The United Nations have been petitioned by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) requesting an investigation into the deaths of three Queen’s College students.
The students had died due to a gastroenteritis epidemic which broke out in the school earlier this year claiming the life of the teenagers.
The petition questions the living conditions of the students that led to such serious contamination of their water and asked that the authorities ensure that corruption within Unity schools be checked in order to avoid a repeat of this incident.
“These girls have depended on the integrity of the authorities both at the Federal Ministry of Education and the school levels but have been badly let down by those entrusted with the power to provide them with access to quality education in a safe environment,” 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 fulfil 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.