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Ibadan school tragedy: Proprietor’s whereabouts unknown

Posted by By AKEEB ALARAPE, Ibadan on 2008/03/30 | Views: 636 |

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Ibadan school tragedy: Proprietor’s whereabouts unknown

The proprietor of Living Water Nursery and Primary School, Mr. Emmanuel Olatunji, may have gone into hiding after the tragic incident that befell his institution on Tuesday.

• Only 2 pupils died – Police

The proprietor of Living Water Nursery and Primary School, Mr. Emmanuel Olatunji, may have gone into hiding after the tragic incident that befell his institution on Tuesday.

Two pupils of the school were killed when an adjoining fence collapsed on the makeshift shed used as school building. About 21 pupils and staff of the school were injured in the incident, including the proprietor, his wife and two other staff.

Although police earlier claimed on Tuesday that 13 pupils died as a result of the incident, the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Miss Olabisi Okuwobi, on Wednesday retracted the statement, claiming that it was misinformed about the casualty figure.

In a press release signed by Okuwobi on Wednesday, the police command apologized to members of the public for the misinformation, saying only two pupils died in the tragic incident and not 13 as earlier stated.

It said: "The Oyo State police command accepts responsibility for the earlier error, which was not deliberate. After a preliminary investigation, it was reliably gathered that one pupil died at the scene of the collapsed wall while another one died at the early hours of today while receiving medical treatment.
"The error in the number of the dead pupils is highly regretted. We pray God to comfort the parents of the two dead pupils and for quick recovery of the injured

The site of the ill-fated school became Mecca of a sort on Wednesday as sympathizers from far and near, mostly housewives and jobless youths, trooped to the scene to feed their eyes.
Two hospitals and a traditional orthopeadic home, where survivors of the accident were admitted, also became tourist centres for the sympathizers.

The state Deputy Governor, Hon. Taofeek Arapaja, accompanied by the Commissioner for Education, Prof Nureni Olawore, Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Mr. Olufemi Akanmu and officials of the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) also made on-the-spot assessment of the scene.
The state government officials also visited Alaafia Hospital and St. Mary’s Catholic Hospital, Eleta, where some of the injured pupils were being treated.

The deputy governor pledged that the government would foot the hospital bills of the injured pupils, while calling on the citizens to assist the government in reporting mushroom schools to the authorities for appropriate action.

When Daily Sun visited the site of the school on Wednesday, the atmosphere was still tense as wailing and crying pervaded the vicinity.

At St. Mary’s Catholic Hospital, Eleta, the Matron in charge of the hospital, Sister Angela Anigbogu, told newsmen that three of the pupils were still on admission, while one had been referred to the University College Hospital (UCH) due to multiple fractures. The three pupils on admission were Ewaoluwa Hussain (three and half years), Limota Razaq, (three years) and Olawuyi Tohib (seven years) old.

Residents of the area, who had relationship with the proprietor bemoaned the tragedy, saying he and his wife laboured hard to establish the school and get it going.
"He is a gentle and easy-going man. We all know him as ‘Pastor Living Water’. He hardly looks people in the face unless you greet him," one of the sympathizers said.

A brother to the proprietor, Mr. Taiwo Olatunji, whose four years old daughter, Bolaji, also sustained a fractured leg in the incident, told Daily Sun that he was yet to know the whereabouts of his brother since the incident happened.
"It is not true that he had spinal cord injury. He came to my house after the incident. I was not in but my neighbours who saw him said he was soaked in blood arising from the injury he sustained on the head. But since then, nobody has heard about his whereabouts and his wife too."

Daily Sun learnt from hospital sources at Eleta on Wednesday that the proprietor’s wife fainted three times before she could be stabilized by medical officials.

A teacher in the school, Mrs. Mayowa Olowu, 31, whose right leg was broken and presently being treated at Arogun Orthopaedic Traditional Hospital, also narrated to Daily Sun how the incident happened.
According to her, the proprietor had ordered the four members of staff in the school to evacuate the students out of the makeshift shed because of a repair work being carried out in the adjoining compound.

"After some period and around one ‘o clock when the repair had been concluded, the proprietor asked us to go back again. It was not up to 12 minutes that we went back into the ‘school’ that we heard ‘gboa’ from the fence. Those of us who are adults sped off, leaving the pupils behind.
"But the fence caught up with me at the leg. I found myself unable to move again.

By now, none of us know the whereabouts of the proprietor and his wife. Some rescuers brought me to this place. None of us had the premonition of the tragedy nor did the fence show any sign that it would soon give way. It gave way because of the renovation work going on in the adjoining compound."

The landlord of the adjoining building, Mr. Monsuru Odumosu, a.k.a Ami Prints, absolved himself of blame in the tragedy, as he said that he had, three months ago, warned the proprietor to pack out of the site in view of the renovation exercise he was embarking upon.

Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Samuel Odulana Odugade 1, described the death of the school children as touching and sad while condoling with the parents of the dead pupils.

The royal father, who sent three of his princes to the site of the accident, stated in a press release by his Chief Press Secretary, Prince Oyedokun Oloyede that the situation where lives of innocent children were wantonly destroyed is unfortunate and indefensible under any pretext.

"As a school proprietor himself, he could sense how touching the tragic incident would have been to all concerned. The Olubadan described children as the nation’s glory and the foundation on which its future could be built.

"Oba Odugade then called on educational, town planning and health authorities to ensure, henceforth, that premises and surroundings of educational institutions are certified fit for human occupation and conducive to learning before approving their opening for operation and even continued existence," the press statement added.

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