•Family hosts posthumous birthday for deceased
•Principal of Dowen College should be arrested’
By Samuel Oyadongha, Esther Onyegbula & Cynthia Damian
The outrage over the death of a student of Dowen College, Lagos, Sylvester Oromoni, increased, yesterday, as Delta State government, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and Ijaw Youth Council, IYC, demanded a proper investigation of the matter.
They were unanimous in calling for whoever is responsible to be identified and punished.
The management of Dowen College had, last Wednesday, claimed the 12-year-old student died from hip injuries he sustained after playing football
But reports had emerged that he was bullied and beaten by fellow students, leading to nationwide condemnation.
Contrary to the school’s statement, the deceased’s cousin shared pictures and video evidence, which confirmed suspicions that the child was bullied.
Lagos State government had shut down the school while an investigation was ordered into the matter.
However, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa hailed the move yesterday, saying it would support Governor Sanwo-Olu’s decision to launch an investigation into the boy’s death.
Okowa, who spoke with the father of the deceased, said he is determined to pursue the case to the end.
His words: “Last night, I spoke to Mr. Sylvester Oromoni, the father of late Sylvester Oromoni Jnr., the Dowen College student who unfortunately died under very controversial and unclear circumstances.
“During the call, I expressed my agreement with the decision of the Lagos State Government to launch an investigation into the death of Sylvester, a native of Warri South LGA in Delta State.
“As a government that places priority on the lives of our citizens within and outside the state, we are determined to pursue this case to the end.
“The matter must be investigated, perpetrators apprehended, punished, and made an example to serve as a very strong deterrent against future occurrences.”
Meanwhile, IYC expressed surprise that the school said Oromoni was neither bullied nor beaten, saying the institution must be investigated.
The Ijaw group said this in a statement by its National Spokesman, Ebilade Ekerefe.
According to the statement, “we have read to our chagrin that the late Oromoni was indeed the latest victim of bully and harrowing assaults by fellow students.
“To our utter consternation, the school denied all allegations, stating that Oromoni was neither bullied nor beaten but only complained of hip pain after playing football.
“However, contrary to the school’s statement, the victim’s cousin rolled out photos and video evidence, which tended to corroborate the fact that the child was bullied and beaten which had led to this avoidable untimely death.
“The late Sylvester Oromoni Jnr is a son of Ijaw land from Ogbe-Ijoh area of Warri South-West Local Government of Delta State. The circumstances that led to his death are indeed irksome to all Nigerians of good conscience who have displayed tremendous solidarity in the condemnation of evil. We are thankful to them.
“The Justice we demand is the holistic type that will bring to book the killers of this boy and members of the school management, who instead of speaking the truth soiled their souls by trying desperately to cover up the evil deeds.
“While we thank and commend the Lagos State government for its speedy initiative towards shutting down Dowen College, the Ijaw youths worldwide call on the Lagos Commissioner of Police to launch a detailed and meticulous investigation into the death of Sylvester Oromoni Jnr.
“We also call for the arrest of the Principal of the school, students mentioned and staff involved in the alleged attempt to change the narrative that led to the death. They have shown evidence of a deliberate attempt to conceal murder. The fake story about the hip injury from a game of football shows in clear language that they are complicit in the crime.
“We want to appeal to the police and other security agencies to be professional and not to be deterred by the massive influence behind the school. The school is a business concern of powerful people.
“There are online reports quoting the principal of the school as having said that lectures would go on online. This story, if true, amounts to organizing a party around the corpse of the late Sylvester Oromoni. The state government should halt it.
“We also demand from the Lagos State government and the Ministry of Education that the operating license of the school be suspended to send a clear signal to careless institutions that place emphasis on their businesses to the utter exclusion of the lives of the future leaders in their care.
“Finally, we commend all concerned Nigerians. We commend the media for the huge attention given to this disturbing development. We commend our celebrities, who trooped out in their numbers in speaking out to condemn this heinous crime while calling for justice. We are strengthened by the unprecedented solidarity shown by Nigerians.
“We, therefore, commiserate with Sylvester Oromini Snr and the entire Ogbeh-Ijoh royal family on this royal blood that has been spilt in a most dastardly manner.”
Also speaking, Chairman of Warri South Local Government Area, Delta State, Mr. Michael Tidi, called on the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, to get involved in unravelling the circumstances behind the death.
His words: “As a father and friend to Mr. Sly Oromoni, if I don’t add my voice in condemnation of the circumstances that led to the death of his beloved son, Sly Jnr, who would have clocked 13 years today, then one could pass for being inhumane.
“I commend the Lagos State government for closing down the college. But it shouldn’t end there. A full-scale investigation must be carried out. The NBA which I aspire to be part of in no distant time is enjoined to step in to ensure this issue is not swept under the carpet like others.
“From the conversation I had with Mr. Sylvester, the lesson for me is this: Parents, especially those whose wards are in these so-called high profile schools must carry out routine interrogations of the happenings in the schools as negligence on the part of school authorities is becoming a recurring decimal. More attention needs to equally be paid to our kids regardless of how busy we parents could be.
“The death of Sly Jnr. has depleted the ranks of intelligent lads in Warri and Nigeria generally. Justice is what we seek even as we count on God Almighty to recompense whoever was responsible for snuffing life out of this lad.
That the people of Warri and sizable Nigerians are united in grief to mourn him is a measure of our humanity. May the perpetual light of God continue to shine on Sly Jnr who transited to the great beyond. My deepest condolences to the Oromonis.”
Meanwhile, the family of the deceased marked his 13th year birthday, saying “he always wanted to fly planes.”
Pictures of the event, showing his family and friends cutting a birthday cake were shared online yesterday.