Following the death of 12-year-old Sylvester Oromoni, a student of Dowen College, Lekki in Lagos State, three students, suspected to have been involved in the alleged torture and beating for refusing to join a cult group, yesterday, visited the State Criminal Investigative Department (SCID), Panti, Yaba in Lagos for questioning.
Oromoni, Jnr died of complications last week as a result of injuries sustained from an attack by a group of five senior students for allegedly refusing to join a cult group in the school.
Recall that Adewale, son of the late Senator Buruji Kashamu, alleged to be involved in the matter has denied his involvement.
Meanwhile, National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS, South-West Zone, yesterday, set up a fact-finding committee to look into the matter just as it vowed to take up the case and ensure that justice prevails.
This came as wife of the Lagos State governor, Dr. Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu described the incident as heartbreaking.
Similarly, the Coordinator of Ijaw Monitoring Group, IMG, Mr. Joseph Evah faulted the failure of Dowen College owner to suspend the principal of the college before the commencement of police investigation as dangerous and unacceptable.
Also, as a Lagos-based businesswoman, Nikky Ufondu, narrated how she withdrew her son, Henry Ufondu, from the College in 2013 following his repeated bullying by some senior students of the college.
Police interrogate 3 Dowen College students
Vanguard gathered, yesterday that the students were invited by the Divisional Police Officer of Maroko Police Station and later taken to the SCID for questioning over Sylvester’s death.
The students, who were interrogated at the SCID, it was gathered, were accompanied to the police station by their parents and lawyers.
School should tell the truth— Father
The father of late Sylvester Oromoni jnr, Mr Sylvester Oromoni, who spoke to the Vanguard, yesterday in Warri, Delta State, said the closure of the school by the Lagos State government was the first step, adding that the death of their son should bring an end to ugly situations in schools that could cause more lives of innocent children.
Recalling sweet memories of his son, he said as the last child, Sylvester was very close to him, adding that he was like a teacher to him.
His words: “My son was very close to me. He was my last child. He was also like a teacher to me. He would correct my grammar sometimes when I made mistakes in spelling or even spoken English. He was very brilliant. He would spend most times with me whenever I was at home and he was on holiday.
“I have stopped talking about the painful incident because whenever I do, it weighs me down. It is affecting me.
“I heard the school has been shut down. It is a good one and welcome development. Justice for my son is what we want. Let the school tell Nigerians the truth.
“This incident should serve a lesson to failed parents that they cannot unleash their monsters on innocent children in boarding schools. The children behind this act, no matter their ages, should face the law. If they are minors, they should be sent to rehabs before the full glare of cameras as lessons for their failed parents.”
Family lawyer, Falana demands inquest
Also, the family of late Sylvester Oromoni, has hired human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana, SAN, which has already written the Lagos State Chief Coroner, demanding an inquest in the death of young Sylvester.
The letter dated December 6, 2021, by Taiwo Olawale, reads: “Given the needless death of Sylvester Oromoni, we are compelled to request you to use your good offices to cause a coroner’s inquest to be conducted into the cause of death of this young and promising boy and make appropriate recommendations pursuant to Section 15 of the Lagos State Coroner’s Law 2007 that states that an inquest shall hold whenever a coroner is informed that the death of a deceased person within his coroner district is as a result of a death in a violent, unnatural or suspicious situation.
“We, hereby, request your lordship to conduct an inquest into the circumstance surrounding this tragic death and Dowen College: Sylvester Oromoni’s family hire Femi Falana over his death are confident that your lordship will accede to our request with utmost urgency.”
Meanwhile, a group led by Olumuyiwa Bankole will hold a peaceful walk on December 10, 2021, by 10a.m., at the Bar centre, Ikeja to demand justice for the late Sylvester.
NANS sets up c’ttee, takes up case
Addressing newsmen in Lagos, the Zonal Coordinator of NANS, Mr. Kappo Samuel, said that the committee that has been set up was in line with the directive of the national leadership of the association that the zonal body should step into the matter.
He said: “The deceased was a student before he died and NANS is for the interest of all students and this matter must be pursued to a logical conclusion. A viral video shared by the family has shown how Sylvester was writhing in pain while bleeding from his mouth. His lips appeared swollen and his teeth looked broken.
“According to one of his relatives, the deceased mentioned the names of five persons who are also students of Dowen College, Lekki whom he said were allegedly responsible for his injuries before he finally died on Tuesday, 30th of November 2021.
“In their response to the student’s death, the Dowen College management in a statement claimed the deceased sustained injuries while playing football and was given immediate medical attention by the school’s medical personnel. The school denied that Sylvester had been bullied or attacked by some students in the school and said it had carried out a preliminary investigation, where its officials claimed that there was no case of bullying, adding that it has policies that are strongly anti-cultism.
“The deceased, according to his parents in media reports had also alleged that he was given a substance to drink by the ‘bullies’.
“The efforts by the school management are not enough. Concrete investigations must be done to discover what happened to Sylvester.
“It is on this premise that the leadership of the National Association of Nigerian Students South-West Zone, has recommended and submitted an 11-man investigating committee as requested by the national leadership of NANS and we expect that in due course the leadership will ratify and publish the names of the members of the committee.”
Sylvester’s death heartbreaking — Sanwo-Olu’s wife
Also reacting to the incident, Mrs Sanwo-Olu has condoled with the Oromoni family over the death of their son.
Speaking during an advocacy visit to some schools in furtherance of the ongoing 16 Days of activism against Sexual and Gender-Based Violence, GBV, Mrs Sanwo-Olu described the incident as “unfortunate,” saying “never again should it reoccur in the state.”
She said: “I am aware that the Lagos State Government is at the moment investigating the incident and honestly it is something we are not very happy about. It’s a big slap on the face of the education sector, the community, and Lagos State as a whole.
“It is a case that is being investigated and for the parents and everybody involved, honestly, we commiserate with them and send our condolences.
“As I said, the case is being investigated and I will not be able to say much on it at the moment.”
Evah faults non-suspension of Principal
On his part, the Coordinator of Ijaw Monitoring Group, IMG, Mr. Joseph Evah, yesterday, faulted the failure of Dowen College owner to suspend the principal of the college before the commencement of police investigation as dangerous and unacceptable.
Evah, in a statement, said: “The public will suspect foul play in this investigation if the principal remains as the head of the school without suspension by the school owner. This cannot happen in any sane society. Nigerians will not accept any cover-up in this global demand for justice for the late student. Nigerians demand a public apology from owners of Dowen College for keeping quiet for over a week in a matter that has painted school owners as inhuman and heartless.
“As an educationist with experience over the years, I know that in some schools, when a principal or any management staff wants to get a favour or fake relationship with some parents, they hide or cover up the crimes committed by children of such parents in the name of loyalty to the child’s parents, worsening the abnormal behaviour of the child in the society at large. In this case, we thank the Lagos state government for its intervention by asking the police to investigate but the credibility of the investigation demands the school owners suspend the principal in order not to interfere with the investigation. This is international standard all over the world because the police need some evidence and exhibits in the school that should not be tampered with within the course of their investigation.”
Why I withdrew my son from Dowen College — Parent
Meanwhile, a Lagos-based businesswoman, Nikky Ufondu, has narrated how she withdrew her son, Henry Ufondu, from Dowen College in 2013 following his repeated bullying by some senior students of the college.
Ufondu said that her son, 10 years old at the time, in Junior Secondary School 1 of the college, was always assaulted and subjected to serve unnecessary punishments whenever he fails to produce whatever the accosting senior students requested.
She said: “Henry was 10 years old when he joined the school for JSS classes in 2013, his provision gets finished fast and would request for another set, and since he was scared to ask me directly, he will rather complain to his school mother of not having provision anymore.
“This case happened countless times. Even when I had just visited him during visiting day and supplied him enough provisions and pocket money, just in less than a week, Henry would be asking for another set of provisions and money.
“I and his father started suspecting him because we knew something was not right. It took us weeks before our son was able to confess to us what he had been doing with his money and provisions.
“Those senior boys have put fears in my son with threats to deal with him should he inform his parents or anybody in the school.
“I wouldn’t have bothered myself about the seizing of provision and pocket money from Henry but the poor boy informed me of what the senior boys have been doing to him. I had to confront all of them.”
Recall that the Kashamu family, in a statement by Mutairu Kashamu, said: “Since the news of the unfortunate incident broke, we have made our own private enquiries and carefully questioned our son about his involvement. This is why we did not rush out to respond to the cyber-stalking, name-calling, and negative commentaries that have taken over social media about our son’s alleged involvement in this sad incident.
“Our son, Adewale Michael Kashamu, had acted as a school father for the late Sylvester in his first session in the school at the request of Sylvester’s sister who is also a student of the school.
“However, in the 2021 session commencing in September 2021 Adewale Michael Kashamu was moved to a different floor in the boarding house, and engrossed in his own studies and activities, he was no longer as close to Sylvester as in the previous session.
“Adewale Michael Kashamu is a compassionate and considerate boy. Sometime last session, some boys had been accused of beating Sylvester with belts and seizing his foodstuff but Adewale Michael Kashamu was not involved at all. He was in fact in sympathy with Sylvester over that incident.
“On that occasion, Sylvester’s parents made a report to the school and the affected students were questioned and one of them at least was suspended.
“Adewale Kashamu is not aware that an identical incident occurred again this year leading to Sylvester’s injury and death.”(Vanguardngr)