Death In Lagos School Bus: I Watched Junior Suffocate And ‘Slept Off’ — 11-Year-Old Survivor Recounts

Serious tragedy befell two families in Lagos recently following the death of their children.

The children, of ages 11 and eight, respectively, died inside a school bus in Aguda, Surulere area of Lagos, two weeks ago.

The deceased, Izuorah Sochima Victor, eight, and Miss. Ilofulunwa Ugomsinachi, 11, who were pupils of Handmaids International Catholic School, Aguda, died of suffocation while they were being conveyed home by the bus driver, Mr. Odunsi Olurotimi Valentine, fondly called Uncle Mandela.

Cry for help

Other 23 pupils who narrowly survived, were rushed to the hospital , as some of them were said to have fainted . As at Monday, one of them was still on medication owing to complaint of stomach ache.

One of the surviving pupils and elder sister to the late Victor, narrated how she watched her brother sleep off that day, unknown to her that he had passed on.

Explaining, shortly after she was discharged from Randle Hospital, where she was placed on oxygen, she said, “When Victor and other pupils were suffocating, we called Uncle Mandella to open the windows.

“I said ‘Uncle Mandella, my brother is shaking’. But he didn’t listen , he kept driving until he got to the destination of one of the pupils”.

She said by then, her brother had slept off.

My six years wait

For devastated Mrs Ebere Izuorah, the tragedy has sunk her into despondency.

Lamenting in tears, she said, “ After six years of waiting to have Victor…. Oh God !” She further expressed disappointment at the school for not showing up to pay her family a condolence visit , days after the incident.

“No Reverend Father or sister ,or a management staff has come to ask how we feel , apart from the visit on Saturday ( a day after the incident), as if it was a cockroach that died”.

On his part, her husband, Mr. Izuorah Chidi, a trader , recalled how he returned home that ateful day, without seeing his children , who usually returned from schoom by 1pm on Friday. He said he put a call to the driver of the school bus, Mandella, who informed that the bus broke down.

Tension, according to him, mounted when the children did show up by 5pm. Again, he called the driver who told him first, to come to Al-Amin area in Surulere and later, to Randle hospital.

He said, “I rushed down to the hospital where I saw my 11-year-old daughter placed on oxygen and drip. I didn’t see my 8-year-old son. I was told he was in the other children ward.

“I got there but didn’t see him. I asked the doctor where my son was and he told me that my son and a girl who was also in the bus were dead on arrival while other kids in the bus were being revived with oxygen.

“My daughter told me that she watched her younger brother suffocate and that she called on the driver to open the windows because her brother was dying, but he didn’t listen to her. It wasn’t until he got to the destination of one of the pupils before he realised that something had happened to the children”

He stated that the remains of his son was deposited at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH).

Driver’s story

For the driver, he was full of remorse and wished the hand of the clock could be turned back, for him to correct his error. He admitted being alerted by the children that some of them were feeling unwell but said he thought they were trying to play pranks.

Explaining why he wound up the glasses, Mandalla said, “ It rained heavily on that day and the whole place was flooded. I had a flat tyre and left the children in the vehicle to go get a vulcanizer. I wound up the whole glasses because they were all alone and I didn’t want them to be kidnapped .

“By the time the tyre was fixed , I drove on until I got to the front of the house of one of the pupils and discovered to my shock that some.of the children had slept off, while others were vimiting.

“I rushed them to the hospital but unfortunately, two of them were confirmed dead. I didn’t do it intentionally. I plead for mercy from all the parents”, he said in an emotional laden tone..

School reacts

While management of Handmaids International Catholic School, expressed shock at the tragic incident, it however, clarified that the bus was not the school’s but a private arrangement between parents and owner of the transport company.

A statement by Head of the Head Teacher, Sister Mary Okolo, read : “ I was shocked and traumatized by the news and which I received by 10.56pm on July 8,2022.

“Since it was very ate in the night, I could only make calls to some staff to enquire if they were aware of what had happened. I was told that they have been hearing the news but they were not sure if it was true or not. After some other calls, I was able to confirm the sad and unfortunate incident; that two of our pupils had died.

“When I inquired about the names of the pupils and details of their parents from our database, I was given the phone numbers of the parents; Mrs. Izuorah and Barr. Ilofulunwa.

“I immediately placed a call to Mrs. Izuorah, who confirmed the death of her son while crying. I could only say a few words of consolation to her when the call ended abruptly. I placed another call to her to inquire of their whereabouts. When she picked, she informed me that they were at the Mother and Child Centre.

“ I placed a call to the parents of the second child (Barr. Ilofulunwa) but it did not connect. After this failed attempt, I proceeded to reach out to the senior staff of the School and we were in constant communication until the early hours of Saturday July 9, 2022.


She stated that the next day being July 9,2022, some senior members of staff of the school , with the Chairman of the Parents Teachers Association of the School, accompanied her to the Hospital where they met parents of late Ilofulunwa and condoled with them .

Thereafter, she said they visited the home of the second victim but that “upon introducing ourselves to the family, one of the men we met there picked up a glass side stool and threatened to smash it on our heads if we did not leave.

“Mrs. Izuorah shouted that we should run away. We all scrambled and ran out of the house , into the cars that we came in. The PTA chairman was manhandled in the process but was rescued by a policeman we met there.”

She further clarified that , “on a proper authorization issued by the parents of the pupils, the pupils are allowed to be signed out by a bearer and taken to their various houses after closing time.”

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