The Lagos State Government on Sunday declared that the Chrisland International School will remain shut as investigation into the death of a pupil of the school, Whitney Adeniran, was still ongoing.
We reported that the pupil died during the school’s inter-house sports competition at the Agege Stadium, in the Agege Local Government Area of the state.
The News Agency of Nigeria quoted the state government as stating that the continued closure of the school after the death of the 12-year-old pupil was to further investigate the alleged endangerment of pupils and others.
“The closure of the school paved the way for unhindered investigation and afforded all stakeholders, including parents, students, staff and friends of the deceased, time to grief,’’ the state Commissioner for Education, Folashade Adefisayo, stated.
She added, “In view of the circumstances surrounding the death of the child, the Lagos State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice ordered a coroner’s inquest into the matter to ascertain the cause.
“The Lagos State University Teaching Hospital conducted the autopsy on February 15. It was conducted by Prof. Sunday Soyemi, Consultant Pathologist, LASUTH, in the presence of Dr Samuel Keshinro, Consultant Pathologist, representing the deceased’s family, and Dr Olugbenga Oyewole, Consultant Pathologist representing Chrisland Schools.
“The autopsy report, dated March 1, revealed the cause of death as asphyxia and electrocution. The Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice consequently directed that the Directorate of Public Prosecutions issue legal advice on the matter. Without prejudice to the criminal proceedings, the school will remain shut to further interrogate the endangerment of students and others.”
Adefisayo added that team from the Office of Education Quality Assurance also had a meeting with the management of the school to ascertain adherence to child safeguarding policies.
“The meeting examined the planning of the inter-house sports event and the aftermath of the unfortunate incident. It was discovered that there were lapses,” she said in the statement.
The commissioner added that a government delegation visited the family of the deceased on March 2 to commiserate with them.
She reassured all that anyone found culpable in the death of Whitney would be made to face the law, adding that government agencies had started fact-finding visits also to Agege Stadium, Lagos, the venue of the inter-house sports competition.
Meanwhile, contrary to claims that the school demanded that the pupil’s corpse be exhumed for another autopsy after the result of the earlier one released by the government revealed that the pupil died of asphyxia and electrocution, the management of the school, in a statement on Sunday, refuted the claim.
Describing the claim as insensitive, the school, in the statement, assured the public that it had no such plans.
“We hereby vehemently refute the claim making the rounds that Chrisland School intends to exhume Whitney’s body.
“We have no such plan and assure the public that we are also parents in mourning and will not do or subscribe to anything that paints such insensitive optics that prevents our dear daughter from resting,” the statement read.
Rather than dialogue on any exhumation, the school said it was planning to honour the memory of Whitney by immortalising her “so she can remain indelible in our consciousness.”
It noted that the decision to immortalise Whitney’ was without “prejudice to the ongoing coroner’s inquest but it is an honour we owe her.”
Chrisland also disclosed that it insisted on coroner’s inquest because it had total trust in the investigation process, noting that this would help expunge all insinuation of cover-up and to guard against future occurrences.
Whilst apologising for what it described as sending “unbearably quiet signals” to the public and other stakeholders, the school promised to continue to cooperate with the authority to allow investigations to take their entire course.