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Chrisland School: CEE-HOPE hails Lagos Government over indictment, demands stringent prosecution

The Center for Children’s Health Education, Orientation and Protection (CEE-HOPE), a child’s rights organization, has hailed the Lagos State Government over the recent outcome of its findings on the death of Whitney Adeniran, a student at Chrisland School in the state, which indicts the elite school and four of its staff.

CEE-HOPE also utilized the opportunity to call for stringent prosecution of the indicted school and their staff members.

It will be recalled that 12 year-old Miss Adeniran slumped and died during a school inter-house competition at the Agege Sports Stadium on February 9, 2023. While multiple sources claimed that she had died by electrocution, the school made contrary claims which made Whitney’s parents Michael and Blessing Adeniran to make several public appearances alleging cover-up by the school and calling for justice for their teenage daughter. An autopsy conducted by the state government later confirmed that the teenage girl indeed died from electrocution. She was buried on March 2, 2023.

In a recent development, the Lagos State office of the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP), publicized its legal advice following an investigation, which found the school guilty of manslaughter after which the school and four of its staff were arraigned.

According to media reports: ‘The Lagos State Government filed two counts of involuntary manslaughter, reckless and negligent acts against Chrisland School Limited over the death of a 12-year-old student, Whitney Adeniran, who died during the school’s inter-house sports activities in February. Chrisland alongside four others – Ademoye Adewale, Kuku Fatai, Belinda Amao and Nwatu Victoria – also staff of the school, before Justice Oyindamola Ogala of the Lagos High Court, Ikeja. The Director of Public Prosecution, Babajide Martins, filed the charges on behalf of the state government. He accused the school and its staff of negligently killing Whitney Adeniran by not ensuring her safety, adding that they all acted recklessly and negligently that endangered human life. ‘The offences, contrary to Sections 224 & 251 of the Criminal Law, C17, Vol.3, Laws of Lagos State, 2015, carry a penalty of life imprisonment and two-year jail terms respectively.’

Consequently, the Lagos State Government on March 30, 2023, arraigned Chrisland School Limited, its principal, vice principal and two other employees at the Lagos High Court, Ikeja o over Miss Adeniran’s death. That was before the shutting down of the arm of the school in Opebi Lagos where the victim attended and the recent reopening for JSS 3 and SS 3 exam-taking students of the school. Chrisland is one of Nigeria’s most elitist schools with branches in highbrow areas of Lagos and Abuja.

In a recent press statement in reaction to the development, CEE-HOPE’s Executive Director, Betty Abah, commended the Lagos State Government for the overall response to Miss Adeniran’s death which she described as tragic and completely preventable. She also called for stringent prosecution of the case to prevent further threat to young and vulnerable lives in the school and all other educational institutions across Lagos and beyond.

‘For several years now, Chrisland School has remained constantly in the news for the very wrong reasons, and reasons that are too scandalous for a school. I believe that this continues because they feel that as an elitist school with big financial powers and influence, they are above the law,’ she said. Abah recalled that the school was in the news for its male staff’s sexual molestation of a two-year-old (which later ended in the 60-year sentencing for the staff in 2019). In 2022, a group of students on an excursion in Dubai were involved in pornographic and sexually explicit activities which were uploaded online and went viral. In 2023, Miss Adeniran died under their care, followed by denials and cover-ups before the recent damning verdict from the DPP.’

‘It is quite concerning that in each of these cases, the first instinct of Chrisland School’s authorities was to cover up with wild lies, alibis and more cover-ups. It is always about their public image and the preservation of their business interests and never about the safety of the children under their duty of care and protection. This is completely unacceptable and they must be told in clear terms that their influence notwithstanding, they must operate under the ambits of Nigerian law. Indeed, the school must be placed under intense scrutiny.’

‘All eyes are on the Lagos State Government as far as this case is concerned. The ultimate outcome will send a strong message to all other schools in Lagos and across Nigeria where the safety, protection and overall welfare of children under their care are never a priority. It is also time to carefully scrutinize the operations of schools and ensure their safeguard standards are up-to-date and carefully adhered to,’ Abah added.