HomeNewsWhitney Adeniran: No Proof Lagos Safety Policy was Disseminated to Schools –...

Whitney Adeniran: No Proof Lagos Safety Policy was Disseminated to Schools – Witness

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A deputy director from the Lagos State Ministry of Youth & Social Development, Mr. Yakubu Abisogun, who began his testimony on Monday, in the case of the death of a Chrisland School student, Whitney Adeniran, continued his testimony today before the Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja.

Abisogun is testifying as the third prosecution witness before Justice Oyindamola Ogala in the trial of the principal and some staff members of Chrisland School Opebi, Lagos over the death of the 12-year-old student during the school’s inter house sports competition at the Agege Stadium on February 9, 2023.

While answering questions under cross examination today from the counsel to the second defendant, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Richard Ahonaruogho, the witness testified that he had no documents to show as proof that the state government safety policy was disseminated to concerned schools.

The witness also admitted that the committee’s fact-finding report was silent on the fact that Chrisland School had no Child Protection Officer.

In his testimony of Monday, March 11, the witness had spoken extensively about the Safeguarding and Child Protection Policy of the Lagos State government and indicted Chrisland School for violating the policy in its preparation for the school’s inter house sports competition.

The witness testified today that the implementation of the policy was the responsibility of the school assessment committee, including the Domestic and Sexual Violation Agency and the Ministry for Youth and Social Development.

The witness had first answered questions from counsel to the first defendant, Bimpe Ajegbomogun, who wondered why Agege Stadium or any of its representatives was not invited to the fact-finding meeting since this was where the incident occurred.

She also asked why the report of the meeting was silent on the involvement of the stadium, to which the witness simply replied that the Agege Stadium was not within his purview to interview.

On February 9, 2023, Chrisland School, Opebi, Lagos, organized an Inter-house Sports at the Agege Sports Stadium for its students and during the Inter-house Sports, one of the Students- Whitney Omodesola Adeniran aged 12 years was said to have been electrocuted.

A doctor, who examined her shortly after she was rushed to a nearby hospital, said she was brought in dead.

Speaking more about the duties of his office, the witness said, “It has to do with safeguarding and protecting and it is to identify risks and issues that can lead to risk, that could bring about harm to students in schools and could result to further harm and most importantly significant harm. And I do not agree that my office and ministry has failed woefully.”

“My duty is on 4 principles which are general well-being of children, consultation and transparency, early recognition and intervention.”

While answering questions under cross-examination from the second defence counsel, Richard Ahonaruogho (SAN), the witness also testified that the parents of the deceased student were not invited to the fact finding meeting as it was a meeting between the school management and the Safeguarding and Child Protection Alliance Group in the state which comprises all relevant agencies that render service to children in the state and ensures child safety.

Yakubu also reiterated that the management of the stadium was also not invited to the fact-finding meeting.

“The school’s consultant psychologist was also asked to excuse herself from the meeting because she did not identify herself as part of the school management,” the witness said.

Reading from the committee’s report, the witness reiterated that paragraph 4 of the report was correct when it stated that the parents of the deceased student were not contacted early enough about their daughter’s situation especially because the mother of the deceased student was right there at the stadium, the venue of the event but was not notified.

When asked if there was any requirement that schools should notify his ministry before holding their inter-house sports, the witness replied in the negative.

He was however quick to add that, “there is safety policy of the state that wherever you have over 250 people gathering at a place, there must be a safety clearance”.

The witness also testified that he did not find out from the parents of the late Whitney, what had happened to their child prior to the incident.

He said: “I visited the parents of the deceased to commiserate with them, but I do not know when the school contacted the parents.

“I do not rely on social media and my conclusion that the school was insensitive was not a lie.

“I would not be surprised that the absence of the deceased from school on January 20, 2023 was due to her being sick because it is not an issue to me.
“I am not a medical practitioner, so I do not know what anxiety panic attack is.”

The witness further said that he did not know if the parents of the deceased had a duty to inform the school that the deceased had a panic attack.
“The school is the custodian of the child, and they should have the biodata of the child.”

Justice Oyindamola Ogala has adjourned till March 21 for further cross examination of the witness.

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