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More Queen’s College pupils take ill…• Parents call for prosecution of ex-principal

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on a daily basis, a pupil of Queen’s College, Yaba, is admitted in one general hospital or another in Lagos State, we learnt.

A parent, whose child had been admitted at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi Araba, for about a week, told our correspondent that no fewer than 15 pupils of the school were receiving treatment in LUTH.

 

The parent and other parents with children in the school called on the Federal Government to recall a former principal of the school, Dr Lami Amodu, to face criminal charges for negligence and the death of two pupils of the school.

 

Our correspondent had reported that many pupils of the school had diarrhoea after eating spaghetti and water, said to have been contaminated.

 

A teacher in the school had disclosed to our correspondent that one-fourth of the school population was infected with diarrhoea and were initially admitted at the school’s sickbay.

 

Two pupils of the school–Vivian Osuiniyi and Bithia Itulua – were reported to have died after being taken away for proper treatments at home.

 

The Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Dr Jide Idris, had released a statement, saying health records from the school’s sickbay indicated that the illness started on January 16, 2017, adding that a total of 1,222 pupils presented themselves at the school’s clinic on account of abdominal pain, fever, vomiting and diarrhoea.

 

Idris had advised an indefinite suspension of academic activities in the school.

 

The Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, was reported to have asked the school’s new principal, Mrs. Bola Are, to cease plans for the resumption of the school.

 

PUNCH Metro, however, learnt that the school’s Junior Secondary School three pupils and Senior Secondary School three pupils had been going to the school as day students because of their certificate exams.

 

A parent, who spoke with our correspondent on the telephone from LUTH on Thurday, said the decision was wrong, adding that some parents had been bringing their children from the school in their uniforms to LUTH.

She said, “My daughter did not show any symptom until about two weeks ago. We took her to a private clinic in our area, where she stayed for five days without any improvement.

 

“Then, we took her to a standard hospital where some consultants battled with the infection. After I had spent about N150,000, I was advised to take her to LUTH.

 

“In LUTH, I saw a lot of Queen’s College parents with their children. We were about 15 in number. Just yesterday, they brought a girl in school uniform. She was brought by her parents directly from the school. Unfortunately, while some of our children are struggling to survive, the school is trying to manage its reputation by lying that all is well.

 

“They are bringing pupils on a daily basis. The school authority and the Federal Ministry of Education are paying lip service to this unfolding incident.”

 

He said on the average, each admitted pupil spent two weeks in the hospital.

 

On Friday, the parent sent a message to our correspondent that another child had been brought in her school uniform to LUTH.

 

PUNCH Metro learnt that the Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, had instructed all federal hospitals to treat pupils of the school free of charge.

 

A parent said one of the doctors attending to the children cautioned that pupils who had yet to show any sign of infection were more at risk.

 

He said, “We were told that the more the bacterial stays dormant in the body of the girls, the more dangerous it would be. There is a need for the school management to sensitise all the parents whose children have not fallen ill to take urgent action. It is dangerous for pupils to still be using that environment because the infection has not been isolated.”

 

A parent said many of the parents were of the opinion that the former principal of the school must be recalled and made to answer for the incident.

 

He said, “She was just transferred, which is wrong. She should be made to answer to what happened. She should be prosecuted for criminal negligence or manslaughter. The same principal bought a Ford Explorer Jeep.  The Jeep is on the school’s premises. This principal denied that anything happened, and the question is why? Somebody must pay for this.”

 

The Public Relations Officer of LUTH, Mr. Kelechi Otuneme, said he could not confirm the number of Queen’s College pupils in the hospital.

 

He said, “I don’t have that case before me right now, so I cannot tell the frequency at which they bring in pupils and the number of those in the hospital. I will get back to you tomorrow (Monday).”

 

The President of the Old Students Association, Dr Frances Ajose, confirmed the development, adding that she was informed each time a new pupil took ill.

 

She said, “Of course I am aware. I am notified each time they (the pupils) are going to hospitals.”

 

Ajose, however, directed our correspondent to the state Commissioner for Health, Idris, saying he was the only one authorised to comment on the outbreak.

 

A top official of Queen’s College, who begged not to be identified, said she had spoken with LUTH director and was informed many of the pupils had been discharged.

 

“I was told only five pupils are on admission. We are monitoring the situation. I have been praying for the pupils to return to school. The past principal really messed things up and I believe all other schools must have learnt from her mistake,” she added.

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NASRE Advises FG On Food Crisis, Forex Shortage Amid Calls To Suspend Import Ban

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As Nigeria finds itself at a critical crossroads, grappling with simultaneous challenges of a food crisis and a foreign exchange (forex) shortage.

 

This is even as the nation seeks solutions to mitigate these pressing issues, the debate over whether to open its borders for importation has intensified.

 

The food crisis gripping Nigeria has raised concerns about food security and access to essential nutrition for millions of citizens.

 

Adverse weather conditions, supply chain disruptions, and other factors have contributed to dwindling food supplies and soaring prices, placing a significant strain on households and exacerbating the vulnerability of already marginalized communities.

 

Meanwhile, the forex shortage has hampered Nigeria’s ability to import essential goods and raw materials, further exacerbating supply chain disruptions and exacerbating inflationary pressures.

 

Industries reliant on imported inputs, including agriculture, manufacturing, and healthcare, have been particularly hard hit, impeding economic growth and development.

 

In response to these challenges, some stakeholders advocate for opening Nigeria’s borders to facilitate the importation of food and other essential commodities.

 

Proponents argue that increased importation could help alleviate immediate food shortages, stabilize prices, and provide relief to vulnerable populations facing hunger and malnutrition.

 

However, others caution against the potential risks of opening borders amid a forex shortage. Critics raise concerns about the impact on domestic production and self-sufficiency, as well as the long-term consequences of relying heavily on imported goods. They emphasize the need to prioritize investments in domestic agriculture and infrastructure to build resilience against future crises.

 

As Nigeria navigates these complex issues, the government faces the daunting task of balancing short-term relief efforts with long-term strategies for sustainable development and economic resilience.

 

Proffering suggestion on how the government can address the unending inflationary pressures, Forex shortages, food prices hike and revitalise the nation’s economy, the Nigerian Association of Social and Resourceful Editors (NASRE), has advised the Nigerian government to adopt collaborative efforts involving policymakers, industry stakeholders, civil society organizations, and international partners to identify holistic solutions that address both immediate needs and underlying structural challenges.

 

On the debate over whether Nigeria should open its borders for importation amid the food crisis and forex shortage, the President of the advocacy group, Mr Femi Oyewale, underscores the urgency of coordinated action and innovative thinking.

 

According to him, now more than ever, solidarity, cooperation, and forward-thinking policies are needed to ensure the well-being and prosperity of all Nigerians.

 

“The question of whether Nigerian borders should be opened for food importation in the face of a food crisis is complex and multifaceted. However, there are factors to consider, which basically, Domestic Agricultural Capacity. Because opening borders for food importation could undermine domestic agricultural production by flooding the market with cheaper imported goods.

 

“However, if domestic production is insufficient to meet demand, importing food may be necessary to avoid shortages,” he said.

 

On the economic implications of borders opening, the President of NASRE, Oyewale, said: “Importing food can have economic ramifications, both positive and negative. On one hand, it can provide access to a wider variety of foods and potentially lower prices for consumers. On the other hand, it may negatively impact local farmers and exacerbate trade imbalances.”

 

The resourceful editors, while commenting on Food Security, pointed out that relying heavily on imported food leaves a country vulnerable to supply chain disruptions and price fluctuations in the global market. Therefore, it urged the federal government to develop a robust domestic agricultural sector, which is crucial for long-term food security.

 

According to Oyewale, the Nigerian government must consider its broader economic and agricultural policies when making decisions about food importation. This includes evaluating subsidies, tariffs, and investment in agricultural infrastructure.

 

“Importing food often involves long-distance transportation, which contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and environmental degradation. Promoting local production can help reduce the carbon footprint associated with food consumption.

 

“Food is not just a commodity; it is essential for human well-being. Government policies should prioritize ensuring access to nutritious and culturally appropriate food for all citizens, particularly those most vulnerable to food insecurity,” he added.

 

The Nigerian Association of Social and Resourceful Editors, NASRE, therefore, noted that the decision to open Nigerian borders for food importation during a food crisis should be approached cautiously, taking into account the country’s domestic agricultural capacity, economic implications, food security goals, environmental concerns, and social welfare considerations.

 

“A balanced approach that supports both domestic production and responsible trade practices may be necessary to address immediate food shortages while also promoting long-term food security and sustainability,” the Association stated.

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Lagos State Government to prosecute 11 suspects for extortion

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The Lagos State Government said 11 suspects arrested at the Ibeju-Lekki junction and Akodo area of the state will be prosecuted to serve as deterrents to others extorting residents and motorists in the state.

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transportation, Olawale Musa, disclosed this while addressing journalists on Wednesday.

He added that the suspects parade themselves as enforcement officers to extort unsuspecting motorists and residents in the state.

Musa said, “Lagos State Government has declared zero tolerance for extortion of unsuspecting residents, especially motorists, by miscreants parading themselves as enforcement officers at the Ibeju-Lekki junction and Akodo area of the state.

“We have announced severally that nobody is allowed to collect money for the local government on the street of Lagos, and the government has set up a team to ensure that anybody that does that is picked up and from that Lekki axis.

“They will be charged to court to explain themselves, and I want to sound a note of warning to others that do the same thing that we will not relent; the government is all out for them.”

He noted that it is unlawful for any local government area within the state to place personnel to conduct such operations on the highways.

“If you have any issues, you call us, and we will come and address them, but when you have people coming on the road on the guise that you want to have revenue at this hard time, collecting money from motorists on the road is not fair, and it is illegal in Lagos State to resist it.

“It is illegal for any local government area in the state to deploy people on the roads as it negates the Lagos State Road Traffic Law, Section 18, 2018, which empowers only the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority to carry out such operations on the roads,” he added.

In March 2023, The PUNCH reported that the Lagos State Government arrested four suspected hoodlums in some parts of the state over extortion.

The suspects were arrested in the Amuwo-Odofin area of the state while attempting to extort motorists.

 

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N10bn fraud: EFCC to arraign Abdulfattah Ahmed, ex-Kwara Governor Friday

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission will arraign the immediate-past governor of Kwara State, Abdulfattah Ahmed, for alleged N10bn fraud on Friday, The PUNCH has learnt.

Credible sources in the anti-graft agency said the ex-governor would be dragged before the Federal High Court in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital.

“He is going to be arraigned on Friday at the Federal High Court in Ilorin for diversion of funds, amounting to N10bn,” the source told our correspondent.

The ex-governor has been detained by the EFCC since Monday when he honoured an invitation for interrogation.

His Chief Press Secretary, Alhaji AbdulWahab Oba, confirmed his principal’s visit to the EFCC office on Monday, stating that it was only “procedural and routine”.

“Dr Ahmed’s visit to the EFCC is procedural and routine. He was invited and he honoured them as he’s always done. He’s always ready to respond to any query or question regarding his tenure as a governor of the state.”

On Tuesday night, Oba lamented that the EFCC was still holding on to Ahmed, saying he was given stringent bail conditions.

“Yes, he is still with the EFCC and we are now in a dilemma over the issue because they keep changing the goalpost during the match. The case is taking a new dimension, which we don’t really understand for now.

“Initially they said they wanted him to produce two sureties who are federal directors. The sureties came and were asked to provide landed properties in Abuja. We see this as a contradiction. The case was initially handled by the EFCC office in Abuja before it was transferred to Ilorin over the issue of jurisdiction. Additionally, he has been denied access to his doctors, medication and direct access to his cook,” Oba said.

Meanwhile, members of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party in Kwara State on Wednesday staged a peaceful protest to the EFCC zonal office in Ilorin, where Ahmed was being detained.

The protesters, who carried placards with various inscriptions, expressed displeasure over Ahmed’s detention.

Led by the state Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Olusegun Adewara, the party members alleged that the All Progressives Congress in the state was behind Ahmed’s troubles.

Some of the inscriptions on their placards read: “EFCC should stop being a tool in the hands of Abdulrazaq led-APC”, “Governor Ahmed was very transparent”, “EFCC is not a department in the APC, EFCC, stop the harassment”, “The opposition cannot be silenced”, “Maigida will not join the APC no matter the persecution”, “EFCC, don’t instigate political crisis in Kwara State”, “No to illegal detention. Respect the rule of law”, among others.

But addressing the protesters, the zonal commander of the EFCC, Michael Nzekwe, said Ahmed had been given an administration bail but he could not meet the conditions.

“We’re wrapping up. Once we wrap up, the law will take its course. The anti-graft agency, being a creation of law, would not go contrary to law.

“Everything we’ve done is within the ambit of the law. The former governor is cooperating with us and we’re making good progress following rules of law. As I speak, he’s with his lawyer, a SAN; he attends to everyone who comes to see him, and he has a doctor who has attended to him. He eats what he wants to eat. I urge us to allow the law take its course. We’re not partisan nor prompted by anybody. This body is solely sponsored by the Federal Government,” Nzekwe said.

 

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