There was panic in Osogbo, the Osun State capital, on Tuesday as about 35 pupils of Fakunle Comprehensive School, Osogbo, were hospitalised after inhaling teargas fired by some riot policemen.
The pupils who became unconscious after inhaling the teargas were rushed to two different hospitals for urgent medical attention.
As the news of the incident spread, parents and guardians besieged the school to ascertain the fate of their children and wards.
While those whose children and wards were affected were directed to the hospitals where they were being treated, other parents quickly took away their children who were still on the school premises.
PUNCH Metro gathered that trouble started when riot policemen attached to PMF 39 Base, Osogbo, were undergoing their morning drill within the premises of the base, and fired several teargas during the process.
Some pupils of the school located directly opposite the base were said to have inhaled the teargas that spread into the school premises and lost consciousness.
A source in the school, who preferred not to be named because he was not permitted to talk to journalists told PUNCH Metro that the pupils were already in their various classes when teargas fired by the riot policemen spread into the premises around 9am.
It was further learnt that some of the pupils lost consciousness, after inhaling the gas, and were rushed to a private hospital located near the school for treatment, while others were taken to the Osun State University Teaching Hospital, Osogbo, by operatives of the Osun Ambulance Scheme that responded to a distress call from the school.
When our correspondent arrived at the school located on the Osogbo-Ikirun Road, only teachers were met, as the remaining pupils were said to have been asked to go home.
None of the teachers approached was willing to talk on the development, but a parent who identified himself simply as Gideon told our correspondent that he was directed to check the Osun State University Teaching Hospital, Osogbo for his daughter, who was said to have been 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 apologised 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 apologise 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.
Giving further details about the incident, Head of Operations, Osun Ambulance Scheme, Elizabeth Arowosafe, said operatives of the agency, responding to a distress call, took 11 patients to the UNIOSUN Teaching Hospital, after all the bed spaces at a private hospital near the school had been occupied.
Arowosafe also said the school authorities were advised to dismiss the pupils for the day to prevent a fatality.
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 inhale the gas. So, we told the principal to release the pupils to go home.”