A delegation of Enugu State Government officials paid a visit to the University of Science and Technology (ESUT) within the state on Friday. The purpose of this visit was in response to a distressing situation where a peculiar illness is said to have claimed the lives of 13 students in less than a month.
The team led by the state Commissioner of Health, Dr Ikechukwu Obi, Friday, visited the Agbani campus of the university to ascertain the circumstances surrounding the alleged development.
The unfortunate incident which has already caused anxiety among students and staff of the university, our correspondent learnt, has been downplayed by the university management.
A member of staff of the university, Rev Godwin Onah, who spoke to our correspondent, described the situation as alarming and called on the government for intervention.
He said, “There are massive mysterious deaths at the Enugu State University of Science and Technology, yet the Enugu State Government and school management are non-challant about it.
“The Enugu State Government or Federal Government should close the school immediately to avert further deaths.”
However, the National Association of Nigerian Students South-East Zone has called for the immediate shutdown of the university till further notice to allow for proper investigation into the cause of the outbreak of the strange illness.
NANS which made the call in a statement issued on Thursday titled: “Call to shut down Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT) immediately,” warned that it would not stand idly by while the lives and welfare of its students are endangered.
In the statement signed by its Zonal Coordinator, Chidi Nzekwe, NANS, stated that the “leadership of the National Association of Nigerian Students NANS Zone F-Southeast expresses our deepest concern and utmost dismay over the frequent and tragic deaths of our students in ESUT.
“Our investigations have shown a high level of negligence on the part of the school administration, ranging from non-functional student clinic, which is a major factor for the unfortunate death of our students.
“In the light of these disturbing findings, the leadership of NANS Zone F has decided to order the immediate shutdown of the institution from tomorrow, August 24, 2023, till further notice.
“This action is necessary to allow us to engage in extensive meetings with relevant stakeholders including the university management, medical experts, security agencies, and student representatives.
“Failure to shut down the institution with immediate effect, we will be compelled to escalate our actions and the university management should get ready to contend with the armless battalion of Nigerian students in the zone.
“The leadership of NANS Zone F is committed to protecting the rights and welfare of Nigerian students. We will not stand idly while the lives and welfare of our students are endangered. As we seek a quick intervention to this crisis, we urge all our students in ESUT to return to their respective homes where they will be safe till further notice.
“May the souls of our dear departed students Rest in peace.”
However, when the Public Relations Officer of the University, Mr Ikechukwu Ezianioma, was contacted by telephone by our correspondent, he described the rumours and reports as fake, insisting that there was no strange Illness in ESUT.
According to him, “The Commissioners of Health, Education and Secretary to the State Government, with a whole lot of other government officials came to the university today and after check, they discovered that the reports circulating were false.
“So, I would advise you to contact the commissioner of health and he will be in a better position to tell you whether there is such or not. All I can tell you now is that there is no strange Illness killing students in ESUT.”
Meanwhile, efforts to speak with the state Commissioner of Health were unsuccessful as he was said to be in a marathon meeting after he left the university campus.
As of the time of filing this report, he had yet to respond to text messages sent to him.