Chrisland School will remain closed over student’s death as Lagos schools reopen after elections break.
NewsOnline understands that when students in Nigeria return to schools on Monday after the 25 February presidential and national assembly elections, those of the Chrisland High School, Ikeja, Lagos, would remain at home, the Lagos State Government (LASG) has insisted.
The decision by the government is a result of the unending controversies trailing the death of a 12-year-old student of the school, Whitney Adeniran.
The student died during the school’s inter-house sports, in February. The event was held at a public facility, a Lagos State-owned mini-stadium located in the Agege area of the city.
The report contradicted the earlier claim by the management of the school that the deceased only slumped and died.
But the government has reassured the public that “anybody found culpable would immediately be charged to court.”
School to remain shut
The Lagos State Commissioner for Education, Folasade Adefisayo, in a press statement issued Saturday, said without prejudice to the criminal proceedings, the decision to shut the school is to “further interrogate endangerment of students and other concerns.”
“We once again, commiserate with the family of the deceased even as we reassure Lagosians that anyone found culpable in this case will be held accountable in accordance with the law,” she noted.
The controversies surrounding the student’s death have lingered since February. While the parents accused the school of negligence, the school denied any wrongdoing, saying its officials took appropriate steps to save the deceased when she “slumped” at the stadium.
Meanwhile, an autopsy report dated 1 March that was confirmed by the parents and the LASG revealed that the student died from “asphyxia and electrocution”.
LASG on Saturday also condemned the alleged plans to exhume the student’s corpse for another autopsy, noting that it would oppose such a request.
Steps taken by LASG
Mrs Adefisayo highlighted the steps the Lagos government has taken in response to the reports of the death of Miss Adediran, noting that the state’s joint task force in charge of the implementation of the Safeguarding and Child Protection Policy, which comprises ministries, departments and agencies, including the ministries of Youth and Social Development, Education, Office of Education Quality Assurance, Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Agency and Lagos State Safety Commission, embarked on various fact-finding visits.
The statement further stated: “Officials visited the school premises and Agege Stadium, the venue of the inter-house sports activities. A condolence visit was made to Whitney’s family, to commiserate with them and reassure them of the State Government’s’ commitment to ensuring we unravel the facts surrounding the unfortunate incident.
“The school was also closed to students since the incident borders on the safety of children. The closure equally paved the way for unhindered investigation and afforded all stakeholders, including parents, students, staff and friends of the deceased, time to grieve”.
The commissioner further noted that “in view of the circumstances surrounding the death of the child, the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice immediately ordered for a coroner’s inquest into the matter to ascertain the cause of death”.
She added that a team led by the Director-General Office of Education Quality Assurance, who had a meeting with the school management on 14 February 2023, discovered lapses in the schools’ adherence to child safeguarding policies as regards the planning of the inter-house sports and aftermath of the unfortunate incident.
She said that the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) conducted the autopsy on 15 February 2023 by the Consultant Pathologist, LASUTH, Sunday Soyemi in the presence of Samuel Keshinro and Mr Oyewole, the Consultant Pathologists representing the family of the deceased Chrisland Schools respectively.
Mrs Adefisayo noted that given the findings of the autopsy report, which revealed the cause of death as asphyxia and electrocution, the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice directed that the Directorate of Public Prosecutions issues Legal Advice on the matter.
“On 2 March 2023, the Commissioner, Ministry of Education led a delegation to commiserate with Whitney’s family and to directly convey Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s commitment to ensuring justice for Whitney,” she added.