News

June 13, 2024

Whitney: Chrisland failed to take compulsory risk assessment test – Witness

Chrisland School

File image of late Whitney Adeniran, the 12-year-old Chrisland School student

The Lagos State Safety Commission told a Lagos High Court Ikeja that the management of Chrisland Schools Opebi, failed to take a compulsory risk assessment test of the commission.

Mr Wahab Ariyo, a safety officer with the commission, disclosed this at the resumed trial of the Chrisland Schools Opebi and four of its staff members on Thursday.

Ariyo testified as the fourth witness for the prosecution before Justice Oyindamola Ogala.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Lagos State Government on March 31, 2023, charged Chrisland Schools Ltd. Opebi, its principal and vice principal and two others with the killing of Whitney.

Those charged alongside the school are Ademoye Adewale (a cotton candy vendor), Kuku Fatai, Belinda Amao (Principal) and Victoria Nwatu.

The defendants are standing trial for allegedly causing the death of a 12-year-old student, Whitney Adediran, during the school’s inter-house sports competition.

According to the prosecution, the alleged offences violate Sections 224 and 251 of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State 2015.

Trial had since begun in the case with the prosecution still leading witnesses in evidence.
When the case was called on Thursday, the Lagos State Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Dr Babajide Martins, called his fourth witness (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, investigating accidents and incidents to uncover the roots 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.

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

Ariyo added that after this, the commission gets notified in its office, while an officer would be sent from the Events Department to the facility, to conduct basic assessments.

The witness told the court that afterwards the commission would give the requirements of the things to put in place, to avoid accident or emergency at such events.

“Once we carryout risk assessment and all requirements are met, we then issue a permit,” he said
According to him, 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 told the court that for events with over 250 guests, there were further protocols such as ensuring availability of ambulance, first aiders and fire fighting equipments.

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

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

Speaking further, he noted that on account of this, 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 added that the development presented an opportunity to have a feedback of what happened, as there were vendors at the scene.

On his findings at the scene he said, the school failed to obtain event permit from the Lagos Safety Commission adding that no risk assessment was conducted.

He added that there was no ambulance, poor emergency management system, poor emergency communication and no retainership hospital close to the venue.

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

The witness said that their second visit showed that the candy machine was close to the scene.

“We also discovered that no restrictions was 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 told the court that if same had been done earlier, all the safety infractions would have been noticed and recommendations made to close the gaps.

He told the court that 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 tender Certified True Copies of some documents.
The trial will resume on July 1.