the University, Ikechukwu Ezeanioma said that the stories of deaths are unfounded. He said that the state governor, Peter Mbah, sent a team led by the Secretary to the State Government which visited to inspect facilities at the school’s medical centre together with the vice-chancellor and other stakeholders.

    “We have not recorded any death of any student at the medical centre and there has not been any outbreak of disease, those stories were simply made up by people with ulterior motives. The government is investigating the reports to find out where they are coming from”.

    State government embarks on fact-finding mission

    The secretary to the state government (SSG), a professor Chidiebere Onyia, during the visit to the university said the commissioner for health has been directed to investigate the school’s medical facility.

    He said, “The governor is concerned and has asked that we come here for a preliminary fact-finding mission concerning what we have read on the social media, and a few of them was also communicated to us directly as it regards the concerns they have about the medical facilities.

    “He has asked us to find out what is going on with the state of the facilities and the veracity of a few comments made on social media through the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS). So, we have decided as a government, to visit to make sure that we are open to getting information from students, and from the citizens generally.


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