TheLagos State Ministry of Health has shut down Queens College, Yaba, Lagos, till further notice, in regards to the number of students who have
been sick, two of whom have died, due to the
contaminated water sources in the school
which contain various forms of E-Coli, and
Salmonella, among other dangerous pathogens.
Below is the Public Statement by the President General, Unity Schools students association, CHIDI ANSELM ODINKALU, concerning the incident:
The situation at Queens College (QC), Yaba,
Lagos is now a public health emergency and
addressing this urgently must preoccupy the
attention of the school, public health authorities
and the school community.
Pending independent certification of the school as safe for human activity, it should remain closed.
Temporary, alternative arrangements should be
made for preparation of students about to take
their West African School Certificate (WASC)
examinations. USOSA supports the advisory of
the Lagos State Ministry of Health to postpone
the planned re-opening of the school and is
gratified that the new Management of QC has
heeded this advice.
Investigations ordered by public health
authorities at federal and state levels have
disclosed a mortifying state of affairs at QC.
Since the beginning of January 2017, over 1,222
QC students have been treated at the school’s
clinic for abdominal pain, fever, vomiting and
diarrhoea. 16 students were admitted in various
hospitals in the country, mostly in and around
Lagos. Of this number, nine have reportedly
been discharged; two have died, one is still in
critical condition at the Lagos State University
Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), having recently
come out of coma. In the past 36 hours,
another has been admitted into hospital.
Independent laboratory analyses have shown
that the water sources in the school are
contaminated by different forms of E-Coli and
Salmonella, among other dangerous pathogens.
23 of 40 kitchen workers and food handlers
have tested positive for Amoebiasis; another
three reported positive for Salmonella and at
least one is positive for Tape-Worm.
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. Hyper-
chlorination, the envisaged short term solution,
cannot and does not provide water that is fit for
use. An extensive de-contamination effort is
Despite clear evidence of a crisis, the
Management of the school at the time failed to
take appropriate steps to safeguard the children
or call in assistance. Instead, they appeared
bent on concealing the facts and denying
reality. When parents cried out, the then
Principal appeared around 23 February to blame
the situation on “enemies of the school”,
denying that “there is no epidemic, epidemic is
when three-quarters of the population has died”.
Around the same day, a Vice-Principal
reportedly complained: “we are looking after
2,800 students and we are being crucified
because two die”. From various levels of the
Management of QC then, there was clear
evidence of reckless disregard for the young
lives in their care or worse.
USOSA mourns and condoles with the bereaved
families. No parent should have to reclaim the
body of a child sent to school in a body bag. We
are hopeful that the children currently
hospitalised will make full recovery. We offer
our support to the present Management in
returning QC to its historic place in Nigeria and
commend the deep and determined sense of
responsibility so far shown by the Queens
College Old Girls Association (QCOGA) during
The case for declaring a public health
emergency in QC is very clear. Federal and
State public health authorities should do so
urgently and work together with the school
authorities on an acceptable remedial plan,
whose implementation should be independently
verified. USOSA offers its networks to mobilise
complementary support for this. Pending the
implementation of such a plan, re-opening
should be deferred.
Consideration should be given also to suspending boarding facilities for the time being until an acceptable long term solution is found to the cause of this crisis.
The duty of looking after children in a learning
environment is a sacred trust. This public health
crisis at QC calls attention to the responsibility
of everyone, especially school managements
and education administrators, to uphold this
trust at all times.
As a result of clear failures in this case, young lives have been lost; many more have been endangered. In addition to the remedial measures needed to address the on-going public health emergency, therefore, we
believe that the gravity of the facts revealed
warrant urgent and committed criminal
investigations. Any persons found complicit or
criminally negligent in bringing about this
situation should be prosecuted and brought to
account. This is the only way to ensure that
this sad and tragic situation does not happen
Chidi Anselm Odinkalu, Ph.D (London-LSE)