If you’re a Nigerian living in Nigeria, you may probably be wondering — when will the shege ever end? 

From hustling for new naira notes to queuing in filling stations, everyone wonders — what’s the next piece of bad news that could pop up on Buhari’s internet?

The answer came on February 12 with the death of a 12-year-old girl, Whitney Adeniran, who slumped during Chrisland’s inter-house sports competition. 

As of February 13, 2023, this was a developing story with no news yet on Whitney’s autopsy to know the true cause of death. However, the cause of Whitney’s death was later confirmed on March 2, 2023, as electrocution. This was revealed via an Instagram live video by Mrs Adeniran.

Nonetheless, we need to the trend of Nigerian kids dying under their teacher’s watch, and the authorities that deserve to be called out for this injustice.

What’s the update so far?

Whitney’s father so far has insisted that his daughter was hale and hearty before leaving home for the competition on February 9. 

The late Whitney Adeniran

However, Chrisland’s school management has denied any wrongdoing. 

According to a statement by the school released on Sunday, Whitney was rushed to the nearest medical facility where the doctor administered oxygen and other forms of medical aid. 

But this leaves one to ask an important question — what might have been the outcome for Whitney if the school provided an ambulance and medical personnel for the event? 

Has the government taken action?

Public Police Relations Officer of Lagos State, Benjamin Hundeyin, has assured Nigerians that the police command has begun investigating Whitney’s death

The Commissioner of Education in Lagos State, Folasade Adefisayo has also ordered an “indefinite closure” of Chrisland school until further notice. 

But this indefinite closure doesn’t seem to have lasted up to 24 hours. Some accounts claim that parents are still dropping their kids in Chrisland and going home

In Nigeria, we have 20 million children between the ages of six and eighteen who are out of school. Thus, they are highly exposed to all sorts of dangers. While it is necessary to put those children back in school, those in school are also facing threats to their lives. 

A trend of child deaths and violations in educational institutions 

Whitney Adeniran isn’t the only one. Here are five notorious cases of children being violated and dying under their teacher’s watch:

The Chrisland student sex tape

In April 2022, a video clip of two Chrisland school pupils engaging in sexual misconduct was shared on Twitter. The incident was said to have occurred in Dubai during a school trip. The female student who was only ten years old was later suspended.

However, the mother of the girl came out to speak after the video went viral. She alleged that her daughter and the boy were abandoned in the hotel by the teachers. They initiated a pregnancy test without her consent after finding the students together. 

The teachers who accompanied them on the school trip were only interrogated but not sacked. The school was temporarily shut down but later reopened.

Sylvester Oromoni

Sylvester was bullied and beaten to death by other students at Dowen College’s boarding house in November 2021. A viral video had shown Sylvester writhing in pain while bleeding from his mouth, with broken teeth. 

Before he passed away, Sylvester had mentioned the names of five people who were responsible for his injuries. But the school management denied it. They also mentioned that he sustained the injuries while playing football and was given immediate medical attention by the school nurse. 

The police also mentioned that his autopsy didn’t reveal his injuries originating from bullying or harassment. The parents, however, have not accepted this autopsy as fact and are still searching for justice.

Keren Akphager

In June 2021,14-year-old Keren Akphager, a student of Premier Academy in Abuja passed away after she was said to be raped. 

According to her mother, she received a call from a concerned teacher that she should take her daughter to the hospital. Keren died three days after her hospital visit. This was not before doctors confirmed that she had sepsis due to a condom left in the girl’s private parts.

The reaction of the school was to do one thing — cover their asses with statements and PR stunts.

According to Executive Director, Mrs Stella Fawehinmi, Keren was ‘hale and hearty’ when she left with her mother for the hospital. Thus, the school authorities were not the cause of her death. 

We are yet to figure out who the culprit behind Keren’s rape was.

Hanifa Abubakar 

In December 2021, the properietor of Noble Kids College in Kano, Abdumalik Tanko, kidnapped and killed a five year old girl, Hanifa Abubakar.

According to Tanko, he only kidnapped to collect a ransom of $14,600. However, he killed the little girl with rat poison and buried her in a shallow grave after recognizing who he was.

The parents of Hanifa finally had some justice served in July 2022. The Kano State High Court sentenced Tanko to death by hanging.

Chimdalu Onyekwuluje

In January 2022, Chimdalu, an 11-year-old student of St Michael’s Boys College, Ozubulu, Anambra State, died due to negligence.

His parent said that even when their son’s health was in critical condition, the school management didn’t call the parents. They still maintained that the son must finish writing his exams.

He reportedly died nine days after. This was when a cousin of the deceased borrowed a phone to alert the parents of Chimdalu’s health.

Are there any laws on child rights?

Nigeria currently has the Child Rights Act of 2003, which guarantees the rights of all children in Nigeria. So far, 31 out of 36 states have adopted this into state law. Kano, Zamfara, Bauchi, Adamawa and Gombe are yet to adopt the law.

Section 1 of the act states that “the best interest of a child should be the primary consideration in all actions undertaken by individuals, public, or private bodies.”

Section 2 provides that a child should be given the protection and care necessary for their well-being. It also goes on to say that “every person, institution, service, agency, organisation and body responsible for the care or protection of children shall conform with the standards established by the appropriate authorities, particularly in the areas of safety, health, welfare, number and suitability of their staff and competent supervision.”

Going by this law, a lot of schools are clearly slacking and need to be reprimanded.

What should the government do?

From all indications, it seems as though the temporary closure of schools until investigations are finalised, isn’t obeyed. 

We’re strongly calling out the Lagos State Government to make the investigation transparent. The school should only reopen when justice has been served. 

We also appeal to the Commissioner of Education in Lagos, Folasade Adefisayo and the Minister of Education in Nigeria, Adamu Adamu, to create a strong set of rules, regulations and guidelines concerning childcare while at school. This would help to avoid future occurrences. 

If they’re not tired of children being violated and dying every year, we most certainly are.

*This story was updated on March 2, 2023, to add some information on Whitney’s autopsy.

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