Panic erupted in Osogbo, the capital of Osun State, on Tuesday when approximately 35 students from Fakunle Comprehensive School were hospitalized. The reason behind their hospitalization was the inhalation of tear gas fired by a group of riot policemen. The affected students lost consciousness and were quickly taken to two different hospitals for immediate medical care.
When news of the incident circulated, parents and guardians rushed to the school to find out how their children were doing. Those whose children were affected were directed to the hospitals where they were receiving treatment. Meanwhile, other parents swiftly picked up their children who were still at the school.
According to reports, the problem began when riot policemen from PMF 39 Base in Osogbo were doing their morning training at the base. During the training, they fired multiple tear gas canisters. Unfortunately, some students from a nearby school inhaled the tear gas that spread into their premises and became unconscious.
A source from the school, who requested anonymity for not being authorized to speak to journalists, revealed that the students were already in their classrooms when the teargas, fired by the riot policemen, entered the school premises around 9 am.
Additionally, it was discovered that some of the students passed out after breathing in the gas and were quickly taken to a nearby private hospital for medical assistance. Meanwhile, other students were transported to the Osun State University Teaching Hospital in Osogbo by the Osun Ambulance Scheme, which promptly responded to a distress call made by the school.
A parent named Gideon mentioned that he was instructed to go to the Osun State University Teaching Hospital in Osogbo to find his daughter, who was reportedly affected by the teargas.
“When I got here, I was told to check UNIOSUN Teaching Hospital for my daughter. The pupils have been sent home after about 20 of them lost consciousness after inhaling teargas fired by the men of the MOPOL Base here,” Gideon said.
When contacted, the spokesperson for the Osun State Police Command, Yemisi Opalola, said the riot policemen were engaging in their usual morning drills and apologized to those that were affected.
“I just spoke to the people at the MOPOL Base. They were just engaging in their morning drills which involved the use of teargas. We apologize for the inconvenience. There will be necessary adjustments in operation since the base is now close to where other people also operate their businesses,” she said.
Providing additional information about the incident, Elizabeth Arowosafe, the Head of Operations at the Osun Ambulance Scheme, stated that their team received a distress call and transported 11 patients to the UNIOSUN Teaching Hospital. This was done because all the available beds at a nearby private hospital were already occupied.
Arowosafe also mentioned that the school authorities were advised to send the students home for the day to avoid any tragic outcome.
She said, “We moved 11 patients to UNIOSUN Teaching Hospital, Osogbo, and the others were taken to Spring Hospital, close to the school. Before we got to the scene, the school authority already took some of the affected pupils to the private hospital. We cannot just disagree with them because the lives of the pupils are important to us.
“It was when the Spring Hospital was occupied that we moved the remaining students to UNIOSUN Teaching Hospital). We have 11 patients at UNIOSUN, and the remaining students are at Spring Hospital. In all, about 35 pupils were rushed to the hospitals, according to the information given to us.
“We told the school management to release the pupils because they were passing out as they inhaled the gas. So, we told the principal to release the pupils to go home.”