By Frank Ulom
The University of Calabar (UNICAL) has suspended four (4) staff in connection with the death of a 300-Level student, Ms Precious Mhenuter Agindi of the Department of Library and Information Science.
CONVERSEER earlier reported that Ms Agindi died at the University’s Medical Centre on January 28, 2023, while seeking medical attention. The incident led to students’ uproar as the Management of the institution later set up a panel to investigate the matter.
Addressing newsmen Today, Tuesday, February 14, 2023, Prof. Florence Obi, Vice-Chancellor (VC) of UNICAL said the affected staff are being suspended for 3 months as the university will continue to do its best to maintain international standards.
She said: “While life and death are both in God’s hands, the management of the university strongly believes that it is our responsibility to do our best at our respective duty posts to offer the service of care both professionally and emotionally considering our quest for excellence as an academic institution.
“It is on this note that management feels that medical personnel in our medical centre must give not just professional services but emotional and psychological services which are more soothing especially when one is in a sick bed.
“When that is done, even if the worst happens, no one is blamed.
Honestly, the problem of commitment to work in the University of Calabar is a concrete reality that stares us in the face generally, including the Medical Centre. I can assure you of the determination of Management to check this unfortunate phenomenon and deal with it decisively, including applying sanctions as necessary.
Management has, therefore, decided to place all the staff on duty on a 3-month suspension for lack of empathy and psychological support and especially for demanding money for a card against the Medical centre policy of attending to patients in critical condition first”.
The VC said false reports were peddled about the issues from various sources, urging Comedian Content Creator, MC Koboko to retract the misleading 6 minutes video he uploaded on Facebook and other Social Media Platforms and tender a letter of apology. She also mandated the Content Creator to release a counter video through the same platform to that effect.
“Let me state categorically here that management in consultation with the university governing Council demand, on behalf of the University, that a certain individual called ‘MC Koboko’ who terribly maligned and defamed the Institution by making a 6-minute video on social media releases a counter video through the same platform and a written apology to the University of Calabar within 7 days from today. We shall be compelled to take serious action against him according to the laws of the land if he fails to do so”, Obi said.
Obi who disclosed that the late student has been laid to rest Saturday, February 11, 2023, in her hometown, Gbe Nanav in Kwande Local Government Area of Benue State, said an autopsy result says otherwise as peddled by misinformation carriers.
“As I addressed protesting students on campus that fateful day, this much I promised we would do. In fulfilment of this, with the full approval of the family of the deceased, we ordered an autopsy which was carried out by one of the foremost Nigerian Forensic Pathologists. Ladies and gentlemen, we are thankful to God that our late student was peacefully laid to rest on Saturday 11th February 2023 in her hometown, Gbe Nanav in Kwande Local Government Area of Benue State.
“Yesterday, in the presence of the representatives of the family, the Benue and Tiv Community in the University, SUG officials, members of the Panel of Inquiry, Management received the Autopsy and the panel of inquiry reports.
“The report of the autopsy scientifically and medically detailed a clear and conclusive cause of death of our late student who was only brought to our Medical Centre in a very critical state where she died less than an hour later. For emphasis, let me categorically state that the death of Ms Precious had nothing to do with the rumoured ruptured appendicitis as her appendix was found at autopsy to be healthy (not inflamed and intact).
“The management has decided even in the midst of peddling falsehood against the university, to respect the death, and in consideration of the emotional trauma of her parents and the immediate family to simply say that the death was due to medical complications. It must be emphasised that the late student never went to the university medical centre but was only taken there by her friends in a very critical medical condition the day she died.
“Please note that Ms Precious had received treatment from other private clinics in town from the scan result and other medications presented to the nurses on duty when she was brought in. The Panel of inquiry made up of experienced medical consultants and doctors absorbed the nurses on duty of any professional negligence but saw elements of lack of emotional commitment as medical professionals.
“The above investigation has revealed that the patient was brought to the Medical Centre critically ill and her eventual death shortly after arrival was not as a result of professional negligence by the staff of the medical centre. Also, there is an established clinical condition as the cause of death (which in deferment to the family and with respect to the dead we do not wish to reveal). Yet all sorts of lies have been told both online and offline to batter the image of the University and instigate unrest amongst the students”, the VC said.
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Prof. Obi said even as the institution tends not to join issues with anyone, people should always confirm information before pushing it out to the public as this could damage the reputation of any body.
She said: “This regrettable incident sparked very strong emotions, students’ demonstrations on that fateful day and a lot of misinformation and outright falsehood peddled by ill-informed and mischievous people, both within and outside the campus. Regrettably, the lies that have been deposited in the public space, conscientiously or unconsciously, as amplified by social media, have had a damaging impact on the reputation and image of our University that my administration is working very hard to protect. Management chose not to join issues with peddlers of falsehood at a time of deep sadness and sober reflection.
“These persons without cause hastily blamed the death on the Medical Centre and by extension the University. Though we maintained studied silence, we strongly felt convinced of the need to investigate the handling of the patient in our facility by constituting a Panel of Inquiry as well as carrying out a Coroner’s Inquest to determine the cause of death. This, we are sure will serve a great purpose in the future, for understanding the causes of things is one of the callings of the University”.