As the death of Sylvester Oromoni, a 12-year-old student at Dowen College in Lekki, Lagos, continues to ripple and spark dialogues about bullying, his devastated family and indeed Nigerians have begun on a journey for justice, according to Chiemelie Ezeobi and Sunday Ehigiator.
They say that your aspirations are valid, but for 12-year-old Sylvester Oromoni, his never came true, despite his parents’ best attempts to send him to a prominent school in Lagos to pave the route for him to achieve such lofty goals. He only wanted to be a pilot! That was all there was to it!
He desired to soar through the air like a bird, communicating with the winds as they guided his wings to fly. Until his life was cut short in a horrible manner, his dreams were very accurate.
Sylvester was a Dowen College student in Lekki, Lagos. He was transferred to the school without hesitation from their base in Warri, Delta State, because his four other siblings had attended, including his direct elder sister, who is still a student there. No one could have predicted that his would be different. He passed away!
He was slashed in his prime.
Sylvester’s ambition of becoming a pilot came to a halt on December 1, 2021, when he passed away after days of excruciating pain and agony.
Mr. Sylvester Oromoni Snr., the bereaved father, claimed the school contacted on November 21 to inform them that their kid was hurt and was in the school clinic. They sent a family friend to pick him up and take him to the hospital because they were all in Warri.
They weren’t really concerned prior to the guardian’s arrival at the school because they all assumed it was a small matter. However, when the man arrived, he told them that the nature of the injury made him suspect that the injuries were caused by football, as the school said.
Sylvester couldn’t stand because his waist, along with one side of his belly, was bowed and swelled, and his lips was black. To establish the situation, the family’s eldest son, who had flown in from London to Warri, went to Lagos and raised an alarm when he saw his younger brother.
Treatment began almost away, and it was on one of these days that Sylvester, who could only get one hour of sleep while medicated, confessed that he had not played ball or tripped, but rather had been assaulted by five boys who barged into his room, turned off the lights, and assaulted him.
They allegedly thrashed him and repeatedly stepped on his ribs. They also threatened to kill him, as well as any of the junior kids, if they told anyone about what had transpired. They were the ones who told him he had to say he was hurt while playing football, a claim they thought would fly given his passion for the sport.
He died before he could return to Warri to facilitate his transfer to the teaching hospital, according to the heartbroken father. The days leading up to his death, however, were plagued with sorrow and pain for the little youngster who liked playing soccer and PS5 games.
They took him to the hospital for blood tests and an X-ray, as well as typhoid and malaria treatments, but his lips began to peel, and he had liver enlargement owing to congealed blood, according to the heartbroken father.
While the grief was still fresh, Sylvester’s cousin, Perrison Oromoni, took to social media to name some of the school’s students who he claimed were responsible for the harassment and subsequent death of Sylvester.
According to the relative, the deceased mentioned the names of five boys, four of whom are in senior secondary school two (SSS2) and one of whom is in senior secondary school one (SSS1) (names withheld).
The deceased’s family also claimed that he was beaten and brutalised because he refused to join their sect. For declining to join the group, the perpetrators allegedly fed him a liquid substance described as “chemical.”
According to his family, he suffered inside injuries as a result of the pupils’ beatings, as evidenced by a battery of examinations and X-rays.
The Case Is Taken to Social Media by a Family
The case would not have gone public if it hadn’t been for Perrison. Perrison had described how his late relative was allegedly abused in school on November 21 and was picked up by a guardian on November 27 before dying days later.
Despite his tough exterior, the father of the deceased, whom he named after himself, was grieved, not only by his son’s loss, but also by the brutal manner in which he died.
He lamented that the school should have been more worried about pursuing the lads mentioned as the assailants prior to their deaths, but instead chose to make a press release concerning football-related injuries. He challenged the school to identify people who reportedly played football with the deceased, but the institution has yet to accept the challenge.
Suspension in the Past
The suspects listed were also reported to the school last term when they bullied the deceased and collected all of his food and clothes, according to one of the interviews when the father talked.
They also told him to describe his sister’s privates, and he was tormented when he refused.
According to the bereaved father, his hostel was transferred after the bullying event was reported to the school, but the bullying continued. He stated that they considered moving schools for him but decided against it because his older sister was still a student there.
The School’s Reaction
The school published a statement in response to the claims, which was signed by the school principal, Adebisi Layiwola. “On the 21st day of November 2021, one of the hostel parents reported to the management that the young child was hurt while playing football,” the statement reads in part. When giving him first aid, the resident registered nurse let him to return to his hostel room after he indicated relief.
“On Monday, November 22nd, 2021, he was in class, but one of his friends accompanied him to the Sick Bay during school hours, where he complained of hip pain. After the doctor examined him and prescribed Ibuprofen for the discomfort, the nurse massaged his leg, and he felt a little better.”
According to the statement, “the resident doctor called the deceased’s mother reporting the incident and asked that she come for him so that he could seek further medical assistance,” as per the school’s policy.
“However, the mother said she was not in Lagos when she chatted and prayed with him on the phone, promising to send the guardian to pick him up right away for further medical attention.”
“When the guardian failed to come up the next day, on November 23, 2021, the doctor called the mother again, who told him that his guardian would pick him up from school.
“The guardian later arrived and brought the deceased for an X-ray, which indicated that no portion of the boy’s body was fractured or harmed,” according to the report.
“Later in the week, the resident doctor called the mother to check on his progress, but she informed the doctor that he was sleeping at the time.” The principal also called his mother to inquire on his progress, and she informed him that he was getting a massage and gave him the phone to speak with the principal.
“It was thus with a sharp shock that it got word of the student’s death and the claims that accompanied it.”
Evidence of Mistake is Disseminated by the Family
The grieving family, enraged by the press release and the continued attribution of football as the cause of injury and death, released more visual proof to support their accusations.
Perrison, who is still active on Twitter, uploaded the final videos of Sylvester before his death, which showed him in extreme distress. He had sores all over his mouth, in addition to the pain and agony he was experiencing.
The dead could scarcely sit or lie down in the video. As he writhed in anguish, he continued to weep. “He couldn’t lift a leg or an arm,” Perrison wrote. He constantly expressing his dissatisfaction with his throat and stomach. He claimed to have been offered something to drink. Please pray for us. Will a youngster in this condition tell the truth about what has happened to him? Dowen College should inform us of my cousin’s fate.”
Protest that was supposed to happen but didn’t happen
When the video went viral, the simmering rage erupted into rage, with several Nigerians planning to storm the school the next morning. The bereaved family had requested peace after learning of the preparations.
The Ministry of Education pays a visit to the school.
Due to the uproar created by the case, officials from the Ministry of Education’s Office of Education Quality Assurance paid a visit to the school last Thursday and were shown around the facilities to aid their assessment.
The delegation included top-level officials from various government ministries, departments, and organisations, as well as the police.
LASG has decided to close the facility indefinitely.
The Lagos State government formally intervened, ordering the indefinite closure of Dowen College pending the result of the inquiry into the incident.
Mrs. Folasade Adefisayo, the Commissioner of Education, who announced the closure after a meeting with school administration and employees, called for calm and stated no effort would be spared in determining the cause of the incident.
Despite the closure, the school continues to offer classes online.
While accepting the physical closure of the school, the school simply shifted classes online, a decision that many have characterised as defiant. This was revealed in a letter written to parents by the school. The Lagos State government has yet to respond to the situation.
“We wish to tell you that, as a result of our discussion at the Ministry of Education, the school will be shutting down all physical activities until further notice,” said part of the email. In the sake of safety and transparency, all learning will be moved online.”
There have been numerous controversies since the news surfaced. The accused boys’ families were claimed to have acquired entry to the school as early as 5 a.m. to transport them away. The devastated family also claimed that two of the five boys had been flown out of the country without being investigated.
Almost all of the school principal’s and staff’s social media accounts have been deleted, or the comment section has been disabled. Given the avalanche of curses scribbled on the pages, this was the case. The school’s Instagram comment area has also been disabled.
In a separate event, the mother of one of the accused boys warned the school not to involve her son in the case in a leaked memo.
The school’s press release was also deemed controversial due to the school’s claim that the deceased was injured on the football field and not as a result of a beating.
Nigerians are conducting an independent investigation.
Nigerians, it’s been joked on Twitter, would give the FBI a run for their money any day. Nigerians dug into the background facts of the accused males after the teen’s death, proving the joke true once more. They had uncovered information about the lads and their family in less than two days.
Following the school’s press release and subsequent videos depicting Sylvester’s agonising condition before his death, a slew of unresolved concerns arose. Why weren’t similar allegations of bullying taken seriously? When the stated lads invaded the deceased’s area of the dormitory and repeatedly stamped on his lungs, where were the house masters? Why did no one believe that if he told the truth about his situation, the educational system would protect him? Why wasn’t there a security camera on the football field? What type of football would cause such an injury to a talented young player?
The Governor of Delta takes action.
Delta State Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, reached out to the grieving family after receiving multiple calls for his intervention. “I spoke to Mr. Sylvester Oromoni, the father of late Sylvester Oromoni Jr., the Dowen College student who regrettably died under highly controversial and unexplained circumstances,” the governor said in a news release.
“During the call, I indicated my support for the Lagos State government’s decision to initiate an investigation into the murder of Sylvester, a native of Delta State’s Warri South LGA.
“As a government that prioritises the lives of our citizens both inside and outside the state, we are committed to seeing this case through to its conclusion.” To serve as a powerful deterrent against future occurrences, the problem must be investigated, the culprits captured, punished, and made an example of.
“As we keep a careful eye on this matter, we offer our prayers and support to the Oromoni family.” I pray that Almighty God gives them the strength they need during this difficult time as they mourn the loss of their young son, Amen.”
The Search for Justice
The hashtag JusticeForSylvester has been trending for days, and the clarion call for everybody is that he receives justice and that the perpetrators are brought to justice. Aside from the mourning family, the teen’s brutal death had elicited predictable reactions from all, with the majority demanding justice and prosecution of those responsible. From government agencies to civil society groups, celebrities, politicians, and even ordinary Nigerians all cried out for justice.
“We shall be failing in our obligations as parents/guardians, administrators, security agencies, and government if we do not get to the bottom of the matter of late Sylvester Oromoni,” Atiku Abubakar, a former presidential election candidate for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), said. It is our responsibility to establish a safe environment in our classrooms.”
“Media claims that the Lagos State Government has shut down Dowen College permanently,” Mirabel Centre said in a statement on their Instagram page. That’s a good initial step, but it can’t be the only one. We must continue to demand justice for a child who still has his entire life ahead of him with the same fervour.”
Amnesty International, in a similar vein, wrote:
Sylvester Oromoni’s birthday would have been on December (…sic) 4, 2021. Authorities in Lagos State must look into the events that led to Sylvester’s death and ensure that no other youngster goes through what he did. Schools must be secure havens.”
Votes are cast in support of an online petition.
An online petition created on Change.org has already received 66, 678 signatures, falling just short of the 75,000 signatures needed to make it one of the most popular.
They asked questions like “did the school do enough to protect Sylvester; how were the injuries that led to his death sustained; and was the school negligent in protecting its students?” They were started by Irede Foundation and asked questions like “did the school do enough to protect Sylvester; how were the injuries that led to his death sustained; and was the school negligent in protecting its students?”
They charged the police to “act swiftly and examine the reasons and actions that led to his death,” despite the fact that there are so many questions and not enough answers. We’re requesting that the Lagos Commissioner of Education, Folashade Adefisayo, and authorities from the Lagos State Universal Education Board, as well as the Federal Ministry of Education, investigate claims of bullying and carelessness.
“We demand a full and transparent inquiry and prosecution of anybody found guilty in this unfortunate occurrence.” Social protection is very vital for children, and in light of this crime, we want to make sure that children with disabilities are included in the protection of children. For Sylvester, 12, and his family, justice must be served and shown to be done.”
Discussions on Boarding
The problems perpetrated in boarding homes were one item that this terrible tragedy dredged up.
There have been numerous reports of students being harassed, tormented, or even tortured by their classmates in the pretext of toughening them up in the boarding school tradition. There have also been reports of teachers abusing the youngsters under their care.
Sylvester’s death has reignited debates about failed school systems and boarding schools, as well as situations of children who are bullied on a daily basis but are unwilling to speak up.
Mirabel Centre, on the other hand, would rather not follow that path. “This conversation is not about boarding school versus day school and which is better or worse,” they claim. Reducing such a horrific event to a debate dilutes the gravity of the circumstance, which resulted in the death of a child.
“This is a case of abuse.” And the numerous ways in which our society and systems continue to fail Nigerian children. We encourage other abusers that they can commit crimes and get away with it when there is no accountability.”
Others, like Sylvester and Keren,
Another discussion sparked by Sylvester’s death was that of Keren-Happuch Aondodoo Akpagher, a 14-year-old student at Premier Academy in Lugbe, Abuja. In June of this year, published a piece about her passing. “Who Raped Keren, Leading to Her Death?” reads the headline.
She was allegedly raped in her school, which ultimately resulted in her death. Her mother’s name is
Mrs. Vivien Akpagher, who is still seeking justice months later, claims that her daughter was sexually abused and eventually died of problems as a result of a condom left in her private area.
Keren, according to her, fell into melancholy after returning home and died in the hospital a few days later. On June 22, 2021, she was picked up by her mother since she was ill. At the hospital, it was discovered that she had been raped and that a condom had been left in her vagina, causing an infection, sepsis, and trauma that led to her death.
The deceased had marked a part in her Bible before her death, “For what I have dreaded has come upon me, And what I have feared has befallen me. “I have had no peace, no calm, no rest, but trouble keeps coming,” according to the school’s management. This passage was taken from Job 3:25–26.
Her aspiration of becoming a nurse to care for the sick came to an end with her death, leaving her family heartbroken and society at large without someone who may have made a difference.
Birthday Wishes and a Promise Kept
“My son suffered,” the deceased’s father was quoted as saying in an online interview. His birthday is the following day (Dec 4). It’ll be a cause for celebration for me. I’m going to bake a cake. I’ll take care of it on his behalf.”
On December 4, he maintained his word—and so did the rest of the family. The family sang while cutting his birthday cake (a pilot’s cake with an aeroplane to boot) in between attempting to keep a stoic mein and honouring the memories of their peace-loving son.
The video that went viral broke a million hearts and made many people cry. It also sparked a flurry of emotions, which only grew stronger.
The Lagos Police Department has begun an investigation.
The Lagos State Police Command said it has begun an investigation despite the family’s failure to formally report to any division due to the public outrage that has not subsided.
The state Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, was alleged to have ordered the Divisional Police Officer of the Maroko Division, under whose authority the incident occurred, to go to the school right once and conduct an initial investigation.
According to the state spokesman, Adekunle Ajisebutu, the DPO began an inquiry right away before the CP sent the case to the State Criminal Investigation Department’s (SCID) Homicide Section in Panti, Yaba, due to the seriousness of the case.
“Members of the public, particularly the deceased’s bereaved parents, friends, and relatives, are assured that the Lagos State Police Command has deployed all available human and material resources at its disposal to unravel the circumstances surrounding the sad and unfortunate incident,” the CP said in a statement made available.
“While a thorough inquiry is underway, the public is urged from taking matters into their own hands.” They’ve also been told not to say anything that could jeopardise the inquiry.”
While expressing condolences to the departed family, the CP also promised that the outcome of the police inquiry will be made public as soon as possible.