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Whitney Adeniran: Chrisland tried to cover up cause of death — Father tells court

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The Lagos State government on Thursday tendered three documents in evidence against four employees of Chrisland Schools, charged with involuntary manslaughter of a 12-year-old student, Whitney Adeniran.

Ademoye Adewale, Kuku Fatai, Belinda Amao and Victoria Nwatu are standing trial on a two-count charge of involuntary manslaughter and reckless, negligent acts at the Ikeja Division of the Lagos High Court.

They pleaded not guilty.

Miss Whitney slumped and died during the school’s inter-house sports at Agege Stadium on February 9.

The director of public prosecutions, Babajide Martins, tendered the documents while leading Miss Whitney’s father, Adeyemi Adeniran, in evidence.

Justice Oyindamola Ogala admitted the documents in evidence as there was no objection from the defence counsel.

The documents are a medical report from Agege Central Hospital, a medical report from Inland Hospital, Lagos, and a printout of a screenshot of conversations from a Snapchat group page titled ‘Lagos Housewives’.

The deceased’s businessman father told the court that his daughter left home on February 9 hale and hearty for the school’s inter-house sports. He said his wife was at the inter-house sports but was not informed that her daughter had been taken to a hospital when the alleged incident occurred.

“My wife called me and said she was told that Whitney slumped and had been rushed to a hospital. She said that the principal of the school told her that Whitney was already coming up before she left for the hospital. I told my wife to go and check up on her at the hospital, and if need be, she should let me know so that I could be there,” Mr Adeniran explained. “After 10 minutes, she called back and said, ‘Start coming to Agege Central Hospital’.”

Miss Whitney’s father said further, “It took me about 45 minutes to locate the place because it could not be found on Google Maps. Eventually, when I arrived, I saw my wife by the roadside. She waved at me to stop. I got out of the car and told my personal assistant to leave the car on so as to quickly pick her (Whitney) up and take her to our family hospital at Ogudu. My wife told me to go inside and pray for my daughter; maybe she would wake up. I got inside. I saw her lifeless body on a table in a small room.”

The witness said he thought his daughter was given an injection and sleeping.

“In that room, I saw some teachers, so I went close to my daughter. I raised her up to my body, shouted and tapped her to wake up. I prayed, but nothing happened. I shouted. I tapped her severally, (but) nothing happened. I asked for the doctor of the facility. I knelt down before the doctor to do whatever she could to wake my daughter up, but she responded that there is nothing she could do,” Mr Adeniran told the court.

He quoted the doctor saying Miss Whitney was brought in dead.

“I stood up and went back to the room where she was laid while the school nurse was still standing close to her. I asked the nurse what happened to Whitney, and she told me she slumped,” stated Mr Adeniran. “She said my daughter died at the stadium before she was brought to the hospital, but she could not pronounce her dead because she was not a medical doctor.”

He told the court: “The doctor told me that she would advise me not to waste time in burying my daughter. She really persuaded me. The principal and the school nurse were present. She said I should make sure I bury her in time and not put her in a morgue and that I should not think of conducting any autopsy on her. I nearly agreed at a point because I did not know morgue, and I had never bought a coffin.”

He told the court that the day before her daughter’s death, he played with her, and she was hale and hearty.

“So I started asking myself why I should bury my daughter in a hurry without knowing what happened to her. The doctor told me to think of the money and the pain I would go through in the process of an autopsy, but I asked her, ‘What pain is worse than the death of a child?’”

Then, Mr Adeniran explained how he got some messages from her deceased daughter’s phone suggesting a cover-up attempt by Chrisland.

“Messages started dropping from her Snapchat group called ‘Lagos Housewives’. Some students sent messages there saying they knew the school would not tell the parents the truth,” Mr Adeniran narrated. “One of the students said, ‘We were there, and we saw what happened. She was electrocuted”. Another one said, ‘I saw Whitney on the iron rail close to the candy machine. The wire of the machine shocked like mad. She fell on the ground, started foaming in her mouth, and one stupid man came and started putting water on her.’”

He continued, “At that time, I remembered her black lips and black tongue I saw when I saw her lifeless body at the clinic,” and told the court that members of the school’s management came on a condolence visit and told the family not to go on social media.

“I spoke with the principal, and she told me that the cause of her death might have been a heart attack, but I do not believe her because the autopsy result says otherwise, and my suspicion was that it might have been an electrocution,” Miss Whitney’s father explained. “This is because I have seen people electrocuted.”

The judge adjourned the case until June 1 for the continuation of cross-examination of the witness.

(NAN)

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