Chris Land School, Staff Members Charged With Manslaughter Over Whitney Adeniran
The Lagos State government has arraigned Chrisland School Limited, and some of its staff members over the death of a 12-year-old student, Whitney Omodesola Adeniran, who died during the school’s inter-house sport on the 9th February, 2023.
They were all arraigned before Justice Oyindamola Ogala of the Lagos High Court, Ikeja on a two-count charge of involuntary manslaughter, and acting in a reckless and negligent manner that endangered her life.
The affected staff are the principal, Belinda Amao, the Vice Principal, Nwatu Victoria, and a teacher in the school, Kuku Fatai.
The other defendant is a vendor at the Agege Stadium, Ademoye Adewale.
The Attorney General & Commissioner of Justice, Lagos, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Moyosore Onigbanjo, who led the prosecution on behalf of the State Government told the court that the state had filed two count counts against the defendants.
He asked the court to allow them to take their plea.
When the counts were read to the defendants, they all pleaded not guilty. The school principal, Belinda Amao, wept loudly while in the dock.
The Attorney General also informed the court that the state had lined up seventeen witnesses to testify against the defendant.
He asked the court for a date to enable the prosecution open trial.
The defence team on its part informed the court that they had pending applications seeking the bail of all the defendants.
The lawyers subsequently took turns moving their bail applications.
The Attorney General had no objections to the applications. He, however, urged the court not to grant bail on self recognizance and to ensure to grant conditions that would guarantee that the defendants show up for their trial.
The court subsequently took a short break to write its ruling on bail.
In her ruling, Justice Oyindamola Ogala granted the principal and vice principal of Chrisland School, Belinda Amao, and Nwatu Ugochi Victoria, bail in the sum of N20m each with two sureties in the sum of N10m each.
The other two defendants were granted bail in the sum of 10m each with two sureties in like sum pending the hearing and determination of the charge against them.
The court also ruled that the sureties must be residents within the jurisdiction of the court and their financial status and address must be credible and verifiable.
All defendants must also provide evidence of payment of tax for the last three years as well as deposit their international passport with the registrar of the court.
Parties in the matter have also agreed that the trial will continue after the Easter holidays. The court adjourned till May 25, June 1, 8, and 15 for the commencement of trial.
On the 9th of February, 2023, Chrisland School, Ikeja, organized an inter-house sport at the Agege Sports Stadium for its students, and during the event, Whitney was electrocuted.
Indeed, a nine-paged autopsy report conducted at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Ikeja put the cause of death asphyxia and electrocution.
When she slumped at the event, she was given first aid by the nurse on standby and was subsequently rushed to Agege Central Hospital, Agege, Lagos where she was confirmed dead by the doctor on duty.
The two-count charge which was filed on behalf of the state government by the Director of Public Prosecution, DPP, Dr. Jide Martins disclosed that the defendants all negligently killed Whitney by not ensuring her safety.
The charge also disclosed that they all acted in a reckless and negligent manner that endangered human life.
The offences are contrary to Sections 224 & 251 of the Criminal Law, C17, Vol.3, Laws of Lagos State, 2015
If found guilty, they carry a penalty of life imprisonment and two-year jail terms.
A bevy of senior lawyers, including three senior advocates on Thursday stormed an Ikeja High court to defend Chrisland School, Opebi as Lagos State arraigned four members of staff of the school on charges of involuntary manslaughter, recklessness, negligent acts over the death of a pupil of the school, late Whitney Adesola Adeniran.
The late Adeniran, according to post mortem reports died of asphixia and electrocution on February 9, at Agege Stadium, Lagos during the annual inter house sport activities of the school.
The Lagos State government team led by the Attorney General, Mr Moyosore Onigbanjo, and the Director of Public Prosecutions(DPP), Dr Babajide Martins arraigned Chrisland Schools, three staff members and a vendor before Justice Oyindamola Ogala of Ikeja High Court on Thursday.
The 1st to 5th defendants include Ademoye Adewale, Kuku Fatai, Belinda Amao, Nwatu Ugochi Victoria, and Chrisland School Limited.
Three senior advocates, Chief Bolaji Ayorinde, Olukayode Enitan, Chief Richard Ahonaruogho, led the team of the defence lawyers which also included Ademola Animashaun, Bimpe Ajegbomojoh, while Oluwatodimu Ige held a watching brief for the family of the deceased pupil.
The defendants were arraigned on a two-count charge offence bordering on involuntary manslaughter and reckless and negligent acts contrary to Sections 224 & 251 of the Criminal Law, C17, Vol.3, Laws of Lagos State filed by the state.
They all pleaded not guilty to the two count charge brought against them by the state.Following their not guilty plea, Onigbanjo informed the court that the prosecution has lined up 17 witnesses to prove its case against the defendants.
He prayed the court for a date to open his case against the defendants.
Counsel to the first defendant informed the court that they have filed application for bail for the first defendant who she said has been in custody since February.
Following grant of permission to move the bail application, she prayed the court for bail in liberal terms and that that would allow the 1st defendant to be coming from home for trial.
The prosecution confirmed service of bail applications of 1st and 3rd defendants and having been obliged with copies of applications for bail for 2nd and 4th defendants in court.Onigbanjo told the court that the prosecution was not opposed to the various bail applications but added that the terms should be such that would make the defendants come for trial.
Responding, the defense counsels informed the court that all the defendants, except the first defendant, were not in custody but came to court from their different homes.
Justice Ogala granted bail to the 1st and 2nd defendants in the sum of N10 million each with two sureties in like sum while the 3rd and 4th defendants were granted bail in the sum of N20 million each also with two sureties in the sum of N10 million each.
She ordered that all the sureties must reside within jurisdiction of the court, provide proof of financial status and three years tax payment to state government while they must deposit their international passport with the registrar of the court.
She further ordered that the residences of the sureties must be verified.There was a mild drama in the course of trial as the 3rd defendant, Mrs. Belinda Amao, broke down in tears. The defendant who had difficulty going through the exercise had to be pacified by her colleagues before trial could resume.
Justice Ogala adjourned trial till May 25, April 1, 8, and 15.
Whitney Adeniran slumped on February 9 during the Inter-house Sports organised by the School and held at the Agege Sports Stadium.
She was rushed to Agege Central Hospital, Agege, Lagos, where she was confirmed as “brought in dead” (BID) by the doctor on duty.