Chrisland School: A Passionate Appeal to Lagos Govn, Sanwo-Olu to Re-Open, By Human Rights Agenda, HURMA – Rights Monitors

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The Executive Director of Human Rights Monitoring Agenda (HURMA Global Resource Initiative), Comrade Buna Olaitan Isiak has made an appeal to Lagos governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu to reopen the Chrisland School at Ikeja, Lagos which was recently locked down due to the unfortunate incident that claimed the life of a student, Whitney Adeniran, a matter presently in court.

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This appeal was communicated through a letter addressed to Governor Sanwo-Olu’s office at Alausa, Lagos with the title: “A PASSIONATE APPEAL TO LAGOS STATE GOVERNMENT TO REOPEN CHRISLAND SCHOOL IKEJA, LAGOS STATE”. The letter was delivered to governor’s office on Tuesday, 4th of April, 2023 and the content presented at a media briefing held on Thursday 6th at the Central office of the Human Rights group in Somolu, Lagos.

The letter signed by Comrade Buna Olaitan Isiak, the Executive Director of HURMA, a body popular for its regular intervention on issues of fundamental human rights of citizens reads in parts:

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“HURMA wish to intimate your Excellency of the receipt of a petition dated 20th March,2023, written by some concerned citizens of Nigeria on behalf of Chrisland School which had been under lock and key for about two months now and still counting.

“After the receipt of the public interest petition, we saw reason, logic and justification in same, especially as regards the closure of the school without minding the future of the innocent students. Subsequently, we undertook some daunting task to know the remote and immediate cause of such unfortunate incident and what we found out as facts are more than revealing that the government has not been too fair to the students.

“It would be recalled that the Chrisland School at No. 28, Opebi Road, Ikeja, Lagos State was put under lock and key on 10th February, 2023, due to an unfortunate incident that occurred during the Annual Inter House-sport event of the school at Agege stadium, where one of the students of the school, Whitney Adeniran, passed on. It was a tragic loss to the parents, Chrisland School and to the State. We sincerely stand with all who are grieving in the wake of this truly terrible incident. We are really saddened by this tragic loss!

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“HURMA also use this medium to commend the Lagos State Government for its prompt response to the incident. We appreciate the government’s effort so far in dousing the onslaught and calming the strained nerves which enabled various concerned parties shield their swords and allow Whitney to be laid to rest peacefully.

“Unfortunately, as Chrisland School and Whitney parents were mourning the loss of their beloved student and daughter, some people with unknown reasons took advantage of the situation to feed people on the social media with various distorted versions of the inaccurate account of the incident that resulted to the death of Whitney Adeniran. This, to a large extent, actually added to the grief of Chrisland School, the parents, the deceased colleagues in school and Lagos State Government and also caused unwarranted outrage by the public, who only had access to the distorted social media news by self – serving fifth columnists.

“Although, it would appear that out of sincere humanity and honour for the dead student, Chrisland School deliberately restrained from joining issues with every element to avoid controversies, however, it is imperative and essential to present to the public the Chrisland School’s side of the story based on the account of some eye witnesses who were present during the whole incident.

“There are various available evidence that showed contrary position of the public uproars, sentiments and misinformation subsequent to the sad incident. There are pictures and video camera recorded by both the staff of Chrisland School and the Stadium worker. There are telephone chat messages between the deceased student and her friends which indicated that she was ill to the extent that she fainted at home and was revived later few days before the unfortunate incident. In fact, the Principal of Chrisland School, Mrs. Belinda Amao, equally sent a message to the deceased’s mother when it was observed that she was absent from school few days before the incident, asking about her wellbeing and the mother confirmed to the School Principal that she was sick but will be in school the next day. Whitney was supposed to participate in the school Inter house sport march past but she informed the House Master that due to her health condition she should be exempted and the school obliged and excused her from participating in the march past. The school management also contacted an independent investigator who came up with comprehensive report of the event that resultantly led to the death of Whitney Adeniran. All these can be made available if need be or on request. There is also pictorial evidence that showed clearly that Whitney put on a sports canvass and there no water or any wire there making the suggestion of electrocution by any means not only doubtful but also impossible. Despite all these, as a mark of respect to the deceased and moral restraint, we think, the school decided to keep quiet but as an agency, we owe the puic the duty at this juncture, to put things in the correct perspectives to avoid the School being unnecessarily condemned and hanged by the public for no just cause.
More so, it is our respected view that closing the school is not in the best interest of the school or the government because such closure is seriously detrimental to the future of the students.

“Sincerely, irrespective of anything, the future of the other students is the major concern Human Rights Monitoring Agenda to step into the matter. We belief that the Chrisland School did all it could to prevent any unforeseen occurrence of this nature during the Inter house sport event based on the facts available to us. It needs be pointed out that the event in question did not take place anywhere within the school premises or its environs but at Agege Stadium which is a government facility where all necessary facilities were supposedly put in place by government. More so, we understand as informed that the school equally put necessary facilities in place, including two nurses on standby, Red Cross Society members and a vehicle to be used in case of any issue to aid hitch free event of the day. Therefore, the death of Whitney was devoid of any human contribution or carelessness to warrant the prevention of other students from attending school because such step will be tantamount to throwing away the baby with the bath water. The effect on the society and future of the estranged students is worse that can be imagined.

“Be it noted that the Lagos State Government deserves serious commendations for the kind gesture in considering the students in terminal classes i.e. the J.S.S 3 and S.S.S 3 to resume back to school to allow them prepare for their upcoming examinations. However, HURMA humbly plead that the whole school be opened and other students be allowed to resume back to school. The long stay at home by the students will amount to discrimination where their colleagues are in school learning while they are at home and being deprived of having access to basic education in breach of their fundamental right.

“In addition, the continued closure of the school and the students being kept at home is against Section 14 (1) & (2) of the Child Right Law of Lagos State, which states thus: (1) Every child has the right to free, compulsory and universal basic education and it is the duty of the LAGOS STATE GOVERNMENT to provide such comprehensive education. (2) Every parent or guardian must ensure that his or her child or wards attends and completes basic school education. Therefore, it is the duty of Lagos State Government to direct her policy in a way that will encourage and promote the right of every child in the State to education. To this end, the continued closure of the school by Lagos State Government amounts to an infraction or breach of its own law. Not only that, Section 1 of the Child Rights Law of Lagos State further provides that: “Every action concerning a child, undertaking by any individual PUBLIC or private body, institution, court of law, administrative or legislative authority, THE BEST INTEREST OF THE CHILD MUST BE THE PRIMARY CONSIDERATION.”

“In view of the above, it is our candid opinion that the only paramount consideration or interest of the students of Chrisland School is the immediate opening of the school for academic activities and anything short of this is the destruction of their future and nothing more. In making this call, we are not unmindful of similar or worst occurrences in Lagos schools but in which the schools were not closed. A good example is that of Thescol College CMD road, Magodo, Lagos where a teacher defiled a 9 year old student. Another example is the death of Kambilichukwu Edochie, a 16 year old boy who fell down while playing football with his school mates within the school premises and died few days ago but none of the schools was closed. We can go on citing similar examples even in government schools. We, therefore, ask whether the case of Chisland School is not being taken too far, especially when the incident did not occur within the school premises.

“Finally, It is more worrisome and disturbing that even after the government has charged the school and the staffers to court, the school is still locked. We submit that justice demands for the school to be opened immediately to prevent the school and the students from suffering double jeopardy. We plead with everybody and the government to think about the future of the students over and above any other consideration. We are not trying to justify anything here but to plead for leniency to save the future of the students.”

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