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The family of Benard Nifemi Asefon, a student of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, (LAUTECH) Ogbomoso, Oyo State, were looking forward to his return home, spend some time with them after eight years at LAUTECH, before embarking on the mandatory one-year National Youth Service scheme and then do something meaningful with his life, but all that now is a mirage.

Benard Asefon, a student of Animal Nutrition and Biotechnology, was said to have jumped from an electric pole and fell on a septic tank which caved in and he sank into the pit.

One of the students said: “I heard that he lived in the hostel since his pre-degree programme days. There was electricity supply in the area but the hostel was in darkness. He thus decided to climb the pole to change the switch for them to have electricity. He had changed the power source and I heard that he jumped down from the pole. I don’t know what made him to jump down, maybe the ladder shifted and he jumped off in order not to fall. But he landed on a septic tank beside the fence, the cover broke and he fell inside.

“The thing is that nobody immediately saw what happened to him. It was after a while that some people knew what happened to him. How to pull him out of the pit became difficult. They placed a ladder inside the tank but he was said to have been too weak to climb and come out. Somebody later went inside and brought him out and he was taken to the LAUTECH Teaching Hospital. They said he was not attended to at the hospital and that was what was why students when on the rampage the following day.”

Dr Kayode Ogunleye, the Registrar of LAUTECH, said in a statement: “It has just come to the notice of the university management that a 500-level graduating student of the Department of Animal Nutrition and Biotechnology, Asefon Nifemi Benard, died off-campus yesterday, April 22, 2021.

“In sympathy with the student, friends and family, the university management hereby declared today, Friday April 23, 2021 as lecture free-day, while any lectures or tests that might have been conducted earlier today will be declared null and void.

“Management further appeals to students not to take laws into their hands. Appropriate steps will be taken to further get the facts surrounding the death of the students. Once again, management commiserates with the students, family and friends of the deceased. Meanwhile, the university administration has taken steps to take care of the burial of the deceased and convey his corpse to the family.”

Speaking with our correspondent, the late student’s father, Mayomi, said “I was called by the Chaplain of St. Thomas More Catholic Chaplaincy, LAUTECH, Ogbomoso, Rev. Fr. Joseph Ogundipe. We are Catholics. He told me what happened and the next thing I wanted to do. I told them to bring his corpse home for burial. I made arrangements for a burial place. His corpse was brought and he was buried the second day.

“To say his mother was devastated is an understatement. I am just trying to remain strong so that my family will not be more badly affected than this. It had not been easy at all. He had completed the clearance in the school and we were expected that he would return home before the end of April after spending eight years in Ogbomoso. But God knows best. He was a committed member of the church. Even the Bishop of Catholic Diocese of Oyo, Most Reverend ”

“Emmanuel Badejo visited us to commiserate with us and pray for us. I called his friend who also lived in the same hostel with him for eight years. He spent eight years at LAUTECH. He entered through pre-degree. His course was supposed to be five years, but incessant strikes prolonged the duration of the course. COVID-19 lockdown also wasted almost one year but he eventually completed the programme and it sad the way the whole thing ended.

“I spoke with his friend and others and they told me the same story that he fell from an electric pole into a ditch. Although the death of someone close is always sad, I am happy that he was not a cult member or an armed robber. He died but he didn’t soil the name of the family. More than 500 people have come to commiserate with us in Akure since his death. We are based in Akure though I am from Oka Akoko, Ondo State.’’

“His death was purely an accident and I believe it was his time to go. So, we bless the name of the Lord. He always told me a day ahead if he wanted to travel.”

Reverend Father Ogundipe, said this about Bernard “Bernard was a good young man from a good home. He was very lively and always did things to make others comfortable. I had known him for five years. He was close to me but unfortunately, death snatched him from us. His set did their thanksgiving service in the church on March 7 after completing their programmes at the university. He met me after that and told me that he was planning to go into politics to teach others about service to the people and not using position for personal enrichment. I realize that he was always positive and ready to do something for others. His father even said so and as a Catholic, the father said he could have died the same day even if he was at home. It has not been easy but we thank God for their faith in Christ.”

On how Bernard died, the Reverend Father said: “He climbed a pole to change the source of electricity supply to the hostel because the hostel doesn’t have a changeover switch. After doing that, he jumped down and landed on a septic tank and sank into the pit. Nobody saw him, but a guy named ThankGod saw him and raised the alarm. They struggled to rescue him for almost 20 minutes. A Good Samaritan, an okada rider, saw how they were making efforts to rescue him and he volunteered to enter the pit. They tied a rope around his waist and he jumped inside to bring him out.

“He was cleaned up and was saying, ‘Please, save my life.’ He walked a bit and still able to talk. Many things happened and we heard that they couldn’t get an ambulance from the school to take him to the hospital on time. The students said the doctor on duty was not around but it was another doctor who saw them and rushed to attend to them. That doctor, they said, had obviously seen that he could not make it and asked to see the Dean of Students’ Affairs.

“By the time they got through to the DSA, they said it was then he told him that they did not have oxygen to support him to breathe. The students knew it was a bad case but they wanted him to be attended to and probably he could still make it. It was after that they knew there was no oxygen that they took him to Bowen Teaching Hospital and they attended to him promptly but after about three minutes, they told them that he had passed away.”

“The message we keep passing to our students who are medical students is that their main duty is to save lives. But it must be stated that the school was not at fault. The university came to offset the expenses. They paid for the mortician, casket and other things. The chaplaincy had paid but they refunded us. The Dean of Students’ Affairs despite observing Ramadan did very well.

“I will tell the students and everybody again like the bishop always says that ‘in every aspect of our life, there are inherent dangers.’ The degree of the dangers differs. We tell them that they should remember their parents, the agony they would be thrown into if they die. If the owner of the hostel or the caretaker had installed a switch there, there would be no need to climb the pole. If he didn’t climb, maybe he might not have died. But there is nothing we can do to bring him back to life and we pray God will uphold the family.’’

The Head of Department, Prof. Vincent Ashaolu, who supervised Asefon’s final year project, has this to say about him: “He was like my adopted son. I supervised his project. If one gave him an assignment, one could go to bed and be sure that the assignment would be perfectly well. He knew what he wanted and he was going for it. He was somebody any parent would be proud to have as son. Though he was not a genius, he was an above average student and dependable. He was so much liked by his colleagues. His death almost threw the campus into turmoil. His colleagues are working to do something at the department in his memory so that anybody who comes there later would know that one Asefon was there.”

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