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Dowen college saga: Death of Sylvester Oromoni in focus

Sylvester Oromoni Jr, a junior secondary school student of the now infamous Dowen College, Lagos, on November 30, few days before his 12th birthday, died under dubious circumstances.

Prior to his death, he claimed that 2 students of the school tortured him for refusing to join a cult group.

He is believed to have sustained injuries after being allegedly attacked by some classmates which resulted in his “untimely” demise.

The Lagos State Government ordered the indefinite closure of the school, pending the outcome of investigations into the death of the schoolboy.

It led to the hashtag #JusticeForSylvesterOromoni trending.

Angry protesters besieged the school to demonstrate what is believed to be a cover-up by the management of the establishment. They barricaded the entrance as seen in a video posted by BBC Pidgin.

Dressed in black to signify morning, they chanted “justice for Sylvester”, asking that the school officials be held accountable for failing to safeguard the deceased and others who may have gone through similar ordeals.

They demanded security agencies to intervene immediately and bring the perpetrators to justice.

Sylvester Oromoni’s father revealed details of how his son was abused by the alleged bullies as well as the pain he endured before his death.

The Oromoni family retained Femi Falana (SAN), a human rights lawyer and activist, to represent them in their lawsuit against the school.

Three Dowen College pupils are currently in the custody of the Lagos State Police Command in connection with the death of Sylvester.

The parents of 4 of the boys allegedly involved in the crime are also in police custody, after they submitted themselves for investigation.

The Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, revealed that 2 of those suspected to have been involved in the ‘crime’ are still at large.

Late Sylvester had named five senior students as being responsible for injuries inflicted on him during the school attack.

The outcry over the death of Sylvester reached Aso Rock, prompting President Muhammadu Buhari to issue a statement promising that anyone implicated in the death of the youngster will not be spared.

The statement in part reads: “For several days now, the nation has been gripped by the news of the tragic incident at Dowen College, in Lagos with morbid details constantly emerging of how our young son, Sylvester Oromoni (Junior) met his death.”

The president’s statement said numerous stories about the late schoolboy “has indicated that Sylvester was bright and exceled in school and brought joy to his family”.

It continues: “I share the anger and grief up and down the country following this incident… I convey our heartfelt condolences to the Oromoni family, the government and people of Lagos State and give the firm assurance that this incident will be thoroughly investigated…”

The President assured the country that if the tragedy was truly the result of bullying or cultism, it must “serve as a catalyst for a permanent solution to the recurring problem”.

He directed the Police to continue the investigation until they get to the bottom of the matter, in order that the law may take its course. It was critical to ensure that justice was served regardless of who was involved, President Buhari said.

At a candlelight procession on Wednesday, December 8, members of the Dowen College Parents Forum paid their respects to young Sylvester.

To demonstrate their grief, the parents donned black shirts bearing the words “Dowen Parents Mourn.”

Some of the country’s most prominent celebrities called for justice for 12-year-old Sylvester as more gruesome details of his tragic death emerged on social media.

Among the famous Nigerians were Davido, Funke Akindele and Tonto Dikeh, who demanded justice for the deceased schoolboy.

Others included Mercy Johnson-Okojie and Emeka Ike, who called on the authorities of Dowen College to make a full disclosure of the circumstances surrounding the death of the minor.

Earlier this week, the management of Dowen College issued a statement saying the school was “committed to Justice”.

The statement partly read: “It is true that though he (Sylvester) went home on the 23rd of November, his family did call on the 29th to inform us that he said he was actually bullied by five senior students whose names he mentioned. We confirm that we immediately started internal investigations on the 30th but he passed on that same day. Sadly, we had barely made any headway before the social media frenzy commenced.”

While the school vowed to investigate the charges, they also claimed Sylvester had had a leg injury.

“We are distressed that a child sustained a leg injury, and passed on a week later. We are as shocked as the rest of the world to see our lovely boy look so ill and be in so much pain from the videos posted,” the school management said.

Also read: (Video) Dowen college shutdown amid death of student

Also read; PMB speaks on the Death in Dowen college

Also read; Sylvester Oromoni: 3 Dowen College students in police custody

Writing by Tola Oguneye