Following the death of three students of Queen’s College few Months ago, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked the United Nations (UN) to compel the federal government to investigate into the issue.
The students who reportedly died of a ‘gastroenteritis epidemic’ in the school, reports have revealed that it was due to corruption and gross negligence.
According to Daily Post, SERAP has urged the UN to compel the federal government to look into the matter in order to not have a repeat of such again and to use the experience as an example for other schools in the country to learn.
The petition signed by Timothy Adewale, SERAP deputy director, read in part:
“The apparent failure to exercise due diligence and to fulfil the obligations to respect, protect, promote and fulfill the right of these girls to quality education is buttressed by the fact that the school management repeatedly ignored early warnings and complaints from students and parents, the failure to improve facilities and conditions in the school, and the alleged demand of illegal fees and bribes from parents by the school authorities.
“SERAP is concerned about the failure of the leadership of the Federal Ministry of Education to diligently, effectively and efficiently exercise its regulatory and oversight functions over Queen’s College and other unity schools across the country. Corruption seems a commonplace across different levels at Queen’s College.
“The absence of accountability mechanisms within the Federal Ministry of Education is further illustrated by the failure to sanction the leadership of Queen’s College for apparently failing to prevent unnecessary loss of lives and to protect the girls’ right to education in a safe and protected environment.
“Many of the girls have suffered devastating consequences of corruption, neglect and incompetence, leading to a disregard for their human rights. Yet, those suspected to be responsible for these serious human rights violations have continued to escape justice, thus benefiting from impunity.
“SERAP believes that preventing and punishing the alleged corruption, mismanagement and failure of the Federal Ministry of Education and the school authorities to exercise due diligence to prevent the unnecessary loss of lives would help to remedy the situation, and to re-establish trust in the legitimacy and integrity of Queen’s College and other public schools.
“According to our information, three students of Queen’s College, Lagos–Vivian Osuinyi, Bithia Itulua and Praise Sodipo–died between February and March 2017 primarily due to systemic corruption and the failure of the authorities including the Federal Ministry of Education, and the leadership of the school to exercise due diligence to ensure the right to life of the students including by ensuring access to safe drinking water and sanitation.
“The Cable Investigative Team found that school management ignored parents’ and old students’ early warnings on contaminated water and foods. No one has yet to be held to account for these alleged serious violations of human rights. According to the Investigative Team, the three girls died as a result of consumption of contaminated water and foods in the school. Many students also became seriously ill between January and March 2016, with several reporting different forms of infections. Many girls manifested signs of skin, vaginal and abdominal infections, and were stooling and vomiting.”
The rapporteurs petitioned are: Ms. Koumbou Boly Barry, Special Rapporteur on the right to education; Mr Leo Heller, Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation; Ms. Hilal Elver, Special Rapporteur on the right to food; and Professor Philip Alston, Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights.
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