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My Daughter Was Not Sickly, Whitney’s Father Tells Court

Adeyemi Adeniran, the father of the late 12-year-old student of Chrisland High School Opebi, Whitney has testified before a Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja.

The businessman and father of the student, who died on February 9, 2023, at the Agege stadium in Lagos, told Justice Oyindamola Ogala that his daughter, Whitney was not sickly.

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 Whitney was taken to after the incident.

He gave evidence in an ongoing trial of members of staff of the school: Mrs. Belinda Amao, the Vice Principal, Nwatu Victoria, and a teacher in the school, Kuku Fatai. The other defendant is a vendor at the Agege Stadium, Ademoye Adewale.

They were all arraigned before Justice Oyindamola Ogala of the Lagos High Court, Ikeja on a 2-count charge of involuntary manslaughter, and acting in a reckless and negligent manner that endangered her life.

Their offenses contravene the provisions of Sections 224 and 251 of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State, 2015.

They all pleaded not guilty to all the counts.

The father of the deceased said, “On the day of the 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 had arrived at my office, in the afternoon, and 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, but was informed after her daughter had 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 road side, she 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.”

He testified that his wife told him to go inside and pray for his daughter may be 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, maybe 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 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. She later came back and said she needed more money, I gave her N7000 at that point, I called some of my friend that live close to that Agege Central Hospital. In a short time, they all arrived, they asked if I have reported the case to the police officially. 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 in burying my daughter, she really persuaded me. 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, I don’t even know of any morgue.

She talked about the money and the pain I will go through in the process of autopsy. I told her what other pain is worse than the death of a child and how much money will I spend to bring her back alive. I said I must get a closure of what happened.”

“Prior to that 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 telling myself why should I bury my daughter in a hurry without knowing what happened to her.

Under cross examination by the defendant’s counsel, 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 before 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 were able to see a doctor and he prescribed some medication which I bought for her and she used as prescribed. My daughter complained of anxiety and Dr Taye examined her, the doctor said nothing was wrong with her that she only needed rest.

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

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

“This is because I have seen people electrocuted before,” he said.

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

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