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Dowen College: Is the chicken coming home to roost?

by Church Times

By Olu Adebayo

When the news of the death of Sylvester Oromoni of Dowen College, Lekki, Lagos first broke in November 2021, many had thought it was one of those news that would soon fizzle away.

But two months after, the story is still a gathering storm. It won’t just go away.

Many waters, as they say, have passed under the bridge. Both the school and the government have made moves to get to the root of the matter.

The police did their investigation on allegations of cult activities around the boy’s death. Suspects were arrested and interrogated. There was a post-mortem on the corpse by pathologists.

Yet, nothing pointed to the claim that the young boy was murdered, at least from the report of the pathologists who handled the post-mortem.

That notwithstanding the school took the bull by the horn recently to address its own end of the story. All its board members voluntarily threw in the towel.

They retired from their assignments as overseers of the school to allow for some other professionals who could take the school to its next phase. That itself would not have been an easy decision to take.

It also took far-reaching decisions about restructuring its polity and warned that it would not hesitate to wield the big stick if any of its staff is found wanting in this new move.

The intrigue

That is commendable. But an intrigue is playing out from the end of Oromoni’s parents. When they alleged that their son was murdered by some cult boys in the school, public sympathy swayed in their favour .

Many who saw the video of Sylvester writhing in pain had a sense of revulsion. Who won’t be angry seeing a young boy in such a condition?

Many are still holding to the narrative that the boy was murdered. They have refused to shift ground. They believe the authorities are covering up something, that there is foul play.

That is the song in the mouth of many who have been following the incident. Some interest groups have taken it upon themselves to nail the school and perhaps bury it out of sight.

But that won’t do anybody any good. In the first place, several destinies are tied to the school and it would be foolhardy to think if the school dies the proprietors are the ones that would suffer it alone.

It would no doubt have a far-reaching effect on many people. Even at that, there is an attendant psychological trauma on the students of the school.

Thread of justice must run its course

Despite the collateral loss, it is also important to allow the thread of justice to run its course. That is why I am happy there is an ongoing coroner inquest into the matter.

Just a few days ago at the coroner inquest going on in Epe, Lagos, a second prosecution witness, Peter Odewo-Oritse, an operations manager at KenBen Nig. Ltd., a company in Warri, Delta State, owned by Oromoni’s father confirmed some of my past interventions on this matter.

While answering questions from the lawyer to the Lagos State Government, Seun Akande, confirmed that the deceased had an enlarged liver but was not immediately taken to a hospital. This was reported by Channels Television.

The Oromoni family doctor, Aghoho Owhojede, according to the witness attended to the boy in Warri. Based on the doctor’s instructions, a scan and an x-ray were later conducted on him which revealed he had a liver enlargement.

The witness said Oromoni’s parents initially arranged with Dr. Owhojede to take their son to the Delta State Teaching Hospital, Oghara for treatment but added that he was eventually taken to one Vicar Hospital on Nov. 30th where he was said to have later died.

The witness also testified that the boy and his mother had first gone to church for prayers before the medical tests were carried out.

At the Jan. 21st sitting, the first witness, Clifford Tejire had told the coroner magistrate how he went to Dowen College on Nov. 23rd to pick the late Sylvester from school.

He confirmed that though the boy was in great pains, and his condition worsened, he was not instructed by the parents to take him to the hospital.

From all indications, there is a clear case of tardiness from the end of the parents which is what I have been harping on.

The medical condition

But then, how did the issue of liver enlargement come into place? Was it as a result of poisonous substances injected into the system or that the boy has had the issue long before now?

The conclusion of the post-mortem is that “there is no evidence to establish a case of torture, bullying and forceful application of poisonous substance against the suspects.

“Final result of the post-mortem and toxicology examination conducted both in Warri and Lagos agreed that the deceased died of natural death,” the then Lagos police boss, Hakeem Dosunmu reportedly said.

It is however worrisome that the counsel to the Oromoni family, Mr. Olawale Taiwo from the Messrs Femi Falana Chambers requested on Friday, January 28 for an indefinite adjournment on the matter according to reports.

Though the request was turned down by the coroner magistrate; the mere request for an indefinite adjournment bothers so much on the integrity of the claims of the Oromoni family.

Is it now that witnesses are making submissions on the sequence of the event that the matter should be adjourned indefinitely? The first two witnesses have so far confirmed some of my past submissions. It is now left for the discerning public to take it from there.

The parents of Sylvester may not be telling the world the whole truth about their son. It will be good to continue to dig deeper into this matter. What the world needs to know is if the boy had a medical history that led to liver enlargement.

Why the school should be reopened

But then, it is important to commend the Lagos State Government for going the whole length to get to the root of the matter. I am aware the school is still under lock. Good as that decision may look, I think it’s time the ban placed on the school is lifted.

They have suffered enough. They should be allowed to resume normal activities moreso that they have made pragmatic changes that would help forestall a similar incident.

The great lesson for all schools especially those who run hostel facilities is that no student should be admitted without a proper medical examination. If Dowen College is aware of the medical history of young Oromoni; perhaps the matter would not have dragged this far.

Adebayo wrote in from Surulere, Lagos

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