The tragic end of Master Sylvester Oromoni Jr has sparked off another round of social outrage, with widespread demands for justice.
Oromoni, an 11-year-old student of Dowen College, Lekki Phase 1 Lagos, had reported threats to his life by senior students who were trying to force him to join their cult to the school authorities. Failure by the school to immediately treat the matter with the urgency it required gave room for Oromoni to be attacked in his dormitory on November 27, 2021. Some accounts even alleged a poisoned drink was forced into his mouth.
A video of the child writhing in pains on his death bed with obvious injuries to his mouth, legs and belly went viral. The school claimed he had been treated in its clinic before his parents were called to take him home for further treatment. Thousands of petitions have been submitted to the police demanding for justice for the child and his family. The Lagos State Government has sealed the College and taken keen interest in ensuring the police unravels the cause of death and those behind it.
It is so unfortunate that children of that young age would be exposed to cultism with the school doing nothing to nip it in the bud. There are reports that some schools, especially expensive private ones, regularly panders to the whims of students and their wealthy and highly-connected parents to the detriment of other students, staff and the ideals of such schools. This is the typical malaise of the private school syndrome which has taken over our education sector, especially in large urban settings like Lagos.
What happened to young Sylvester Oromoni is typical of the fate that befalls people who expose evil in Nigeria. The Muhammadu Buhari regime established a Whistleblower policy. But there have been reports of the whistleblowers not being protected and government failing to live up to its promise of rewarding them. Nigerians who volunteer information about crime often become victims of the criminals and nothing happens. This is why crime and violence have almost overwhelmed us as a society.
Sylvester Oromoni Jr must not die in vain. The names he called out before he died must be investigated. The school authorities must also be investigated for acts of commission and omission, and if found culpable be made to pay the price.
We call on all petitioners to assiduously follow up their petitions until justice is done. Without pressing home these petitions, this tragedy will be quickly forgotten just like others before it.
We look forward to the day when competent leaders will arise and restore our public school system. Private schools, because of their mercantile focus, cannot adequately protect the weak and poor elements among their students and staff or unwaveringly enforce their founding ideals.