Mr Akinola Amidu, father of the Junior Secondary School 2 pupil of Simple Faith Schools, Agbara, Lagos State, Oluwatobiloba Emmanuel Amidu, who died on May 16, 2022, after he was allegedly canned by a teacher for not completing his Mathematics assignment, demands justice
What exactly led to your son’s death?
My son was supposed to clock 12 years on May 17, but he died on May 16, a day before. He was in JSS 2. I was given some weeks off after completing a job at Apapa, Lagos, and also losing my elder brother to sickness a few days before. My son, Emmanuel, came back from school and said he was given an assignment. So, I told him to use the WiFi at home. He said he would rest a little and then wake up later to do it. When he woke up to do it, it was discovered that the data bundle on the WiFi had been exhausted. That was on Thursday evening (May 12). He asked if he could use my phone for the assignment, but I told him that since we were using solar, it would not be possible for him to do so at that time because it could go off.
However, his elder sister, Rachael, who is in Senior Secondary School 1 decided to help him with the assignment, so they both went into the room. As they were inside, Emmanuel came out to ask for an exercise book as the one he was using had been exhausted and I promised to buy it for him the next day. The school has a policy that students must buy books from it, so I gave him some money the next morning to buy two notebooks and use the balance for lunch. I have a CCTV camera in my house. These things I am saying can be proven.
What then led to the teacher allegedly canning your child for an assignment he already did?
I had earlier said his notebook got exhausted so he had to write at the back of another note, so that when bought the new note, he would transfer the assignment into it. Out of the six sums, he had done four from home. It was in the process that the teacher came and asked for the assignment and found out that the majority of the students didn’t do the assignment and he was furious. From what I gathered, the previous day when he first taught the Mathematics topic, he only gave them one example on the board, and as he was trying to explain with another, his teaching period got exhausted so he had to leave. He then gave the students the rest of the exercise as an assignment. It seemed a lot of them did not even understand it, so they brought it back to him. This infuriated him so he picked up his cane and flogged them.
According to the teacher, who came to my house after the incident to beg me, my son used to be the first to submit his assignments whenever he was given any. He acknowledged that. But on that day, he didn’t consider this before canning Emmanuel. They said he gave him six strokes of the cane on his left palm. I was not there. The classmates, who spoke to me, said after Emmanuel was flogged, he laid his head on the table and was crying. If you are a good teacher and a parent, are you not supposed to check on him to see if he is okay? The teacher instead asked them to use that period to do the assignment so that he would come back to mark it. Out of fear, because of his small stature, Emmanuel didn’t tell anybody anything. He rather told his seatmate to go and call his sister, Rachael.
What did Rachael do when she came to see him?
From what I was told, when Emmanuel’s seatmate went to call Rachael, the English teacher, who was in class, opted to go with them to see Emmanuel. On seeing him, his head was on the desk and he was having a high temperature. They managed to take him out and poured water on his head. Once they did this, he began to vomit. They kept pouring water on him and asked him to sit down. The elder sister wanted to call me but they told her that they would be the ones to call and inform me.
Did they take him to hospital for treatment?
From what I know, they did not take him to the clinic. Although they claimed that they gave him some medication to stop the vomiting, I found out from one of the persons close to the matter that they did not do so. They only poured water on his head. The teacher, who poured the water on his head, can confirm this because in my presence, he told a respected elder in the area that no medication was given to the boy.
How then was your son taken to the clinic for treatment?
It was a neighbour’s child, who used to ride on the same motorcycle with my children to school, who sneaked into the toilet and called me that Emmanuel had been vomiting and could not talk and walk. They also called the okada rider to come to take him home.
How was your son when you saw him that Thursday?
When the okada rider brought him to me, he could not talk or lift up his hand or legs. In fact, he was unconscious, so we could not ask him what happened. I changed his clothes and called his mom, who was at her shop, to close up and come home as there was an emergency. I don’t believe in self-medication, so I quickly rushed him to hospital. I didn’t even wait for my HMO. I collected a fresh card for him. Even the hospital staff said I should hold on for him to access my HMO, but I told him that it would be a waste time because the state of my son was dire.
What was the diagnosis at the hospital?
They said he was short of blood and that he had some traces of malaria. I paid for the pint of blood he required. They said it would be ready in four hours. I kept on disturbing the lab scientist till the blood was screened and transfused into my son. After the transfusion, my son still could not talk. He could only raise his left hand. His right hand looked like it had been fractured. He must have fallen down but we didn’t get to know anything from him till he gave up the ghost.
Did you have fears since your son was not responding to treatment?
Honestly, I became afraid. I had to inquire from the doctor about what may be responsible and he said it was almost impossible for the boy to still be unconscious even after receiving treatment. He then put a call across to one of his senior colleagues, a professor of medicine, for assistance. I was there as they spoke. The professor told him that it was either someone hit something on Emmanuel’s chest and it is making the blood not to circulate or he was hit on the head. The professor, seeing how my son was lifting his hand, then said he was convinced that the boy must have fallen down.
What did you do next?
The professor said he was at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital. I requested a nurse to accompany me with an ambulance so my son would be well taken care of, but the clinic declined, saying I must pay N80,000, which I eventually transferred to them.
Was there anyone from the school with you at that time?
When I returned from home, where I went to get my card, I saw the principal of the school. He wanted to talk to me but when he saw that I was crying like a child who was beaten, he simply sat back. On getting to LUTH, about five doctors were there to assist me. I must thank LUTH for their swift response. The way they attended to me was out of this world. Before they took my son in, the nurse said it seemed like Emmanuel’s bladder was full. They had to pass a capillary into him so that he could pass out urine. After that, they took him into the ward and began treatment. They put him on oxygen and began to take out the excess blood from his brain through his nose and they were writing some things on paper.
I was there and I saw my son lying lifelessly. My son was active that same morning! I went to the pharmacy to buy the medication they prescribed and I had already deposited over 70 per cent of the money they requested. Along the line, one of the doctors even broke down crying. It was an overwhelming experience for me.
Was your son sick before this time? Did he have any underlying health condition?
If you come to my house, you will think I live in a pharmacy. I have some routine drugs at home that I give to my children before taking them to the clinic. I don’t play with the health of my children. My wife gave birth to my three kids through a caesarean section. One died before. Another one has now died. The first one died at birth even after the CS. That was the third one. The second one was Emmanuel. Everyone who knows me knows that I don’t joke with my children at all.
What did the school say to you on hearing that your son had died?
They have been lying to me. One thing that has kept me going is that I believe that with God everything is possible and that God has a hand in everything that I am going through. My father always tells me to accept the truth. So, I have accepted my fate. My son is dead and there is nothing I can do about it. God gives, and God takes. I am still mourning my son. Who am I? What do I have? All I want from the school is to tell me the truth about the matter and let me leave them alone. I told the school proprietor that I didn’t have anything to do with him, but I wanted him to tell me the exact thing that happened to my son. When the Principal alongside the Mathematics teacher, who beat my son, came to my house, I didn’t touch them. They can attest to that. I was there with my wife. I was even begging them to tell me the truth about what happened to my healthy son, who went to their school that Thursday, but they were dodging.
How is your wife taking this sad incident?
A woman who did CS three times and has lost two children? She just underwent a fibroid operation not up to three months ago. Now, she has lost her child. Just imagine the trauma that woman will be living with. She has not been able to sleep or eat since the incident. She has become a shadow of herself. I have a lawyer, who is ready for us to go to court. He wanted to come to Lagos today to file a suit for the school to be locked up for investigation. If I take this case to the palace on Lagos Island, something will certainly be done. I want the school to tell me the truth. I have withdrawn my daughter from that school, because of the accumulated trauma. Every night she sleeps, she mentions her brother’s name. It is the same thing for my wife. Who will hire a psychologist for me to help them through this now?
Did you report the case to the authorities?
The school said they had reported to the Morogbo Police Station at Agbara that my son died from vomiting. How can somebody just die from vomiting if nothing triggers it?
What are your demands?
The appeal is to the government to intervene in this matter. The school should be closed down for investigation. I need justice!
Has your son been buried?