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My daughter not sickly, Whitney’s father tells Court

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The Father of a 12-year-old student of Chrisland High School, Whitney Adeniran, who died on February 9, 2023, during the school inter-house sport at Agege stadium, has testified before a Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja.

Mr Adeyemi Adeniran testified to Justice Oyindamola Ogala that his daughter, “Whitney is not sickly” but had under cross-examination stated that the cause of her death might have been a heart attack but he did not believe it because the autopsy result says otherwise and he suspected that it might have been an electrocution.

Led-in examination in chief by the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Dr Babajide Martins, Adeniran told the court that his wife called him from the office to come to Agege, the hospital she (Whitney) was taken to after the incident at Agege stadium.

He gave evidence in an ongoing trial of the staff of the school: Ademoye Adewale, Kuku Fatai, Belinda Amao, and Nwatu Victoria who were slammed on two counts charge by the state government.

The state had arraigned them on offence bordering on alleged involuntary manslaughter, reckless and negligent manner that endangered her life.

Their offences contravened the provision of Sections 224 and 251 of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State, 2015. They all pleaded not guilty to all the count’s charges.

The father of the deceased in a moody manner narrated, “On the day of the incident, February 9, my daughter left home on 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 arrived at my office, in the afternoon, and the mother 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 taken 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 and proceeded to Agege. It took me about 45 minutes to locate the place because it could not be found on Google Maps. Eventually, when I arrived, I saw my wife by the roadside, waving at me to stop. I got out of the car, I told my assistant (P.A) to leave the car on to quickly pick her up.

“I got inside; I saw her lifeless body on a table in a small room. In my mind, I thought she was given an injection, maybe she was sleeping. In that room, I saw some teachers, so I went close to my daughter, I raised her to my body, shouted tapped her to wake up. I prayed and nothing happened. I shouted I tapped her severally, but nothing happened.

“I asked for the doctor of the facility standing in a small room like a reception. I knelt 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 lying 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 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 the microbe will not enter her body and begin to swell up.

“The doctor said she needed some money, so I gave her #8,000.00. She later came back and said she needed more money, I gave her #7000 at that point, and I called some of my friends that leave close to that Agege Central Hospital. In a short time, they all arrived, and they asked if I have officially reported the case to the police. So, they left for the police station. As soon as they left for the 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 advise me not to waste time burying my daughter, she 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 the morgue and not say I want to conduct an examination. At that point, I nearly agreed at a point, I don’t even know of any morgue.

“Before that day of the incident, we played together, and she never complain, I remember when I came from Abuja, I even gave her a soft drink. The following day, there was no complaint 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 closure of what happened.”

The father of the deceased further told the court 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 pm. The second day we got back to LASUTH, I met the pathologist, and he advised that if we want to do an autopsy, we should write a petition and coroner paper. So I left for Panti and I asked my lawyer to write the petition to the Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) which de did.”

He also told the court that he persuaded his wife to sleep since she has not been sleeping since the incident happened. “As she was about to sleep, she heard noise 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 Wifes.’

He told the court that some of the students sent messages there that they know the school will not tell the parent the truth. He said 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 cutting candy machine that she want to buy. The wire of cutting candy busted 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.”

He continued, “at that time I put my mind on her black lips and black tongue” he saw when he got to clinic the took her to.

The prosecution, therefore, tendered the printout of the snap chat.

He further told the court how school management came for a condolence visit and told the family not to go on social media.

He was, however, cross-examined by the defendant counsel, Mrs Bimpe Ajegbomogun, and Chief Richard Ahonarougho (SAN) the first and second defendants respectively.

The witness said his daughter was never a sickler. He said the day they called him from school that she was not feeling well, he took his daughter to their family hospital.

“We used Inland Hospital at Ogudu. We are able to see a doctor and he prescribed some medication which I bought for her and she used as prescribed. My daughter complain of anxiety and Dr Taye examined her, she said nothing was wrong with her and that she only needed rest.

“My wife and I judiciously administered the drugs which were prescribed by the doctor and collected at the hospital pharmacy.”

He further told the court that the cause of her death might have been a heart attack but he did not believe it because the autopsy result said otherwise and his suspicion was that it might have been an electrocution.

“This is because I have seen people electrocuted before.” He said he was surprised that at the time Whitney fell, the cotton candy machine was not powered and that he would also be surprised that Whitney had fallen five to six meters away from where the machine was placed.

Under cross-examination by the second defence counsel, Mr Richard Ahonaruogho (SAN), the witness said he did not know the second defendant before the incident and that the only contact with him was when he was put among delegations that the management and staff of the school came to pay him a condolence visit.

The witness further said that he did not know if his daughter left home with her phone on the day of the incident and that he later saw her phone in his room on Feb.11.

He told the court that he signed a permission letter for her to participate in the inter-house sport.

Whitney’s father said he did not know that both parents needed to give consent for their wards to participate inter-house sports.

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