It was a fine sunny day on Thursday, 10th of March, 2016, and all was peaceful just like any other normal school day at Government Day Secondary School, Kalgo in Kebbi State, until a bizarre incident put the students, teachers, parents and education administrators in the state in shock. YAHYA SARKI, who went to Kalgo writes on what happened. 71 female students, after a meal of macaroni they had bought from a food vendor in the school premises, collapsed with serious stomach pains.
It all started when a girl was taken to the school principal, Hajiya Gwamma Sakaba’s office complaining of stomach pains. “I directed one of the teachers to give her some drugs to ease the pain. Thereafter, I asked the school matron to take her home.” The principal further explained that just after five minutes, another report came of four more students having collapsed in their class; therefore she rushed to the scene with some teachers to find out what had happened. She was informed that these students had eaten some of the macaroni too.
The principal collected what was left of the food to use as a sample before rushing the students to the Primary Health Centre in the area. Even before they started treatment of the sick students, several more students were reportedly affected, and even foaming from their mouths. This situation threw the whole school into confusion. “I was so scared and confused seeing the increasing number of the students falling sick, so I rushed to the office of the Sole Administrator and informed him about the bad situation in my school.
He called his Director of Health and they rushed to the Health Centre to see the semi-conscious students. When they reached the place, one of the girls’ conditions worsened and they took her, with the help of the Police, to Birnin Kebbi Federal Medical Centre. I submitted the sample of the food which the students had eaten since I had it with me. “The investigation carried out in FMC, Birnin Kebbi revealed that the palm oil used in cooking the Macaroni contained some substance that may be poisonous, and that the odour of the palm oil was unusual. Food poisoning was suspected. The Police launched an investigation, arrested the food seller after she revealed where she bought the oil. Following this lead, the palm oil seller was also apprehended.
Gwamma, further explaining the gravity of the problem, was prompted to alert the Zonal Education Officer, Secondary School Management Board, and the District Head of Kalgo. The Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education officials were also informed and they all rushed to the hospital to see the 71 students. State Government officials; the secretary to the State Government and Head of Service were there too and even provided all the medical needs of the patients.
By 2pm, some of the students started recovering with parents and guardians, who thronged the hospital taking home their wards who responded to treatment. Most of the students were discharged by 6pm with only four students who were still being treated. The following day, things started to take another dimension in the school; the attendance of students dropped significantly because of the fear of what had happened.
Secondly, another version of the story was being circulated that the incident was caused by evil spirits in the school. The principal said however, “The issue of evil spirits came up when one Malam Jelani, an Islamic exorcist was treating one of the girls. In the course of driving away evil spirits from the girl, the spirits, through the girl, sent a message that they attacked the students because of the time change from 1:30 pm to 1:55 pm and that time marks the beginning of their activities. The spirits also complained about the morning assembly time initially held by 7:30 am but changed to 7:10 am. In fact, the message the evil spirits were trying to send to us was that they are not comfortable with the change the school had adopted that’s why they punished the students of the school.”
But the story of spiritual attack was dismissed by education administrators. According to the principal, when the executive secretary of Secondary Schools Management Board visited the students in an organised assembly, he counseled them to accept the incident as just a thing ordained by God and not anything to do with spirits. Imam Abdulkadir Jelani Kalgo, who is said to possess abilities of communicating with jinns, argued in strong terms that the incident that affected the 71 female students had nothing to do with food poisoning as the medical experts claim. Kalgo claimed that the incident was instigated by the spirits who wanted to harm the students. “I was invited by the Sole Administrator of the local government that the State deputy governor required my service to assist the girls, especially one of them that was on the verge of dying.
When I reached the hospital, I met the doctors trying their best but I turned to one of the students who was seriously affected and was at the time showing signs of dying. I had an MP3 system that contained verses of the Holy Quran so I played it for the girl but she suddenly and violently resisted. This is how spirits behave when they possess their victim’s body. So I began driving away the spirits using some water mixed with a liquid called Khal after reciting some verses of the Holy Quran inside the water, then I splashed the water gradually on her face. At that moment the spirits started talking through the girl saying, “We, the spirits sent down this curse to harm the girls for tampering with the timing of the school which has affected our activities. If not for the timely intervention of Malam, we would have killed the girls to teach human beings a lesson “. He repeated the same procedure on three other girls and received the same message from the spirits.
He said during the exorcism, the spirits revealed that they contaminated the palm oil which the girls ate to cause havoc in the school.” The Imam expressed shock over the claim by the education administrators dismissing the issue of spirit attacks against the students and cautioned that such a stand could further endanger the lives of the students going by what had happened. Kalgo averred that both in Islam and Christianity, it is believed that there are evil spirits and of the dangers they can cause to human beings. Similarly, Musa Hassan Kalgo, the Sole Administrator of the local government described the incident as pathetic while assuring that sale of food within the school premises was banned. He also explained how he mobilised health personnel of the local government to help the situation.
“Immediately that incident happened, I directed the Divisional Police Officer to arrest the food vendor and stop all sales of food around the school “. Also confirming the incident, Yahaya Umar Kalgo, who is in charge of the Primary Health Centre in Kalgo where the students were first admitted affirmed that from the history of what happened in the school and the symptoms the students exhibited, the food they ate was poisonous. “Even though there was no laboratory for carrying out tests on the students.”
Ubaida Hamza, an SS2 student and one of the students who was affected narrates to LEADERSHIP Friday, “When we bought food, we sat and started eating, after a few spoonfuls, I told my friend Sadiya that my stomach hurt and I suspected it was the food. My friend also made the same complain and I said to them I could not wait, so I rushed back to my class and the next thing was that I found myself in the hospital with serious stomach pains.” Hauwau Bello, an SS3 student said “As we bought food from the vendor, we all noticed and complained that the taste of the food had changed. We usually eat in groups. Just 10 minutes later, I started experiencing a very unusual pain in my belly and I started vomiting and was taken to the hospital.” Normalcy has since returned to the school although it still grapples with low attendance.
Source : NNU
Okegbemi Olusoji Festus is an Editor/Creative writer at campustori.com, A digital media Executive and a known Social Media Enthusiast.