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Whitney Adeniran: Chrisland School Had No Permit To Hold Sports Competition – Witness



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Lagos State Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Dr. Babajide Martins, called his fourth witness, Wahab Ariyo during proceedings on Thursday.

A photo combination a gavel, the Chrisland Schools logo, and a section of the school premises

An official of the Lagos State Safety Commission has told the State High Court sitting in Ikeja that the management of Chrisland Schools Opebi, failed to obtain an event permit from the government agency before holding its sports competition.

Mr Wahab Ariyo, a safety officer with the commission, who testified as the fourth prosecution witness in the trial of the school for negligence in the death of one of its students, Whitney Adeniran, also disclosed that the school failed to take a compulsory risk assessment test.

In March 2023, the Lagos State Government filed a 2-count charge of involuntary manslaughter and reckless and negligent acts against Chrisland School Limited and four others over the death of its 12-year-old Whitney.

The affected staff are the principal, Mrs Belinda Amao; the Vice Principal, Nwatu Victoria, and a teacher in the school, Kuku Fatai. The other defendant, Ademoye Adewale, is a cotton candy vendor at the Agege Stadium, the venue of the school’s inter-house sports competition.

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On February 9, 2023, Chrisland School Opebi organised an inter-house sports competition at the Agege Sports Stadium for its students. One of its students, the late Whitney was said to have been electrocuted at the venue.

At the resumption of the proceedings on Thursday before trial judge, Justice Oyindamola Ogala, the Lagos State Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Dr. Babajide Martins, called his fourth witness, Wahab Ariyo.

Ariyo introduced himself as an engineer and safety officer with the Lagos State Safety Commission.

He told the court that his duty in the office involved responding to emergencies in the state, and investigating accidents and incidents to uncover the root and immediate causes.

In relation to the instant charge, the witness told the court that the commission conducted investigations to ascertain the root cause of the fatality and to make recommendations to avoid further occurrence.

Ariyo told the court that it is important for schools and public events having 250 guests or more to obtain an Event Safety Permit. He said the permit can be obtained by visiting the commission’s website to register an event.

After this, the commission would give the requirements of the things to be put in place, to avoid accidents or emergencies at such events.

“Once we carry out risk assessment and all requirements are met, we then issue a permit,” he said.

“On the day of the event, the commission sends out marshals from its office to ensure that all safety conditions are in place.”

The witness also testified that for events with over 250 guests, there were further protocols such as ensuring the availability of ambulances, first aiders, and firefighting equipment.

On the Chrisland School fatality, he told the court that the commission became aware of the incident on February 13, 2023, and promptly visited the scene at the Agege Stadium.

He explained that the visit was to ascertain what went wrong, adding that on arrival, the commission discovered that most of the evidence had been tampered with.

On account of this, Ariyo said the team took photos and interrogated the school management and those who witnessed the event.

The witness said that fortunately for the team, there was another school hosting its inter-house sports at the same Agege stadium. He said this presented an opportunity to have feedback on what happened as there were vendors at the scene.

His findings at the scene revealed that the school “failed to obtain an event permit” from the Lagos Safety Commission, adding that no risk assessment was conducted.

He also noted that there was no ambulance coupled with a poor emergency management system, poor emergency communication; no retainership hospital close to the venue.

He also told the court that a second visit made to the scene by the commission was solely to ascertain the claim by the school that the candy machine was not close to the event scene.

The witness said that this visit showed that the candy machine was indeed close to the scene.

“We also discovered that no restrictions were made to the vendors using power generating sets and as a result, there was the possibility of straying wires dangling around. So, that confirmed our initial findings that no risk assessment was done,” he said.

The witness further told the court that if the same had been done earlier, all safety infractions would have been noticed and recommendations made to close the gaps.

“Our findings revealed that a school bus was used instead of an ambulance, which should have at least three certified nurses.

“We also noticed that the school had only one first aider, which is the school nurse and this is not acceptable. There was also no safety marshal,” he said.

At this point, the DPP sought an adjournment to enable him to tender Certified True Copies of some documents in evidence. The court granted the adjournment and Justice Ogala fixed July 1 for the continuation of the witness testimony.

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