Mystery Surrounds Death Of Infant In Lagos Crèche


both Mr. Anthony and Dr. Jennifer Abuneme gave birth to their first child on
Feb. 11, 2012, their joy knew no bounds. In their excitement, the couple
decided to christen the new born baby, Osezua Emmanuel.
Among the Ishan of Edo State, the name
Osezua means ‘good things come from God’. It was understandable. The Abunemes
got married on May 14, 2011 and the same month, the wife got pregnant and later
gave birth to a bouncing baby boy.

To the admiration of his parents,
Osezua grew up very fast and was soon known as a vivacious boy. By September,
he was registered at the crèche section of the Masters Ville Children School,
Ajao Estate. He was doing well until tragedy struck two months later.

On Nov. 12, Osezua’s parents dropped
him off at school at about 7 am and went to their different places of work.
Unfortunately, it was the last time they would see him alive.
About three hours after the Abunemes
had left, they were informed that their son, whom they had left in the care of
a nanny, had been rushed to the Faith City Hospital, breathless.
In disbelief, the couple rushed to the
hospital only to be shown the lifeless body of their son at the emergency ward,
which is situated opposite the school.
Whatever transpired behind the walls
of Osezua’s school within the three-hour interval between the period he took
ill and arrived at the hospital dead, in spite of its proximity to the school,
is shrouded in mystery.
Abuneme told Saturday PUNCH that when he
arrived at the hospital, he instinctively took the lifeless body of his son and
tried to give him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation but it was in vain.
Although they are grieved at losing
their first and only child, who was hale and hearty a few hours after they
dropped him at school, Osezua’s parents appear to have accepted their fate with
stoic calmness.
As soon as it occurred to him that his
son was dead, Mr. Abuneme contacted a church priest who came to bless the
corpse and prepared it for immediate burial.
He said he had to bury the child and
go back home to grieve, knowing that there was no point dissipating energy on
legal action of any kind.
He said, “I requested an explanation
of what really happened. What they told me was that my son choked when they
were feeding him. We handed him over to one of the nannies, one Ijere at about
7 am on that day and drove off to work.
“But I learnt that when the other
nanny, Mrs. Dauda came, she asked Ijere why she had Osezua strapped on her
back. The other woman said she had to carry him on her back because nobody was
around when we brought him  to the school and she wanted to do something.
“Dauda said she took my boy from her
colleague and in her words, both she and Osezua slept off. When they woke up,
Osezua started crying and she wanted to give him food. That morning, my wife
had prepared a meal of beans and put it in his pack. The nanny said she fed him
about four spoons of the meal and she was about to give him the fifth, when the
boy choked. Then she raised the alarm.
“I was told that Mrs. Ijere (who was
actually an auxiliary nurse) said she held the boy upside down in an attempt to
resuscitate him, albeit in a crude way, instead of dashing across the road to
the hospital, which was just within easy reach.”
Masters Ville Children School is very
close to Faith City Hospital. Both institutions are numbered 11 and 16,
respectively, on Asa-Afariogun Street in upscale Ajao Estate, in the Okota area
of Lagos.
But on the second day, the boy’s
mother discovered blood stains on his dress. The clothe had smelt of
mentholatum ointment when it was returned.
The discovery had ticked off an alarm
and the Abunemes decided to unravel the mysterious circumstances surrounding
their son’s sudden death.
“I made up my mind to get to the root
of what happened to my boy. It was not that it would bring him back to life
because I knew that he was gone forever. But I was worried about other
children. The incident happened on Monday and I contacted the police on Friday.
This tells you that my mission is to sensitise other parents and warn them
about what may happen to their children at any time,” he said.
Abuneme complained that the attitude
of the authorities of the Masters Ville School toward the tragic incident did
not help matters. He said there was no representation from the school after he
buried his child.
He said, “In fact, when people started
coming to commiserate with us at home, some of my friends and family became
curious when they did not see anybody from the school. Some of them even
threatened to storm the school and create a scene, but I pleaded with them not
to do that.
“They insisted on going there, at
least to let the school authorities realise that even if it was a chicken that
died in their poultry, there should be a measure of compassion, let alone a
child. They went and when they came back, they told me that the school
management said they would have come, but they feared that they might be
“It was after this that representation
from the school came. When I reported the case at the police station in the
estate, it took the school some time before they could produce the pair of
Ijere and Dauda who repeated the same story that I just narrated to you.
“I believe the school is hiding
something from us. For instance, the bottled water in my son’s pack was still
intact. Yet, he was fed.  How can somebody feed a boy of nine months
without giving him water to drink? Curiously, the hot water, which my wife put
in his flask, was half-full when the pack was brought home.
“What did they do with the hot water?
We fed the boy with cereal before taking him to school that morning? Nobody
told us anything about blood, so how come there were blood stains on his dress?
What about the mentholatum?
“When I asked why they didn’t take him
to the hospital opposite the school almost immediately, I was told that they
were trying to put him in a bus and were trying to open the gate. Someone could
have held him and dashed across the road to the hospital in less than one
“When I went back to the hospital, the
doctor told me that he did not have any chance to help the boy because he was
brought in dead. It was the same doctor that took his delivery. So he is more
or less like a member of our family. I can imagine how he felt about the
The death certificate issued to
Osezua’s parents, which was made available to our correspondent, showed that
the boy was dead on arrival in the hospital. The document was signed by one Dr.
Okpaleke Kingsley of Faith City Hospital.
The family wrote a petition to the
Commissioner of Police in Lagos State through the Ajao Police Station, urging
the law enforcement agency to find out why their son was left to die instead of
being rushed to the nearby hospital. A few arrests were made, but the school
authorities have been making different representations to plead with the
When Saturday PUNCH visited the
Master Ville Children School on Tuesday to find out what happened, the
receptionist, who turned hostile as soon as she learnt of the mission of our
correspondent,  blocked all attempts to speak with the head teacher. She
claimed that no incident occurred in the school on Nov. 12.


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