At the time of filing these reports, the Student Union Government of Olabisi Onabanjo University, parents, friends, hall-mates and course-mates of the students who were crushed to death recently are still grieving. It was a week-long activities as protest, candle-light processions, church and mosque services were organized for the repose of their souls.
ENCOMIUM Weekly’s Dayo Rufai who was at the campus few days back had an exclusive chat with the SUG president as well as some of the friends of deceased.
‘Why we took the corpses from a private hospital’ – COMRADE ADEGBESAN ADENOLA, SUG President
Please, accept our condolence again on the death of some of the students…
Thanks you, Sir.
My name is Comrade Adegbesan Adenola, popularly known as Malcomzy. I am the President of the Olabisi Onabanjo University Students’ Union Government.
How did you receive the news, and what was the first thing that came to your mind when the news was brought to your attention?
Someone actually called me that our students were involved in an accident along Ilisan – Sagamu expressway. At first, we weren’t sure if they were students of our own university. It took us a short period to confirm if they were students of OOU, and I was very shocked when I confirmed they are students of OOU. I didn’t expect something like that to come up. When I first heard, I was thinking it would be minor wounds and bruises. I was shocked when I heard the number of deaths recorded.
From the information you gathered, how did the incident actually happened?
Yes, from the information we gathered, the bus our students boarded was actually going to Sango-Ota. Also, there was a truck with a container who was driving against traffic. We didn’t get too much details of the accident because we have just one survivor, who couldn’t ascertain much concerning what happened. We just relied on some circumstantial information or evidence. We gathered the trailer drove against traffic, plying the same road as the bus, facing one another, which gave birth to the driver of the trailer losing control, and it resulted in the container falling on the bus leaving nothing less than 13 people dead.
The SUG was reported to have stormed the morgue and forcefully took possession of the corpses. Can you let us into details of this occurrence?
On the day of the accident, there were reports all over the media, that the remains of the accident victims have been deposited at Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital, but unfortunately the OOU ASUU Chairman, Professor Agboola actually informed me that it was not the case.
We later headed for the place where they were deposited and demanded the remains. We were surprised by the facilities they have there, which cannot be compared to OOUTH (Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital). It’s like a department in OOUTH. Even, considering the distance, they actually took the students on a bad road to a maternity home, which does not have enough facility or equipment.
I even doubt the manpower, or capability of the place, I don’t really understand. At the end of the day, when the corpses were to be released, the hospital demanded thirty five thousand naira (N35,000) per corpse and the parents or relations of some victims were already negotiating. We felt it was unjust, if had it been they were transferred to our own hospital, nothing of such would have happened.
Also, there was a possibility there would be more survivors, following the world class equipment, doctors and manpower in OOUTH. We insisted that nothing should be collected from anyone, we mobilised ourselves and agitated, because it was a great disaster we encountered, and for the hospital to have demanded money showed a conspiracy going on around that axis.
You mobilised your fellow students for a massive protest the day after. Were you able to achieve your aim?
The demonstration was to make the whole world know how we felt. Of course, we have issued an ultimatum and we look forward to it. We know at that point in time, there is nothing we could do to bring them back, but we want to ensure we got justice.
We want to know what is going on around that axis, we want to know whatever company that owns the truck. We know the company might actually say ‘they are not aware.’ I know the containers transporting raw materials to their company have always been driving against traffic and they are aware.
They ought to have issued a penalty for any driver caught driving against traffic but they overlooked it. The company itself is aware that their drivers usually drive against traffic and they keep on opening the gates for them, that means the company itself has consented to that illegal act and one way or the other, we believe the company should also share in the responsibility and blame of our colleagues that died.
We learnt the SUG has reached out to the company which allegedly owns the truck in a bid to arrest the fleeing driver and also get compensation for the victims?
Yes! We have made contact to the company, and our message has been well delivered to them. We have also submitted a copy to the Area Commander for full investigation. We have also demanded investigation from the state government and we are aware the governor was at the venue of the accident last Wednesday.
So, we want to believe that part of our protest has actually started working, for the governor to actually come down to the scene. One way or the other, we believe we will soon get to the root of this matter.
What efforts have you made to reach out to the families of the deceased?
We have made efforts to reach out to the family with the university management. We together set up a condolence delegation comprising the management and representatives of the Students’ Union, and we have contacted five out of the eight students and by tomorrow, Saturday July 4, they would go ahead and visit the other families.
However, this will not stop the Students’ Union as a body from visiting them. We’ve just finished a memorial service, which was organised by the university chaplaincy. We had a candle light procession for them after the protest on the black Monday, while a prayer session was held on the solemn Tuesday. Following today’s memorial service, we can now plan to visit the families as students’ union body.
Are there any plans to immortalise the students?
Yes, of course. That is already on the table. We have proposed to the university management and we are still looking for ideas of what we can do to keep their memories alive. Of course, it is a very sad memory, but one way or the other, we have to make sure they are not forgotten in the history of our university.
What is your message to the families, friends and associates of the deceased?
There is only one prayer we have for them, that the Lord God will give them the fortitude to bear the loss and make good out of the calamity that has befallen their families. Also, to the colleagues and hall mates, we share your grief and we pray God preserve our lives, for we are only privileged to be on earth. Thank you.