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The Lagos State Government has mandated the closure of Chrisland International School pending the outcome of the investigation into the circumstances leading to the death of a pupil, identified as Whitney Adeniran, who died during the school’s inter-house sports at Agege stadium, in the Agege area of the state.
The development was confirmed by the state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso, during a telephone conversation with a Punch correspondent on Sunday.
Omotoso said, “We are investigating the matter but as a first step, we are going to shut down the school (Chrisland) tomorrow (Monday) to allow for a full investigation.
“The Commissioner for Education, Mrs Folasadee Adefisayo, has spoken with the father of the child to sympathise with him and commiserate with the family.”
According to Punch, two narratives had been making waves regarding the circumstances that led to Whitney’s death during the school’s sporting activities at the stadium on Thursday, February 9, 2023.
Although some eyewitnesses, the school management and the doctor that attended to Whitney when she was rushed to hospital for treatment claimed that the 12-year-old pupil slumped and died of cardiac arrest, the pupil’s father, Michael, confirmed to the BBC Pidgin that his daughter was electrocuted.
Michael said, “She (Whitney) died from a naked wire from one cotton candy vendor machine. After she touched it, she was electrocuted immediately. I have documented evidence that my child died of electrocution and not cardiac arrest as Chrisland School claimed.”
Reports say that on the day of the inter-house sports, the school bus picked up Whitney and took her alongside other pupils to the Agege stadium for the inter-house sports.
In a bid to witness the event, Whitney’s mother, Blessing said she also visited the venue for the inter-house sports, adding that when the event commenced, she did not see her daughter among the pupils that participated in all the march-pasts organised by the school.
Worried by the development, Blessing, who was seen in a trending video shedding tears as she chronicled the circumstances surrounding her daughter’s death during the school’s sporting activities at the stadium, said she was trying to locate the whereabouts of her daughter when one of the pupils said she slumped and was rushed to hospital.
She said, “No ambulance, no doctor, no nurse, there was no emergency provision on the ground in a place where you have over 500 students and 100 parents. When the boy said the school bus took her (Whitney), I ran out and met a staff member coming towards me and he said Whitney fell. I said I learnt she fell and he said I should not worry, she would be fine and they have taken her to hospital.
“I called my husband and he said I should go to the hospital and that he would make a few calls and will meet me there. I asked the staff which hospital they took my daughter to and he said he would ask the principal who said they took her to the Agege Central Hospital.
“I brought my phone and put it on Google map and typed Agege Central Hospital and it was not showing, what I saw was Agege Central Mosque. I said ‘Ma, it is not showing’ and she said ‘don’t worry, just ask around and they will tell you.’ We drove out of the stadium to the gate and asked the gatemen and they didn’t know.”
The bereaved mother explained that when she finally located the hospital, she found her 12-year-old daughter dead, adding that her lips and tongue had turned black.
She said, “When we couldn’t locate the place, we decided to go to the Agege Central Mosque and on our way to the mosque, we saw the school bus packed, so we knew we were at the place. I jumped down from the car when we saw the school bus and rushed in.
“I saw the staff that went with her (Whitney) and I asked where my child was. Why did she faint? She (the staff) said ‘I don’t know, she’s in there.’ I went in there and I saw my daughter’s corpse, Desola (Whitney) didn’t say anything to me.
“She was drenched, soaked to the skin, water was dripping. I knelt, I called on God, I shouted, I screamed. I felt her pulse, there was no pulse. My daughter was silent. I asked the doctor what happened to my daughter and he said from the look of things, she suffered from cardiac arrest.”
Lamenting over the doctor’s, Blessing wondered how her 12-year-old daughter could suffer a cardiac arrest without any pre-existing heart condition or medical condition, adding that Whitney was hale and hearty when the school bus picked her up for the event.
“Let me state that by the time I got there, my daughter’s lips and tongue had already turned black. My child was not taken to a hospital, she was taken to an immunisation centre but that is not even my pain.
“My pain is there was no proper first aid management, there was nothing that was done for her; she was brought to the hospital dead,” Blessing said.
However, Michael had in a Facebook post, demanded a probe of the circumstances surrounding his daughter’s death and urged the Lagos State Government to intervene in the matter so justice could prevail.
His post read in part, “As a father, I demand answers from Chrisland International High School. I am in deep pain and sorrow right now. If you are a father, you will understand my pain.
“My daughter is highly loved by us. We cherished her existence and we can never allow an institution to gloss over the death of our daughter. Since we started asking this question, the school has been asking us to back down from the autopsy and I know they know their way into the system.
“I am calling on the pathology department of @lasuth to please be honest with their result. Lagos State Government, Nigeria Government, please intervene.”
The management of Chrisland Schools Limited reacting in a statement, commiserated with Whitney’s family as it described the pupil’s death as a painful loss.
The statement said, “We are heartbroken and distressed. Whitney was one of our day students who opted not to participate in the inter-house sports match past for reasons we were not very sure of.
“However, on discretion, we respected her decision to err on the side of caution, because, on January 20, 2023, it is in our records that she had complained about not-too-buoyant health and we immediately contacted her parents. Her father, Mr Michael Adeniran, came to the school to take her home. We emphasised to her parents to take a critical look at her.”
Stressing that Whitney slumped in public view and not under any hidden circumstances, the school said in a bid to rescue her, she was rushed to the nearest medical facility.
The management further said, “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 to her.
“We immediately notified regulatory stakeholders and agencies to allow for a comprehensive evaluation and assessment of the developments.
“As we await the outcome of an independent post-mortem process, we remain unwaveringly committed to supporting the family at this critical moment and pray fervently for the fortitude to bear her painful loss,” the statement said in part.
The state Police Public Relations Officer, Benjamin Hundeyin, when contacted said an investigation into the case was ongoing, adding that the command was yet to ascertain Whitney’s cause of death.
Hundeyin said, “The investigation is ongoing but the real reason behind her death is not yet ascertained, when it is ascertained, I will let you know. I don’t want to listen to hearsay”