Inquest into Whitney Adeniran’s death, billed for 4 April

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Lagos State Commissioner for Education, Folasade Adefisayo

The Coroner Inquest set up to investigate the actual cause of the death of Whitney Adeniran, the 12 year-old Chrisland International School pupil who died on Thursday 9 February, has been fixed for 4 April for the preliminary hearing to commence. Magistrate Olabisi Fajana fixed the date after entertaining submissions from all the counsels that appeared before the Magistrate Court sitting at Ikeja, Lagos.

The counsel to the deceased family, Mr Femi Falana (SAN), had informed the court that they were unable to file a witness statement as instructed by the court at the last adjourned date. Falana told the court that the Magistrate Registry refused to process enrolling of the witness’ statement, on the grounds that there was no provision for filing of the Coroner’s processes. 

The counsel for Chrisland School, Mr Olukayode Enitan (SAN), and the state counsel, Mr Akin George, also corroborated the position of Falana, seeking the court`s directives as to how to get their processes filed. Fajana informed the counsels that she would get directives from the Chief Magistrate on how to ensure that the processes were filed before the Coroner. Enitan informed the court that he had an application before it, seeking to get samples and materials to carry out an independent evaluation of the autopsy report.

In a counter-reaction, Falana who said that they had not yet been served told the court that the autopsy of the deceased was done in the presence of the school representatives and other concerned parties. 

However, the state counsel, George, told the court that what the state received was a letter, not an application, and the state would respond at the appropriate time. Fajana, thereafter adjourned the commencement of trial until 4 April 2023, and advised all counsels to ensure that their processes were filed and confirmed by 3 April 2023. It will be recalled that it was a very emotional scene, on Thursday 2 March, when Whitney Adeniran who it was said died during her school’s inter-house sports activities at Agege Stadium, Lagos State, was laid to rest. Whitney’s parents said she was hale and hearty the morning she was taken in her school bus to the venue of the sporting event, but she died suddenly at the stadium. 

The school management, in a statement released after her death, said she slumped in “public view and not under any hidden circumstances.” She was rushed to the nearest medical facility for first aid. “Our immediate response was to take advantage of proximity to first aid, by identifying the nearest medical facility to take her to, where the doctor on duty, administered oxygen and every aid possible on her,” the school stated.

This came after a viral video showing Whitney’s mother calling for justice and asking Chrisland to explain what happened to her daughter. It was also reported that Whitney’s father took to social media on Saturday night to demand a probe into the death of his daughter, calling on the Lagos State Government and the police to intervene in the matter. He also demanded that Chrisland should explain what actually happened to his daughter, insisting that she had no health condition or sickness as of the time the school bus picked her up for the event. He said his daughter died of electrocution. Dr. Michael Adeniran made the claim in an interview with the BBC Pidgin the following Sunday.

Blessing Adeniran, the mother of the deceased, also said the autopsy conducted on her daughter, revealed that Whitney was electrocuted. Adeniran, who disclosed this in a live Instagram video, lamented that the school made her go through trauma by having an autopsy conducted on her late daughter. 

She said: “My daughter was butchered for autopsy. She was opened up. They took part of her kidney, liver, stomach contents, blood, brain, and bone marrow. Omodesola was butchered just because Chrisland kept protecting its reputation. The autopsy result is out and Desola was electrocuted. My daughter died of electrocution. I have been subjected to trauma for the past two weeks. Tomorrow will be three weeks since my baby died. The school made me think I am crazy. They started pushing the narrative of she was sick; she was sickly. They sent letters and publications out. People insulted my family and me. My child was electrocuted to death. I told the school I don’t want trouble. All I want is answers. They came to my house and knelt down.”

“I begged, I pleaded. I said ‘Mrs. Amao please! I don’t know how an autopsy is being done but I have browsed it and the image is scary. Please my daughter is already dead, don’t make me put her through that, they will butcher her. I beg you in the name of God, you are a mother, help me investigate and find out what happened. She said she doesn’t know. They refused to investigate. Omodesola was butchered just because Chrisland kept protecting their reputation.”

But responding to journalists who wanted to know more about what actually happened, spokesperson for Lagos State Police Command, Benjamin Hundeyin, said the autopsy result was not out: “I don’t know why she’s saying what she said.”

The Lagos State government ordered the closure of Chrisland School in Opebi, Ikeja, following the death of Whitney Adeniran. This came amidst the allegations that Whitney Adeniran was electrocuted which runs differently from other claims that she slumped and died during the school’s inter-house sports.

In a statement released to the press on Sunday, 12 February 2023, the Lagos State Commissioner for Education, Folasade Adefisayo, said the school would remain shut pending the outcome of a full investigation. The commissioner expressed condolences to the loved ones and acquaintances of the deceased and offered prayers for her soul to rest in peace. He urged for calm and guaranteed that a thorough investigation into the matter would be conducted without any compromise. “No effort will be spared in investigating the incident,” the Commissioner for Education, Folasade Adefisayo assured an anxious public.

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