Masinde Muliro University closed indefinitely following student unrest over death of colleague

By: BENSON AMADALA

Masinde Muliro University was on Thursday night closed indefinitely following a six-hour protest by students over the death of their colleague.

The students on Thursday morning said they had a go ahead from police to conduct a peaceful demonstration over the death of Ms Abigael Ng’asia who was a second year student at the university.

Representatives of the students, Felix Koech and Brian Amirah said all they wanted to do was to hand in a protest note to governor Wycliffe Oparanya and ask him to investigate the reported deaths of patients at the Kakamega referral hospital and take necessary action.

A notice pinned on the university’s notice board at around 6pm asked the students to vacate the school immediately.

“This is to inform you that due to the ongoing unrest, the University Senate has decided to close the university indefinitely. All students living at the university hostels are requested to leave by the end of today, November 19,” said the notice signed by Dr C Onyancha, the acting registrar, academic affairs.

Some students were stranded in Kakamega town saying that they were caught unawares by the Senate’s decision to close the institution.

However, efforts to contact the vice chancellor Prof Fredrick Otieno were fruitless as calls to his mobile phone went unanswered.

The Nation learnt that the University Senate had a meeting from late afternoon and issued notice for the closure of the University just before 7 pm.

Students complained that the decision to close the University had been hurriedly arrived at since the protests earlier in the day had largely been peaceful.

JOURNALIST INJURED

During the protests, several people including a Citizen Television cameraman Mr Fidel Odhiambo were injured in an ugly confrontation between a group of youths armed with sticks and the students at the county headquarters.

The youths attacked Mr Odhiambo damaging his camera and laptop at the county headquarters.

The students had marched to the County headquarters and demanded to be addressed by Governor Oparanya over reported deaths of patients at the hospital when the commotion started.

Ms Abigael’s husband, Mr Wellington Chibole, also a student at Masinde Muliro said his wife developed complications after she had been discharged from the hospital a week ago.

She had undergone a caesarean section at the hospital and delivered a baby boy but when she got home she started complaining of pain and experiencing difficulties in breathing.

Mr Chibole said he rushed his wife to the hospital for treatment but was informed a machine for testing haemoglobin had broken down forcing him to take his wife to a private hospital for the tests.

He said when he brought her back for treatment, she was left writhing in pain in the ward for 12-hours and died after her condition got worse.

“My wife never received any treatment form hospital but was given some pain killers by a clinician and left writhing in pain,” said Mr Chibole from Shisenye village in Isongo sub-location in Mumias East constituency.

OPARANYA DRIVES OFF

During the protests, police lobbed teargas canisters and fired several times in the air to disperse the students as the youths attacked them.

Governor Oparanya and his security team drove away from the County headquarters without addressing the students.

“We do not understand why goons were hired to beat up peaceful students seeking audience with Governor over a crucial issue such as the death of patients at a County facility,” said Mr Amirah.

The students said they wanted Mr Oparanya to explain why a committee he appointed to investigate the death of the expectant mother at the hospital three weeks ago had not handed in its findings.

The committee headed by Dr Kubasu Wekesa was expected to hand in the report to Mr Oparanya within seven days which have since elapsed.

On Monday, a communication from the County Government said the committee had requested for more time to finalise their report.

SOURCE: DAILY NATION