Mr. Michael Adeniran, father of late Omodesola Whitney Adeniran, said his 12-year old daughter was not a sickly child until her death, he insisted that the student of Chrisland High School in Lagos died on February 9, 2023 during the school’s inter-house sports activities at the Agege Sports Stadium due to electrocution.
The first prosecution witness in his evidence in chief before Justice Oyindamola Ogala of the Lagos State High Court in Ikeja while being led by the State Prosecutor, Dr. Babajide Martins on Thursday.
According to him, “On the day of incident, February 9, my daughter left home in her usual way to school. It was the day for their inter-house sport at Agege Stadium. She left home very healthy, nothing was wrong with her.
“I have arrived my office, in the afternoon, the mother (my wife, Blessing Adeniran) called me that she was told at the stadium that Whitney slumped and she has been rushed to the hospital. She said she was at the stadium, she was informed after she has been taken to the hospital.
She said she was told by the principal that Whitney was already coming up before she was taking to the hospital.
After about 10 minutes she called, that I should come to Agege Central Hospital. “So immediately, I dropped everything I was doing, proceeded to Agege. It took me about 45 minutes to locate the place because it could not be found on Google map. Eventually when I arrived, I saw my wife by the road side, waved at me to stop. I got out of the car, I told my personal assistant to leave the car on so as to quickly pick her up. My wife told me to go inside and pray for my daughter maybe she will wake up. I got inside, I saw her lifeless body on a table in a small room.
“In my mind, I thought she was given injection, may be she was sleeping. In that room, I saw some teachers, so I went close to my daughter, I raised her up to my body, shouted, tapped her to wake up. I prayed and nothing happened. I shouted, I tapped her severally, nothing happened. I asked for the doctor of the facility, she was standing in a small room like a reception. I knelt down before the woman (Doctor) to do whatever she can do to wake my daughter up.
“She responded that there is nothing she can do, that she was brought in dead. I stood up and went back to the room she was laid down, the nurse was still standing close to her. I asked the nurse what happened to her?
“The school nurse said she slumped. She said she was already dilated, she was not breathing anymore. She said that, she already died at the stadium before she was brought to the hospital. But she cannot pronounce her death, because she is not a medical doctor. So I said you only brought her to pronounce her dead. She said yes. After that, the doctor in charge of the clinic came to me and said they need to wrap her up so that microbe will not enter her body and begin to swell up. The doctor said she needed some money, so I gave her N8,000.00. She later came back and said she needed more money, I gave her N7000 at that point, I called some of my friend that leave close to that Agege Central Hospital. In a shot time, they all arrived, they asked if I have reported the case to the police officially. So, they left for police station. As soon as they left to police station, the doctor at the hospital came to me and said she would like to see me in private.”
The doctor told me that she will advice me not to waste time to bury my daughter, she really persuaded me. The principal there and the school nurse. She said I should make sure I bury her on time and not put her in morgue and not to say I want to conduct examination. At that point, I nearly agreed at a point, I don’t even know of any morgue.”
He added that before the day of the incident, “We played together, she never complained, I remember when I came from Abuja, I even gave her soft drink. The following day, there was no complain of ill health. So I started telling myself why should I bury my daughter in a hurry without knowing what happen to her.?”
“She said the money and the pain I will go through in the process of autopsy. I told her what other pain is the worst to a death of a child and how much money will I spend to bring her back alive. I said I much get a closure of what happened.”
The father of the deceased further told Justice Ogala that, it was at that point he called his friend at Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, LASUTH.
“That night, we took her body to LASUTH around 7:00pm. The second day we got back to LASUTH, I met the pathologist, he advised that if we want to do autopsy, that we should write petition and coroner paper. So I left to Panti and I asked my lawyer to write the petition to the Commissioner of Police, which we did.”
He also told court that he persuaded his wife to sleep since she has not been sleeping since incident happened. “As she was about to sleep, she heard a sound from Whitney’s phone. She doesn’t know the password but her sister, Amaka knows the password. So she open the phone and on her school snap chat group called ‘Lagos House Wives’.
He explained to the court that some of the students sent messages there that they know the school will not tell the parent the truth. He told the court that one of the students wrote, “We are there and we saw what happened, she was electrocuted. Another one said, she saw Whitney on the iron rail close to the cotton candy machine that she want to buy. The wire of cotton candy bursted and Whitney was shocked like mad, she fell on the ground, started foaming in her mouth and one stupid man came and started putting water on her.”
The prosecution therefore tendered the print out of the snap chat. He further told court how school management came for condolence visit and told the family not to go on social media.
He said, “When a condolence visit was paid to my family, I inquired for the cause of death of my child.
He said he asked, “What killed Whitney?
Explaining that Mrs. Amao, the school principal said that they have a witness that Mr. Kuku witnessed the entire incident.
He added that the said Mr. Kuku stood up and said, “I saw her going down, she was holding an iron rail. I quickly went to her, I did not allow her to fall down, I held her, through her armpit and made her to sit on the floor and I sprinkled water on her face and called on the school nurse that came and performed Cardiopulmonary resuscitation, CPR, and took her from there to the hospital.”
He explained further that one of the sons of the owner of the school, Mrs. Awosika apologised over the incident. Adeniran told the judge that the son of the owner of the school whom he said he could not recall his name said, “We are very sorry, when he heard the issue, he was very terrified and that he also has female children of the same age.”
The first prosecution witness, continued that he was encouraged to do an autopsy, while another member of the team asked, “Hope you people have not put this on social media?
Mr. Adeniran said it was at that point their family got angry, asking that if they are not present to discuss anything reasonable they can leave.
He added that the school’s management left at that point.
The deceased’s father explained he posted about the incident on the social media thereafter. In his words, “After 20 minutes of posting the information on social media, a lot of people were commenting saying, why are you saying your child was electrocuted, that my child was sickly.
Recall that the management of Chrisland School Limited and four staff are standing trial for alleged involuntary manslaughter and reckless and negligent acts.
The defendants; Ademoye Adewale, Kuku Fatai, Mrs. Belinda Amao, Nwatu Ugochi Victoria, and Chrisland School Limited -1st to 5th defendants respectively were docked before Justice Ogala on March 30, 2023.
During the proceeding, the father also narrated that his child was reported sick on January 20, 2023, and took her to their family doctor, where she was examined. He said the doctor asked his daughter how she was feeling.
The deceased’s father explained that his daughter told the medical practitioner she was having an anxiety, upon which he prescribed some drugs to be taken by her.
The state prosecutor further queried if he has evidence that his child was brought in dead to the Agege Central Hospital, he tendered some documents which the judge admitted as exhibits, comprising signed medical reports by the family doctor and Agege Central Hospital doctor.
The father of the deceased described the private hospital, Agege Central Hospital, where his child was taken as a slum.
According to him, “The first statement I asked is who brought my daughter to this place?
He said the principal visited his house unannounced on the 1st of March, 2023 in the morning and said, “Daddy Whitney, we are sorry about what happened.
Under cross examination by counsel to the first defendant, Mrs. Bimpe Ajegbomojoh, the witness insisted that nothing was wrong with his child whom he took to the hospital in January and that the doctor after examining her said she probably needs some rest.
Speaking on one of the exhibits before the court, the father claimed those screen shots are from the snap chats of the deceased.
He added that be did not believe the narration of the school on the cause of death, noting that he suspected electrocution.
Mrs. Ajegbomojoh asked the witness series of questions,”Mr. Adeniran, will you be surprised that as at the time Whitney fell, the cotton candy machine had not been powered?
Mr. Adeniran replied that he will be surprise. She asked, “Will you be surprised that Whitney fell six to nine metres away to where the cotton candy machine was placed?
The witness answered, “I will be surprise, adding that he will be surprised that other people including attendees were passing through the spot at the time Whitney fell.
He said he was not personally present during the autopsy, but had Dr. Keshi, a private pathologist who represented him at the autopsy carried out by LASUTH.
He was also asked if the first defendant Mr. Ademoye Adewale had a representative at the autopsy, which he stated that he had no idea about.
Thereafter, counsel to the second defendant, Chief Richard Ahonaruogho (SAN), tried to counter the witness evidence by asking “Do you know this man (pointing to Mr. Kuku)? your only contact was because he was part of the delegation of the management who visited you for condolence of your daughter? He replied in the affirmative.
Ahonaruogho asked him, “On the 9th of February, 2023, your daughter left home with her phone, I did not know, but I later saw the phone at home in my room on February 11.
When asked that he signed a permission for his child to go to an Inter-house sports, he replied, “I signed a permission to go, not to go to Inter-house sports to die.”
Querying him further, “On that Friday, your daughter told you she’s having a feeling of anxiety, do you know the meaning of that? The witness said, “I don’t know and I have not tried to find out, what caused anxiety.
Taking him up on the treatment administered by his family doctor to the child on January 20 when she was said to be ill, the lawyer asked, “Do you know Nitrazepam, Afieriptylia and …, and have you found out the side effects of what that means even after your daughter died? He said; “No”
He answered further, “I don’t even know their names. It was prescribed by the doctor to give her. He also responded that he was surprise to hear from the lawyer that those drugs where not for young children at all and that over 75 per cent of children given these drugs have died.
The father said he was willing to bring the phone exhibit too.
The defendants were charged to court on a two-count offence bordering on involuntary manslaughter and reckless and negligent acts contrary to Sections 224 and 251 of the Criminal Law, C17, Vol.3, Laws of Lagos State filed by the Lagos State Government.
At arraignment the defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Justice Ogala adjourned till June 1, 2023 for further hearing.