Sunday, 05 December 2021 04:18

Dowen College: Late pupil’s father vows to delay burial till family gets justice

Sylvester Oromoni Snr, the father of a Junior Secondary School two pupil of Dowen College, Lekki, Lagos, Sylvester Oromoni Jnr, has vowed not to bury his son until justice is served.

This is just as the family marked the deceased’s 12th birthday posthumously on Saturday during which a cake designed as airplane and pilot uniform was cut in memory of his ambition.

The news of Sylvester Jnr’s death went viral on Wednesday following a social media post by his cousin, Perry Oromoni, who alleged that some senior pupils of the college beat him up in his hostel room for refusing to join a cult.

But the school denied the claim, stating that the boy complained of pain in his legs and hip following an injury he sustained while playing football.

The Lagos State Government had shut down the school indefinitely to ensure thorough investigation.

Sylvester Snr, in an interview with one of our correspondents on Saturday, said his son would not be buried until justice was served – no matter how long it takes.

He said, “How can he be buried? I cannot bury him until I get justice, until I get to the end of the matter. Even if it takes two or three years, we would be going on. I pray God keep us alive.”

According to the father, about 100 people were present at the posthumous birthday celebration marked with two cakes and a large picture frame of the late Sylvester in various poses.

The father said, “For his birthday today (Saturday), we cut the cakes, displayed his pictures and prayed for his soul to rest in peace. We also went for a church programme after cutting the birthday cakes.

“His sister based in the United State of America asked one of her friends to bake a pilot-themed cake for his birthday because he had always wanted to be a pilot.”

Sylvester Snr however said he would miss his son’s rapport, smiles, love, presence and company.

He said, “Anytime he comes on holiday and I am at home, he is always all over me. We eat together, he asks questions a lot; he is very inquisitive. He can operate his laptop very well and I don’t know how to do that so he guides me on how to do it.”

Also celebrating the posthumous birthday on her Instagram page, a Nigerian actress, Tonto Dikeh, said she would “drop flowers and gifts” at the school’s gate.

She also posted a video of a man dropping a bouquet of flowers and a Teddy bear at the school’s gate and a card with the words, “Happy birthday Captain Sylvester. Rest in Peace Champ! You are celebrated. King Tonto.”

Meanwhile, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State has backed the indefinite closure of the school.

Okowa, in a  Facebook post on Saturday morning, expressed sadness over the incident and condoled with the family of the deceased.

Okowa wrote, “Last night, I spoke to Mr. Sylvester Oromoni, the father of the 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 to serve as a very strong deterrence against future occurrences.”

Similarly, Deputy President of the Senate, Ovie Omo-Agege, in a statement on Saturday by his media aide, Yomi Odunuga, commended the Lagos State Government for shutting down the school, expressing shock and sadness over the death of Sylvester Jnr.

He said, “The closure of the school will help children, who are back home, to share their experiences with their parents and guardians. They are in the safety of their homes where they fear no immediate reprisals of the revelations.

“The incident is one too many as it reminds us of how children in schools are subjected to dehumanising treatments, with some losing their lives in the process. My profound condolences to the Oromoni family and it is my prayer that God will give the family the fortitude to bear this irreparable loss.”

Meanwhile, the Ijaw Youth Council has demanded justice for the late pupil.

The IYC, in a statement on Saturday by its national spokesman, Ebilade Ekerefe, also called on the Lagos State Government to suspend the operating licence of the college to serve as a deterrent to other schools.

Ekerefe further demanded the arrest of the principal of the college, pupils mentioned and staff members involved in the alleged attempt to change the narrative that led to the boy’s death.

He said, “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 also demand from the Lagos State Government and the Ministry of Education that the operating licence 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.”

Ekerefe urged the police and other security agencies to be professional and not to compromise the investigation.

Also, the National Association of Delta Ijaw Students has issued a two-week ultimatum to the Lagos State Government and Dowen College to bring the alleged killers of Sylvester Oromoni to book.

This was contained in a statement on Saturday jointly signed by NADIS President and Secretary, Ayigo Festus and Brisibe Godgift respectively.

[Punch]

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