Miss Eteng Odinke Sylvester, a final year student of Community Health of the College of Health Technology (COHTECH) in Calabar, the Cross River State capital, has been arrested by the police after she scalded her colleague with a mixture of hot water and pepper, following a disagreement.
Ethorti Uno suffered second-degree burn on the chest and thigh. He was rushed to Cottage Hospital in Akpet Central.
The incident happened penultimate Friday at Primary Healthcare Centre (PHC) in Abini, Biase Local Government Area, where Ethorti and Eteng were posted for their obligatory three-month rural practice in Community Health Extension Work (CHEW).
CAMPUSLIFE gathered that a quarrel broke out between them when Ethorti, a final year student and president of the Department of Community Health Extension Workers, corrected Eteng for a bad behaviour.
It was gathered that there had been complaints by workers in the healthcare centre about Eteng’s character since she started the three-month rural practice. She allegedly fought and insulted workers regularly. The management was said to be considering her ejection from the hostel provided by the healthcare centre for students on rural practice.
Ethorti advised Eteng to change her behaviour towards the healthcare centre’s workers. When they were separated, it was gathered that Eteng returned to her room to boil the water, which she poured on the victim.
Explaining what led to the incident, Ethorti, who spoke to CAMPUSLIFE from his sickbed, said: “I was among the batch of the students that went for rural practice in Abini. In the course of the programme, we were inundated with complaints from healthcare workers about one of our colleagues whose behaviour they tagged unprofessional.
“It turned out that it was Eteng they had been complaining about. Her conduct was disrespectful and against the ethics of Community Health Extension Work.
“We promised the healthcare workers that we would call Eteng to order. I called her as the president of our department. I was advising her against the misconduct, but Eteng attacked me and this resulted in a wrestling between the two of us. We were separated by other colleagues. Intentionally, she went inside her room and boiled water mixed with salt and pepper. She came out and poured the hot mixture of water on me.”
The college management sent an ambulance to the Abini Health Centre to bring Ethorti back to Calabar for medical attention in the school’s clinic.
Ethorti, it was learnt, declined the offer and refused to follow the school medical team who came to pick him. The student, it was learnt, said he preferred to be treated at Cottage Hospital in Akpet Central where his parents reside.
Eteng’s parents, it was gathered, have offered to pay Ethorti’s medical bill in a reconciliatory move.
Ethorti said: “I am presently receiving treatment at Cottage Hospital. I don’t want to go back to Calabar. Eteng’s parents have assured my parents that they would pay the medical bill for my treatment. They want us to settle the matter, but I told them they should allow me complete my treatment before approaching us for the matter to be resolved.”
The Head of Department, Dr Winifred Itam, while speaking with CAMPUSLIFE, described COHTECH as a ground for breeding professionals. She said the management expected staff and students to act professionally and employ codes of civility to address conflicts.
She said: “The department, as well as the management of the institution, is aware of the incident and appropriate sanctions are clearly spelt out in the school’s Code of Conduct for such behaviour. We will conduct our investigation and appropriate sanctions will be meted out to the culprit without fear or favour.”
Students and members of staff described Eteng’s action as bizarre, while condemning her for “embarrassing the school”. They want her to face “severe punishment” to serve as a deterrent to others.
At the time of this report, Eteng remained in the custody of Akpet Central Police Station. Efforts to speak with her were futile, as the Investigative Police Officer (IPO) in charge of the matter refused our reporter access to Eteng. The IPO asked CAMPUSLIFE to see the Cross River State Police Command spokesperson for further information about the matter