Segun Awofadeji in Bauchi
The management of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) in Bauchi State has confirmed the death of the 28-year-old corps member, Magdalene Yohanna, who died during the batch A orientation exercise, just as it debunked media reports that it covered up the incident.
Also, NYSC has explained that the deceased lied in the medical report she submitted to the scheme during her registration.
The state Coordinator of the NYSC, Afolayan James, who made the confirmation and clarification in a media statement made available to journalists in Bauchi Thursday was reacting to reports in the media that the scheme deliberately covered the death of the corps member.
James said the NYSC management was constrained to respond to the story reported in one of the national dailies in Bauchi (not THISDAY) on April 17, 2019, with the caption: ‘How NYSC concealed the death of Corps member in Bauchi camp’ which is also trending online.
The coordinator, who said the welfare and general well-being of corps members are given top most priority and consideration by the management of the scheme, pointed out that “this informed management’s decision that prospective corps members must come to the orientation camp with a duly signed medical report by a registered medical practitioner from a recognised government healthcare stating the true health condition of every prospective corps member.”
“Also, prospective corps members who have serious health challenges are also relocated instantly to any place where they can receive adequate medical care since their condition would not allow them to stay in camp.”
According to James, “Corps member, Yohanna, reported to camp full of enthusiasm and zeal to serve her fatherland in Bauchi State. Therefore, the corps member did not indicate any health challenge in the registration documents she completed and neither did she complain of Asthma on arrival in the camp.
“Furthermore, the medical certificate of fitness presented by the corps member gave her a clean bill of health.”
The state NYSC coordinator said the deceased participated in all activities in the camp willingly without being forced to do so.
He added that the morning meditation in any NYSC orientation camp does not involve any strenuous activities as it only involved rendition of the National Anthem, NYSC Anthem, recitation of the National Pledge, the National Prayer, as well as listening to inspirational materials in any topic that could inculcate patriotism and selfless service in the corps members.
“It was while this was on that it was noticed she was uncomfortable, and medical officials on standby moved her with the NYSC ambulance to the clinic where she was attended to by corps doctors and the resident doctor from the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Teaching Hospital (ATBUTH) in Bauchi.
“The doctor who is more experienced on examining her commenced treatment for ulcer based on the complaint of pain in the chest and lower abdomen. He also effected her immediate transfer to ATBUTH having assessed that her case should be referred to the hospital.
“Also her brother who came to Bauchi on being informed of the unfortunate incident equally said she had a history of health challenge of ulcer and that she was discharged from hospital in December 2018, after undergoing treatment.”
James noted further that the NYSC and Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Teaching Hospital encouraged the family to allow an autopsy to be carried out but it was declined in writing with appreciation for the efforts made to save her life.
On why there was no official statement by the NYSC officials on the death of the corps member during the closure of the orientation exercise, he said making a statement on it would be opening deep wounds.