Update: Dowen College Saga:
*Sylvester fell at football pitch- Dowen College
*The principal keeps shutting me up, Senior Students’ gang tortured Sylvester to coma- Roommate
*My son listed attackers’ names before death- Father
By Charity Uwakwe
The controversial news of the painful death of twelve years old Sylvester Oromoni Junior, a former student of Dowen College is taken different turns by the minute.
The 12-year old student of Dowen College in highbrow Lekki, Lagos was killed after he was allegedly bullied by senior students who had failed in their attempts to lure him into their cult.
This is even as grapevine disclosed that the school was known for her notoriety in cultism, as the management and officials could be exonerated.
Whereas the management of the school had refuted allegations of the deceased being tortured by Senior students, to a state of comatose, more facts are unfolding as regards the prime cause of the death of poor Sylvester.
Reportedly, Junior, as he was fondly called, was last born and would have clocked 13-year-old on December 4.
Meanwhile, the mysterious death has inarguably elicited anger, anxiety, pains and agony from both family members, friends and even well-meaning Nigerians, as all are calling for thorough investigations and justice for Sylvester.
Reacting to the incident, the school management, Dowen College in a statement made available to newsmen, narrated that he was injured while playing football on 21st November 2021 and was immediately administered first aid and was released to his hostel room after he expressed relief.
“He was in class on Monday 22nd day of November 2021, but during school hours one of his friends accompanied him to the Sick Bay where he complained of some pain in his hip. The doctor examined him and prescribed Ibuprofen for the pain, while the nurse massaged his leg, after which he felt a bit better”.
Furthermore, it stated that one of the school’s hostel officials had informed the management on November 21 that Junior was injured while playing football with his colleagues.
According to the school, Junior initially received a first aid treatment from a resident nurse and subsequently, he returned to his hostel after he expressed relief but started complaining of pain in his hip the next day and was again attended to by the resident doctor at the school’s sickbay.
Dowen College further posited that the doctor later called the student’s mother to inform her of the situation and also asked her to pick him up for further medical treatment.
The school explained that after an initial delay, the student’s mother eventually sent a guardian to pick him up and subsequently took him for an x-ray.
“The preliminary investigation showed that there was no fighting, bullying, or any form of attack on the boy.
“He made no such reports, neither to his sister who is also a student or any other students, prefects, house parents, medical staff, or any of the management staff.
“The school has two regular nurses and a qualified medical doctor that promptly attends to students’ medical needs.
“The resident doctor followed the laid down procedure by inviting his mother to take him home for further treatment after initial treatment by the school’s medical staff,” the principal, Mrs. Adebisi Layiwola, said in a statement.
However, in a viral video obtained by Junior was seen, battling with excruciating pains, as his teeth were stained with blood.
Junior’s nephew, Perry Oromoni @Perrisonoromoni had alleged on social media the deceased was attacked for refusing to join a “cult group” dominated by older boys in the school.
Famousreporters.com learnt that officials of the Lagos State Office of Education Quality Assurance, also visited the school, as the family had also petitioned the Lagos Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, on Dec. 2.
Meanwhile, it was learnt that another petition addressed to the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) will follow on Dec. 6 for a full probe.
Famous Reporters also gathered that the school was consequently shut down for a couple of days, hence Friday 3rd and Monday 6th — respectively due to the heightened emotions.
In the mail sent to parents as obtained by The Nation, the management noted that the short break will afford the students opportunity to revise for their forthcoming examinations next week.
However, contrary to the School’s purported involvement of Sylvester in a football game, Sly was said to have mentioned the names of the perpetrators of the wicked act before he took his last breath.
Corroborating, Sly’s roommate who without fear or favour, corroborated the story of Sylvester before his death, adding that the school is covering up the true situation of things.
The dormitory mate of late Sylvester Oromoni confirmed that he was tortured to death by some senior students.
In a series of WhatsApp messages to one Tamara, the dormitory mate said six and not five seniors attacked late Sylvester.
The student whose identity was hidden, said that both the principal of the school and their dorm master, one Mr. Ahmed, were aware of the attack on the late student.
He said that Oromoni’s case was not the first of such in the school, adding that previous ones had been covered up.
“Sly got beat up on Saturday 27th of November by the boys that was named and the ring leader was Favor, Anslem and Micheal is more of a follower. I was in the room the day they came in.
“Sly was on his bed and we were just talking and playing in our hostel room as usual after we clean. At about evening time the senior boys came in and senior Favor switched off the light. They were holding their belt with them
“They were not 5 but 6 senior boys but I don’t know who exactly was part of the beating but I know senior Edwin was there for sure.
“They beat him up and he fell from his bunk and after they were done they called us back to the room and Aslem said the school rules piss him off and if we snitch the way Sly did them would do even worse to us. Sly was still on the ground and Favour kicked his head again before they left.
“In the morning on Sunday, Sly was on his bed and he complained that he couldn’t walk so the senior called us to their room and said if we snitch they would know and that if they ask us what is wrong we should say he played football.
“The dorm master knew there was a beating that occurred so I don’t understand why they are lying on the internet that he wasn’t aware.
“Even the following morning, Sly went to the sick bay and it was obvious he was beaten and because no football can break bones and moreover that week we didn’t have or play football or sports activities.
“I tried to explain to the principal what happened but they keep shutting us up and saying he was playing football even before Sly uncle came to pick him up me and me and my friend told our dorm master Mr Ahmed what really happened but they didn’t want to listen to us
“I can’t sleep so I decided to speak the truth. Everything Sly said before he died were the truth. We didn’t know he was dead till we were sent home and picked by our parents. They told us he was getting withdrawn from the school
“This is not the first case that has happened in Dowen they always hid and cover it up the junior student are not always protected by the teachers or principal if we report anonymously, they would make us suffer for reporting.”
The late Sylvester died just a few days to his 12th birthday and his big brother, Great Oromoni, took to social media to pen down an emotional tribute.
In the touching note, Great noted that Sylvester was his only little brother, begging him to come back.
He added that he had gotten the late Sylvester the game he wanted for his birthday gift but would no longer have the chance to give it to him.
Nigerians demand investigation into the death of Sylvester Oromoni
Meanwhile, over 100,000 Nigerians have signed two petitions demanding the swift prosecution of the senior students who allegedly caused the death of 12-year-old Sylvester.
The first petition was started by a family member of the deceased, Timi Oromoni, titled, ‘Justice For Sylvester Oromoni Jnr.’
The second petition was started by The Irede Foundation with the title, ‘We Want Justice For Sylvester.’
Corroborating with Sylvester’s roommate’s account of the real cause of the mysterious death, the former’s father, a Delta State business.
He tells PUNCH how the family is coping after the death of the 12-year-old and their search for justice
Please briefly tell us about yourself?
My name is Mr Slyvester Oromimi. I am a businessman. I am from Ogbe-Ijoh, Warri South-West Local Government Area of Delta State. I am Ijaw by tribe.
Your 12-year-old son reportedly died after being allegedly tortured by his seniors in a boarding school. Can you give us an account of what really happened?
My late son’s name is Sylvester Oromimi Jnr. I gave him my name. Sometime in October this year, my son complained that they (school authorities) put the senior and the junior students in one room. So, these senior boys, whom he shared a room with, would harass him and physically assault him. Each time I gave him money for upkeep – most times, N60,000 – it would not last up to a week. He would call home and start crying that he was hungry and needed more money. I was no longer comfortable. ‘What is really happening to this boy in that school?’ I kept wondering. When I asked him, he refused to say anything. He always acted like he was being threatened not to talk. We kept on buying more provisions. They would steal his clothes and his money. He started keeping his money with his hostel master, one Mr Ahmed.
Another time, these senior students cornered him and asked if he had seen the private parts of his elder sister who had just passed out of the school. They told him to describe what her private parts looked like. He said he had not seen that before and could not give any description. They started to torture him. When the beating became too much, he then said that he had seen the sister’s private parts, so they would stop beating him. Those were the first instances.
When this incident happened, did he report to the school authorities?
He first told his younger sister (also a student in the school) about it. The younger sister then called her elder sister, who had just passed out of the school, and reported that Sylvester was behaving funny and it seemed like some people were beginning to influence him. So, the elder sister called him and scolded him, wanting to hear his own side of the story. He told the sister that they beat him. She asked, “Who are ‘they’?” He mentioned their names. He said that was the reason he said he saw her nakedness so that they would stop beating him.
News had filtered around the school that Sylvester said he had seen his sister’s private parts and all that. It was really embarrassing, which was why the elder sister called a relative who went to the school on the day of a midterm break. When the relative picked Sylvester up, she found out from their conversation that some seniors had beaten him up. But when the elder sister was there, we didn’t get any such reports of beatings.
Before now, there was an incident that happened involving one of the boys in this latest incident. The incident happened before the elder sister finished from the school. She was the one who told me about it. It was a minor senior-junior case. You know some of these people can be very power-drunk; the fact that they are seniors gets into their heads and messes them up. The Michael boy was in SS1 then. This Michael and his group had wanted to harass Sylvester but some of the classmates of the elder sister saved him. Maybe, after the elder finally passed out of the school, these boys felt it was their time for revenge on Sylvester.
Did you report this to the school?
Yes, we did. We called the guardian, Mr Ahmed, first to ask him how come he was unaware of all of the things that happened to my son. The school’s response was that they had suspended these seniors who bullied Sylvester. So, we let the matter rest. We didn’t ask again because we thought that was the appropriate treatment.
What happened next?
Sylvester went back to school, and the school authorities moved him from that hostel because of that complaint. So, he was not staying with those senior boys again. The incident that finally led to his demise began on Monday (November 22). The school’s sickbay (manager) called my wife that Sylvester was not feeling well, that he couldn’t sleep throughout the night. They asked that she should come and pick him up. When she asked them what happened, they said, “He said he fell. He said he was playing football and fell.” We don’t know how this happened till today.
They said it was Sylvester that told them that he was playing football at the basketball court and fell. We later learnt that the school did not have a proper field, so students play soccer on the basketball court.
The first thing he (Sylvester) told us was that someone ‘kicked his leg’ when he was playing. All these things he was telling us, he did so, as we later learnt, because he was scared of those senior students, who had threatened to kill him if he told his parents or the school authorities what really transpired.
When did your wife go to pick him up?
By the time they called that Monday it was already late for my wife to travel to Lagos, so we told the school that a friend of the family would come to pick him up. The following day, the family friend, a young man, went to pick him up and when he saw Sylvester, he was surprised. He quickly called us and told us that our son could not walk, that if they touched him, he would shout in pain. His lips had also begun to peel. The pictures are everywhere.
Initially, we thought it was fever or malaria since we hadn’t seen him physically as we were still in Delta State. He was taken for an X-ray because he could not walk. On Wednesday, one of my older sons went from Warri to join them in Lagos to really ascertain what the situation was. It was when he got there that he realised that it was serious and requested that I join them in Lagos.
I was in Asaba at the time and it was already late that day, so I joined them the following day, which was Thursday. When I saw Sylvester, as a father, I couldn’t bear it; I asked if I could move him to Warri for proper treatment. I asked him to tell me what had happened, Sylvester kept saying, “I fell!”
But before he could even manage to say that he would tremble. I knew that was not his real self; something was not right about him. He was being threatened. He couldn’t move; he couldn’t eat. We had to assist him to the toilet. Any part of his body you touched, he would shout.
Since there was no flight that day, we had to go by the road. That was Friday. I called a masseur to check him up, but that one said there were no dislocations. But my son’s waist and ribs were physically swollen. His chest and shoulders were also swollen. When we got to the hospital and the doctor took a sample, he said Sylvester was having fever and malaria. But my son kept shouting, “My throat! My throat!”
We treated him for malaria till Sunday but he still couldn’t walk, sleep or eat. It was the drip they gave him that sustained him for those days. On Monday, it became so severe between of 11pm and 12pm. That was when he opened up to us. He said he was scared, that the senior boys had threatened to kill him if he exposed them.
Sylvester said he was in his room one night and some five senior boys entered the room and put off the light. He said they beat him with a belt and kicked him till he fell to the ground. When he did, they continued to torture him. After the beating, they forced him to drink something and he did. He couldn’t explain what it was. This explains the peeling of his mouth.
What did you do next?
We had to take him for a scan and another X-ray which showed that he had a swollen liver and some of his internal organs were also swollen. The next day, I took him to the teaching hospital. Before we got to Warri, he had given up the ghost. So, we couldn’t take him to the hospital again.
Did he mention the names of these boys before his death?
Yes, he did.
Did you take this up with the school?
My eldest son who is abroad contacted the school immediately to register his complaint. He called Mr Ahmed, and he said Ahmed was crying. They took the phone to the principal of the school and mentioned that he wanted to speak to those boys. He was then questioning them, and since it was a video call, he was able to capture their faces in a screenshot.
What was the response of the school?
They called the boys to question them and they gave the same lie my son had been telling before his passing – he fell. The school chose to believe these lies without due investigation. You must have seen their press statement. That is what they maintained until we started sending out these videos and pictures we made of Sylvester when we saw him. The principal called me, asking why I was sending out these pictures all over social media. The Lagos State Government also asked about the videos and we sent them. The boys still refuse to say the truth even in the face of striking evidence.
I heard one of them jumped over the fence yesterday (Thursday). The other boy’s parents, as I heard, came in with a very long convoy around 5am and took him away. The boy carried all his things and joined his parents, who were waiting in the car. I don’t know how true that is, but that was the information my sources fed me with. They feel they are big men. The school authorities would provide them when the time comes. They should keep running. After killing my son, they want to run away. I am just thankful that my son, before he gave up the ghost, mentioned their names. If they allow them to escape, this means they are encouraging that kind of nonsense in their school.
What are your demands?
I want justice. They should invite those boys. They should invite the school authorities. The government should question them and take action.
The Lagos State Government ordered the closure of the school on Friday. How does this make you feel?
I feel happy because that is the first thing to be done as there are other innocent people’s children in that place. If anything happens to those children, I won’t be happy. That I lost my own son does not mean that other people should die. It is also good that they have ordered a probe into the incident to ascertain what really went wrong.
How best would you describe your son?
My son was a very decent boy from a deeply-rooted Christian background. He was not the first child that I sent to Dowen College, Lagos. I had four of them attend that school of which two had finished. The very first one who left is presently abroad. The other one just sat this last WASSCE and she’s here with me. The other one should be in SS1. I asked that he be withdrawn from the school two days ago. Sylvester was the last boy.
How is your wife taking all of this?
She can hear you but she is almost crying. All of us couldn’t sleep. We had to take sleeping pills before we could sleep last night. It has been a really tough time for the family. That boy was our star and light, such a lovely young boy. When I look at the picture I took with him just two months ago when my daughter graduated, it breaks me.