Lagos charges Chrisland School with involuntary manslaughter over student’s death

THE Lagos State Government has filed two counts of involuntary manslaughter, reckless and negligent acts against Chrisland High School Limited concerning the death of 12-year-old student Whitney Adeniran.

In addition to Chrisland School Limited, four staff members will be arraigned in court, including Ademoye Adewale, Kuku Fatai, Belinda Amao and Nwatu Victoria.

Adeniran died during the school’s inter-house sports activities in February, prompting the government to investigate the matter.

The Director of Public Prosecution, Babajide Martins, filed the charges on behalf of the state government before Justice Oyindamola Ogala of the Lagos High Court, Ikeja, on Thursday, March 30.

According to the DPP, the accused negligently killed Whitney Adeniran by failing to ensure her safety during the inter-house sports activities held on February 9 at Agege Sports Stadium.

The DPP said the school acted recklessly and negligently, thereby endangering human life, leading to Adeniran’s death.

The state government had previously announced its intention to sue the school, some members of staff, and one of the vendors for ‘Involuntary Manslaughter and Reckless and Negligent Acts.

The state’s legal team will be led by the DPP, Babajide Martins, while the defence team is led by four senior lawyers, including Bolaji Ayorinde, Yele Delano, Richard Ahonaruogho and Olukayode Enitan leading other counsel.

The charges, which are contrary to Sections 224 & 251 of the Criminal Law, C17, Vol.3, Laws of Lagos State, 2015, carry a penalty of life imprisonment and two-year jail terms, respectively.

Not new to controversy

Founded in 1977, Chrisland High School is not new to controversies. In 2020, Chrisland Schools was embroiled in a controversy involving allegations of sexual assault against a toddler by a school staff member. The incident reportedly occurred in November 2016 but was not reported to the authorities until 2018.

The case went to trial in 2019, and in February 2020, a Lagos State High Court found the staff member, Adegboyega Adenekan, guilty of sexually assaulting the child and sentenced him to 60 years in prison. The verdict was widely celebrated as a victory for child rights and protection in Nigeria.

However, the controversy did not end there. Some parents of students at the school accused the school of attempting to cover up the incident and failing to provide adequate support to the victim and her family. The school denied the allegations and stated that they had cooperated fully with the authorities during the investigation.






     

     

    The controversy sparked a wider conversation in Nigeria about the prevalence of sexual abuse against children and the need for schools and other institutions to take a more proactive role in preventing and addressing such incidents.

    Chrisland Schools said it had since taken steps to improve its child protection policies and procedures, including appointing a child protection officer and implementing training programs for staff on child protection and safeguarding.

    Similarly, the school was abruptly shut down in 2022 following reports of sexual misconduct by five pupils of the school during an international trip.

    The alleged scandal, seen in a viral video, happened when the school was in Dubai in March of that year to participate in the World School Games, a four-day annual competition with schools worldwide.

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