There was panic yesterday in Kubwa, a suburb of the Federal Capital Territory, following the death of four pupils at Local Education Authority II Primary School.
They died after allegedly eating biscuits shared by an unidentified classmate on Tuesday.
Two of the deceased, said to be from the same family, were buried yesterday.
The victims are Na’imat Yahaya (14 – primary 4); Yahaya Garba (14 – primary 4) and Moses Sunday (primary 1).
Unconfirmed reports said the deceased bled through their mouths and ears before they died.
The incident caused panic in the community as parents and guardians rushed to withdraw their kids from school.
At the school, teachers were discussing the incident; the headteacher gave an account of the tragedy to officials of the FCT Education Secretariat and Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT).
Reporters were barred from the briefing; the headteacher declined to comment.
A teacher, who pleaded for anonymity, said: “When we came this morning (yesterday), a primary four pupil fell ill. The HOD noticed it and asked him to go home. The other child in primary five, who happened to be her sibling, was ill also. They died today (yesterday).
“Immediately we got the news, the headteacher asked if there was any celebration, but we said nothing like that happened.
“Later, he briefed us and we heard that another child in primary 1 died. This one fought yesterday after closing, and on getting home, he was taken to the hospital where he died.
“After the headteacher’s address, we went into our classes, and before we knew it, Gbagi and Hausa people came into the school premises with stick, stones and bottle to attack teachers.
“God helped us because the area council chairman came into the premises after hearing the news. He called the police and the situation was arrested. They later said we should allow the children go home but we suggested that those whose parents might still be at work should be allowed to stay, but that generated another crisis.
“Some of the pupils ran to meet those in the secondary arm, while some ran out through the windows.”
On whether biscuit was shared or not, the teacher said the school barred pupils from bringing edibles to school during any celebration.
A primary 3 pupil, who allegedly ate from the biscuits, is on admission at the emergency ward of the Kubwa General Hospital.
Looking pale in her yellow and white checked uniform, she laid on her side with her mother watching over her.
The troubled mother said she rushed Hasia to the hospital when she learnt she ate from the biscuits.
She said “a Muslim sister” gave her the biscuit.
“There was a party in the school on Tuesday and my daughter ate biscuits with other pupils. We discovered that some pupils died at night.
“So I asked if she ate the biscuit and who gave her; she said it was a Muslim sister and I was satisfied with her explanation. But the Bwari Area Council Chairman, Musa Dikko, told us to take her to the hospital because some pupils died, so I brought her here.”
She gave her daughter some herbal concoction at home when she complained of stomach pain, and she became scared when she heard that Nahimah, a relation and a pupil of the same school, had died.
“When I heard that Naimat had died, I quickly brought my daughter to the hospital, but since we got here, nobody has attended to us,” she complained.
But the Chief Medical Doctor, Dr. Lasisi Akinola, said the hospital had admitted some pupils, a situation she described as not unusual.
“We receive sick pupils and people all the time, so there is nothing unusual about that. I know we have the body of a pupil who died after a fight, but I don’t have information on what you are talking about,” he said.
Police spokesman Anjuguri Manzah said investigation had begun, adding that the case will be transferred to the Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department.
The Education Secretariat confirmed the deaths. It said that three others were hospitalised.
A statement by the Assistant Director (Information), Anthony Ogunleye, said the school had been shut for the rest of the week to enable investigators do a thorough assignment.
The statement reads: “The attention of the Education Secretariat, Federal Capital Territory Administration, has been drawn to both media and public speculations that some pupils of the LEA Primary School, Kubwa 2, died today, February 21.
“We regret to confirm that three pupils died and two others are hospitalised in circumstances that are still being investigated.
“However, it is essential, in the interest of concerned parents and the public, to state the following:
The school is a non-boarding primary school withoutprovision for any form of government school feeding.
It was reported that some pupils ate biscuits bought outside the school premises and ate after school hours, which might have adversely affected their health.
Until investigations are completed, the cause/causes of the deaths remain speculative.
So far, there has been no evidence of deliberate foul play, but investigations are on.
Parents are advised to remain calm and be assured of the safety of their children in all FCT schools.
The public will be informed on the progress of investigations.
“The Secretary for Education, Senator Isa Maina, commiserates with families of the victims.”