Enugu govt reacts to alleged ESUT students deaths

*Says incidents not due to management negligence

* Varsity seeks pastor’s intervention 

The Enugu State Government has reacted to the death of some students of the Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT), Agbani.

Over the past two weeks, no fewer than five students of the institution have been reported dead under various circumstances, a development that prompted the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) to blame the school management for failing to provide adequate medical facilities for the students.

The students body also threatened to mobilise the students to shutdown the university.

But, reacting to the incidents, the state government and the university described the report of the alleged negligence of the institution as fake and fabricated.

According to the dean, Student Affairs, ESUT, Prof. Jude Udenta, contrary to the claims in the public statements by NANS that the students died in the university environment, only one of them is an on campus student and died outside the premises of the institution.

He added that while some of the deceased students died of generator fumes, “about the remaining two cases , still under investigation, they were said to have died of certain undisclosed ailments which they tried to tackle, in town, through self- medication. 

“The last student that reportedly died over the last weekend, died as a result of a road mishap , in a yet to be confirmed location. He was a piper and instrumentalist and died while returning from his chores. It is noteworthy that this latest case was the only one among the deceased that was an On – Campus student, the rest were Off – Campus.”

The university management however stated that, “in view of our cosmology, whereby, we believe strongly, in the influence or effect of the spiritual upon the material, we have reached out to pastors asking for forgiveness and for divine intervention in regard to an end to such tragedies.”

Speaking when he led a team of government officials to the university, the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Prof. Chidiebere Onyia, said the government was genuinely concerned about the welfare of students, hence the decision to go beyond the report of the Commissioner for Health, Prof. Emmanuel Obi, who was earlier directed to do a sting investigation of the institution and its medical facility, to additionally visit the institution for a firsthand assessment of the situation.

“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”.

On his part, the commissioner for health, Prof Emmanuel Obi, described the rumour of students’ death inside the university campus as one of unverified reports on the social media, stressing that people, who had no experience on health, rushed to the social media to push the falsehood.

Prof. Obi further revealed that his infodemic team at the Ministry of Health swung into a sting investigative operation immediately what turned out to be fake news of death of students broke.

“We have the state epidemiology unit, a department of public health that looks into such stories. The state has an extensive disease surveillance network in all the local governments. The moment the information came, we started by sending the disease surveillance and notification officer in Nkanu West Local Government of which Agbani is one. 

“The officer has investigated and reported to the Ministry, and the Ministry has also done its own preliminary investigation. For this time, the report is that we still have independent unrelated cases of deaths that have included students of ESUT as a university,” the commissioner added.

He appealed to members of the public to eschew fake news and equally desist from claiming expertise in areas they lacked knowledge.

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