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Nasarawa Palliative Mishap: Rice distribution should have been through students’ departments – Falana

…Blames incident on official negligence

 

Nasarawa State University students would not have died if the school management had channelled distribution of two 7.5 kg bags of rice and N5,000 to each student at the State University at Keffi through students’ various departments.

 

Human rights advocate, Femi Falana stated this in a statement on Sunday while reacting to the incident where two students died in a stampede that occurred in the institution.

The statement reads, “Governor Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa State was reported to have ordered the distribution of two 7.5 kg bags of rice and N5,000 to each student at the State University at Keffi.

“The distribution of the palliative was scheduled to hold at the state university’s convocation square last Friday morning. As the distribution exercise was not well organised, there was a stampede of thousands of students at the venue. The stampede led to tragedy as many students were injured.

“As the university health centre was ill-equipped to treat the injured students, they were rushed to the Federal Medical Centre in Keffi, Nasarawa State.

“As the injured students were not promptly attended to, two female students were pronounced dead while at least 17 others were left with varying degrees of injuries arising from suffocation at the venue of the distribution of rice. Our thoughts and condolences go to the families and friends of the deceased students.

“According to the state government, the tragic incident occurred “when suspected hoodlums and some misguided students forced their way into the school’s convocation ground to cart away the rice kept at the venue meant for distribution as palliatives to students.”

“But the Vice-chancellor of the University, Prof Suleiman Bala decided to blame the tragedy on the victims of the official negligence. He was reported to have said that “our students were not patient enough to follow the process of accessing these palliatives.”

Reacting to the development, Falana described the death of the students as unfortunate, noting that the authorities of the University failed to draw any lesson from the recent stampede which claimed the lives of seven persons during the distribution of 25kg bags of rice in Lagos by the Nigeria Customs Service.

Falana, the Chair, Alliance on Surviving Covid 19 and Beyond (ASCAB), stated, “No doubt, the tragedy would have been averted if the University management had distributed the 7 kg bags of rice to the students through their departments.

“Indeed, there was no justification to have assembled thousands of students without a standby ambulance.

“As if that was not enough, the university health centre was not equipped to attend to the injured students. Hence, they were rushed to the Federal Medical Centre in Keffi where two female students were certified dead.”

Falana, however, said, having regard to the facts and circumstances of the tragic incident, the Nasarawa State police command should be directed to investigate the allegations of criminal negligence which led to the unfortunate death of the two students.

He said, “The culprits should be prosecuted without delay. In view of the official statement that hoodlums hijacked the distribution exercise the state government and the university management are required by law to compensate the bereaved families of the two students.”

 

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