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Coroner grants Chrisland School permission to conduct independent autopsy on deceased pupil, Whitney Adeniran

The management of Chrisland Schools in Lagos have been granted approval to conduct an independent autopsy on Whitney Adeniran, a 12-year-old late pupil of the school, who died in controversial circumstances during the school’s inter-house sports held at the Agege stadium in Lagos on February 9.

The approval was granted on Tuesday, April 4 by Magistrate Olabisi Fajana, the coroner inquiring into the cause of death of Ms. Adeniran.

The school had approached the coroner to seek permission to access some items obtained from the corpse of the deceased.

The school said this will enable it to consult with the independent forensic pathologist and to allow the consultant to testify accurately on his findings before the court.

In an application filed by its counsel, Olukayode Enitan (SAN), the school told the coroner that the request was made because its representative pathologist, Olugbenga Oyewole, only attended the initial autopsy carried out by the government as an observer and did not carry out any tests or dealt with any samples. When the appeal was made, both counsel to the Lagos state government, Akin George, and that of the Adenirans, Femi Falana (SAN), did not object to the application.

Counsel to the Lagos state government however applied orally that the court should order that the State Pathologist must be in attendance during the consultation as an observer at the cost of the Applicant. The counsel to the deceased’s family aligned with the submissions made by the State.

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The items ordered to be released to the applicant are the paraffin block of the skin sample and slides from which the diagnosis of electrocution was made, the samples of the urine, blood, and other body fluid collected at autopsy, samples of bone and muscle taken from the deceased for independent DNA analysis. Other items are all photographs taken during the conduct of the autopsy, copies of any other working samples and documents made in the course of the autopsy, and the result of all toxicology tests conducted. The coroner also ordered that the Chief Medical Examiner of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) or an officer assigned by him shall be present while transmitting the listed items for the consultation of the independent forensic pathologist of the school.

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The court also directed that the consultation by the independent forensic pathologist shall be carried out within Lagos state and that the Pathologist of the deceased’s family shall be granted access as an observer during the consultation.

Magistrate Fajana further held that all the items should be returned to the office of the Chief Medical Examiner of Lagos State (LASUTH) after the close of the forensic consultation by the independent forensic pathologist and Chrisland School is to bear the cost of the safe transmission of the listed items to the venue of the forensic consultation and back to LASUTH.

An autopsy earlier carried out on late Adeniran at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital indicated that she died as a result of asphyxia and electrocution.

On March 31st, the Lagos State Government arraigned the school, its principal, vice principal, and two others before the State High Court in Ikeja on a two-count charge of involuntary Manslaughter and Reckless and Negligent Acts contrary to Sections 224 & 251 of the Criminal Law, C17, Vol.3, Laws of Lagos State, 2015. When the charges were read to them, they all pleaded not guilty. They have since been granted bail. Read report here.

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