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Chrisland School Failed To Obtain Safety Permit For Inter-house Sports, Witness Tells Court

A Safety Officer with the Lagos State Safety Commission, Engineer Waheed Ariyo Wahab has disclosed that Chrisland School failed to obtain a safety permit required to hold its inter-house Sports event at the Agege Stadium, where Whitney Adeniran, a student of the school allegedly died.

This is the evidence of the fourth prosecution witness before Justice Oyindamola Ogala of the Lagos State High Court, Ikeja, who claimed he investigated the incident.

Recall that the state government on March 30, 2023, arraigned the Cotton Candy vendor Ademoye Adewale, the school’s instructor Kuku Fatai, the principal of the school Belinda Amao, the school Nurse Victoria Nwatu and Chrisland School Limited, over the death of Whitney.

The defendants were charged to court over a-two counts of involuntary manslaughter, reckless and negligent acts preferred against them by the Lagos State Government.

Also, while being led in evidence by Director of Public Prosecution, Dr. Babajide Martins at the ongoing trial on Thursday, the witness told the court, “No risk assessment was conducted.”

According to the official with the Lagos State Safety Commission,“We respond to any emergencies in Lagos State and also carry out accident and incident investigations.

He said the commission is saddled with the responsibility to unravel the root cause and immediate cause of any accident and incident of safety matters.

Adding that the agency also gives recommendations to prevent further incident from happening again.

Giving evidence, Engineer Wahab said what is required by Lagos State Safety Commission to hold schools and public event, is a permit, that could enable a risk assessment.

Regarding event safety guidelines, he noted, “It is required you obtain what we call event safety permit.”

Speaking further, the official said, “Once you are to have an event that is above 250 people in attendance you’re required to obtain safety permit, you go to our website to register the event, we get the notification in our office and our officers from event department will be sent to the facility to carry out risk assessment of the facility, in which we give our requirements and recommendations of things to put in place to prevent accident.

“And once we carry out a risk assessment and every recommendations have been in place, that is when we can issue a safety permit.

“On the day of the event, we also send in our safety marshals to make sure that what we recommended during the application are actually implemented during the event and they would also be there on the day of the event, to be as a kind of watchdog.”

He added that once the attendees are above 250, other protocols are required to be complied with.

He enumerated: “An ambulance on ground, to have first aiders, adequate fire-fighting equipment, in case of fire emergencies.”

Speaking of the involvement in relation to the case against the five defendants standing trial, Wahab, explained, “Our agency was made aware on the 13th of February, 2023, we went on joint inspections with the Ministry of Youth and Social Development, Domestic and Sexual Violence Agency and our agency, which is the Ministry of Safety Commission.

“We went to the incident scene at Agege Stadium, our purpose of visiting Agege Stadium is to really observe safety infractions on Monday, 13 February, 2023.

“When we got to the incident scene, most of the evidences have been tampered with, so we were left with taking pictures and interrogating the school management and the people that witnessed the incident.

“Fortunately, that day we went, there was another school having inter-house sport, it was an opportunity for us to have a kind of feel of what actually happened on that day, because there were vendors all around as at the day we visited.”

We also visited Chrisland School, Opebi.”

He further told the court about findings of the agency’s investigation.

Wahab said, “The school failed to obtain event permit from Lagos State Safety Commission. No risk assessment was conducted. No ambulance services was available. Poor emergency management system in place. Poor emergency communication. No retainership hospital close to the event centre.”

Our findings on protocols, “No risk assessment was conducted.”

In terms of events safety guidelines ought to be complied with, he reiterated that, “the school failed to obtain safety permit.”

He said after the visit of the 13th, other visit by the Safety Commission were done without the involvement of other agencies, in order to get more facts relating to the incident, so as to establish its findings.

According to him, “When we got their we tried to simulate the claims made by the school, the claim was that the candy machine was not close to the incident scene but on the second visit we discovered that the candy machine was close to the incident scene.”

“We also discovered that no restrictions was made to the vendors in terms of the vendors using power generating set at the incident scene.

“As a result of that there was high possibility of spread cables/wires dangling around, so that confirmed our initial findings that says that no risk assessment was done.

“Our other findings was school bus was used in place of an ambulance which is not acceptable because an ambulance was expected to have two doctors and three certified nurses.”

He continued, “When you have an event like that, in case of emergency a retainership hospital must be accessible for medical response.”

“The school only has one first aider arrangement, which is the school nurse. No safety marshal was on ground because they didn’t apply for a safety permit.”

“The prosecutor also informed the court of having some documents to tender but Counsel to the third defendant, Olukayode Enitan, SAN, said he would not be opposing the document despite not being front loaded.

Justice Ogala adjourned till July 1, 2024 for continuation of trial.

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