By Olasunkanmi Akoni & Ebele Orakpo
The Lagos state government has ordered the indefinite closure of Dowen College in Lekki, Lagos over the controversy trailing the death of one of its students, Sylvester Oromoni Jnr even as reactions have trailed the incident.
The 12-year-old student was alleged to have been attacked by some of his senior colleagues for refusing to join a cult group.
The student’s father, who bears the same name as his son also claimed that his son was fed liquid substance and intimidated into keeping mum over what transpired. But the school had earlier dismissed the claim, alleging that the deceased only sustained injuries while playing football with his colleagues.
Following a meeting with the management and staff of Dowen College on Friday, the Commissioner for Education, Folasade Adefisayo, announced an indefinite shutdown of the institution.
A statement signed by Ganiu Lawal, spokesperson of the Lagos State Ministry of Education said, “The Lagos State Government has ordered the indefinite closure of Dowen College, Lekki, pending the outcome of an investigation into the death of Sylvester Oromoni Jnr, a student of the school. Commissioner for Education, Mrs. Folasade Adefisayo announced the closure after a meeting with the School Management and Staff. The Commissioner called for calm, saying no effort will be spared in getting to the root of the incident.”
The Commissioner’s announcement came after Dowen College had issued a statement to parents about its plans to shut down for two days. The Management of the school, in a statement to the parents said.
“in view of the current situation concerning the school and considering the emotions of the students, we have advised that our students stay home tomorrow, Friday 3rd and Monday 6th. This will also afford the students the opportunity to revise for their forthcoming examinations starting next week.”
They earlier bullied my son, collected his foodstuffs, clothes —Father
Father of the deceased student, has however opened up on some of the atrocities his son went through in the school.
In an interview with an online medium, The Cable, Oromoni Snr said that his son was subjected to severe bullying, revealing that the boys who allegedly bullied Oromoni Jnr had been reported to the school management the previous term.
He said, “My son suffered. His birthday is next tomorrow (Dec 4). I’ll celebrate it. I’ll have a cake baked. I’ll cut it on his behalf. The boys they mentioned were also reported to the school last term when they bullied Junior and collected all his foodstuffs and clothes. I have two daughters, one of whom earlier graduated. I had to remove the second after this incident. They asked this boy to describe the sister’s private part and this got to us.”
The boy’s father also said that Oromoni Jnr had been issued death threats if he ever revealed what happened to him in school. He also stated that contrary to what Dowen College had said in a statement addressing the sad incident, the family friend who they sent to pick up Oromoni Jnr from the school described a totally different situation.
Oromoni Snr said”They put fear in him so much so that, when you ask him, he might keep to himself and say, ‘they will kill me’. This way, we didn’t know what to do. I considered removing him, reconsidered since his sisters were still in the school. The new incident came to my knowledge on November 21st after the school called my wife to notify us that our son was in the school clinic, injured. My senior son, who was to make a London trip, came to see us in Warri.
“The next day, we sent a family friend to help pick up our son since he was the only person in Lagos and take him to the hospital. When he got there, he panicked, pointing out that he doubts it’s a football injury as the school claimed. He said the boy couldn’t stand because his waist was bent and swollen with one side of his belly. His mouth was black. I asked, ‘is this really a football injury?’ He was taken to my house in Lagos but couldn’t sleep at night. I asked my eldest to fly to Lagos on November 24 while I took a trip to Asaba, from where I’d also make for Lagos. On getting there, he screamed. ‘This is beyond football injury. Come to Lagos now,’ he told me over the phone.”
Meanwhile, reactions have continued to trail the incident. In her reaction on one of her social media handles, the former wife of the Alaafin of Oyo, Adeyemi Olaitan, said: “I saw a disturbing video of a 12-year-old boy that was maltreated in school. I couldn’t hold my tears. If I’m the mother, I would have burnt down the school by now by myself o. I don’t play with my kids. Why on earth will you do that to an innocent boy?”
Morrison Nwaigwe wrote: “Nawaoooo, so this thing is real! True, Dowen College, Lagos did this to this small boy.”
Blessing Gilbert wrote: “Ah! This is pure wickedness. I couldn’t even watch to the end. What a painful and undeserving death.”
Ogbomo B. Noma: “This is why parents need to be close to their kids. Some parents put their kids in boarding or hostels and are always working. Yes, money is important but of what use is money when our children are being assaulted? Terrible situation for the family!
Reacting to Ogbomo B. Noma’s statement, T-Zola Abiola said: “I was thinking of bringing my son down to Nigeria to attend boarding school, because I want him to learn about culture and African values, but with this, (even with the parents in Nigeria) and this happened! What about me that’s not in Nigeria?”
Lilian Pono’s response to Ogbomo B. Noma: “The worst part of it is that he had told the parents of how they were molesting him but they still left him in the school. Hmmmmmmmm! I’m just short of words.”
Gerald Ihegaranya: “This is so sad for a child to be tortured to death. How did the school authority allow such cruelty in their school?”
Prime Minister wrote: “At what point was the boy taken to hospital by his family? From the school clinic, he was first taken to his father’s house in Lagos despite the reported poor condition of his health! Keeping the boy in the school despite reported bullying incidences was a risk that has turned bad.
The matter should be investigated by the Police with or without formal complaint by the family.
Government should begin to take cultism in secondary schools serious. This is becoming common.
Seun Akinmolu said: “Threat to life should not be taken lightly. The boy should have been withdrawn immediately.”