After going through the legal advice released by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Lagos State Ministry of Justice in respect of the late Sylvester Oromoni of Dowen College, some questions kept agitating my mind.
This is so given the hoopla and uproar that greeted the news even before the public became aware of the facts. Most commentators rushed to conclusions based on the one-sided stories they were fed with and literally called for the heads of the accused.
Now that the legal advice from the DPP’s office is out and it has exonerated all the accused, what shall we say?
From one end, the students were accused of murder, involuntary manslaughter and maliciously administering poison with intent to harm. On the other hand, the school and its officials were accused of negligent acts causing harm.
There is God - Late Sylvester Oromoni's parents break silence on release of Dowen College students, staff
Recall that the legal advice was based on the facts contained in the duplicate case file sent to the DPP’s office by the Police. The two autopsy reports were conducted in Warri and Lagos respectively and witnessed by the Police and representatives of the families of the late Sylvester Oromoni and the accused students,even though the interim autopsy, which was witnessed by only the Oromonis and the Investigating Police Officer, had some missing gaps.
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Part of the document read that “the outcome of both post-mortem examinations conducted in Warri and Lagos were in agreement as to the cause of death, namely: Septicaemia, Lobar Pneumonia with Acute Pyelonephritis, Pyomyositis of the right ankle and Acute Bacteria Pneumonia due to severe Sepsis. The result of the Toxicology is also not indicative of any toxic or poisonous substance in the body of the deceased.”
Given the above findings and conclusions vis-à-vis the hue and cry that greeted the news of the alleged bullying and beating of the deceased, one is compelled to ask Mr Oromoni and his social media mob some questions:
1. While I empathize with the Oromonis on the painful but avoidable loss as a parent and fellow Deltan who supported in calling on the authorities to get to the root of this matter, I will be failing myself and my conscience if I do not point out some inconsistencies in the account of the incident when juxtaposed with the findings of the Police, the autopsy reports, the toxicology reports and the legal advice issued by the DPP.
2. Didn’t Mr Oromoni tell the whole world that his late son told him that he was beaten by the accused students? If true, at what point did the story change to the same being told to a “family friend” as disclosed in the Police report? From the report of Police investigation, the autopsy reports and toxicology results, the late Sylvester didn’t die as a result of trauma arising from beating. What do the Oromonis and their army of wailing wailers have to say about these findings?
3. In the viral interview that Mr Oromoni granted via Zoom, he claimed that his son was beaten by five boys whereas Police investigation and incontrovertible facts have established that two of the boys are day students while one of them was not in school the weekend that Sylvester was said to have been beaten. All these were verified by the Police and can still be confirmed by independent investigators who may be interested in this matter. Is it possible for day students to access the hostel or for someone who was released to go home over the weekend to be in school at the same time? Can someone be in two places at the same time? Has this singular fact not cast a big pall of doubt over the whole allegations?
4. From the autopsy report, it has been established that there was no single bruise on Sylvester’s body? Is it possible for five boys to beat a 12-year old with belts, kicking and slapping him as claimed by Mr Oromoni, without any physical injury on his body?
5. How come no one has corroborated Mr Oromoni’s account of the incident – be it a student, employee or parent?
6. When was the video that showed Sylvester limping recorded by the family?
7. On the 23rd of November, 2021 that Sylvester was released to his family, was he taken out of the school in an ambulance or did he walk by himself into the hostel to pack his belongings?
8. Also, where did the story of an attempt to initiate the deceased into a secret cult emanate from?
9. How about the alleged forceful ingestion of chemical substances?
10. Now that the results of the toxicology conducted by the pathologists in Warri and Lagos have said no toxic or poisonous substance was found in the body of the deceased, what do we make of these allegations?
11. Why wasn’t the late Sylvester taken to any hospital for proper medical attention by his parents either in Lagos or Warri? Why was the poor boy allegedly treated at home in Warri by an unnamed or invisible family doctor? Why was it just x-ray and scan that were done on him and on whose advice?
12. Do these lend credence to the insinuation that the Oromonis are members of Myeri Jesu, a religious group that does not encourage its members to seek medical attention?
13. Is it not safe to conclude that Mr Oromoni was negligent and therefore complicit in the death of his son?
Based on the Police report, the autopsy reports, the toxicology results and the DPP’s advice, the Oromonis still have a lot of questions to answer. They should provide convincing answers to the few questions that have been raised, then the others will follow. And if in good conscience, they cannot provide answers to these first set of questions, they should hold their peace and allow the soul of the poor boy to rest in peace, instead of further misleading Nigerians and whipping up sentiments that are lacking in details, facts and logic!
Ebikeme is a Warri-based public affairs analyst.
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