The father of Sylvester Oromoni Junior, a 12-year-old student of Dowen College in Lagos State, has narrated how his son was tortured and fed a chemical by his colleagues for refusing to join a cult group in the school.
KanyiDaily recalls that a cousin of the deceased, Perrison Onomoni, who broke the news on his Twitter handle, had alleged that Sylvester was beaten to death by five students over his refusal to join their cult group.
Perrison explained that the boy was battered on Friday but later died on Tuesday after a series of tests and X-rays indicated that he sustained internal injuries.
He said that after Sylvester’s death, the school management had reached out to the deceased’s father and told him that his boy sustained injuries while playing football at the school.
Reacting to the allegation, Dowen College debunked claims that Sylvester was beaten to death by suspected cultists in the school, claiming that the deceased sustained injuries while playing football.
The Management of Dowen College insisted that preliminary investigation conducted by the school authorities revealed that there was no fighting, bullying or any form of attack on Sylvester.
The school claimed that one of the hostel parents reported that the boy was injured while playing football, and a resident registered nurse immediately administered first aid on him and later called the student’s mother to inform her of the situation.
Subsequently, the student complained of having pains in his hip and was attended to again, this time by a doctor and a nurse, and thereafter the resident doctor called his mother requesting that she come for him so that he could get further medical attention.
The school further said it had carried out a preliminary investigation before the boy’s death and confirmed that there was no case of bullying as no part of his body was broken or injured, adding that it has policies that are strongly anti-cultism.
Sylvester Oromoni Junior’s Father Speaks
In an interview with TheCable, Sylvester’s father dismissed the claims made by the school management, saying that his son was tortured and fed a liquid substance for refusing to join the cult group, adding that the boy suffered liver enlargement due to congealed blood.
He said, 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; 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 privates and this got to us.”
Oromoni’s family said Dowen had temporarily suspended the boys involved after the family’s eldest son took it up. He said Junior was also switched to a new hostel but the bullying and intimidation persisted into the new term.
He 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 along 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.”
Junior’s final ‘confession’
Oromoni said the family flew the deceased to Warri where blood tests and an x-ray were conducted. He said Junior also underwent typhoid/malaria treatments but his mouth started peeling in excess of malaria drug side effects. The bereaved said the deceased only managed to sleep one hour when sedated and would wake up screaming in pain. The father added it was on November 29, when he was away for a government function, that Junior “opened up”.
Oromoni said Junior, before his death, revealed he neither played ball nor tripped as claimed. He also alleged that the deceased stated that five boys had barged into his room, put off the lights, and beat him up in the presence of other students.
“Junior said, ‘mummy, I didn’t play ball; I didn’t fall.’ He jumped off his hostel bed. They kicked him, matched his waist. Other students ran off. They threatened to kill them all if they spoke a word to the school staff. They warned Junior to say he sustained injuries while playing ball. They threatened him. If you ask the roommate, they’d all lie. They matched his ribs and waist. All that pain for a 12-year-old,” he said, trailing off into a soft sob over the phone.
The father said Junior suffered liver enlargement due to congealed blood. He said, before he could make a return trip to Warri towards facilitating Junior’s transfer to the teaching hospital, the boy drew what became his last breath.
It was also claimed that Junior was fed a liquid substance described as “a chemical” for refusing to join the group.
Autopsy next as accused students ‘withdraw’ from school
Oromoni alleged that the principal frowned at him for releasing the deceased boy’s picture to the press. He said she had premised her argument on the deceased being a minor. He also said he looks forward to an autopsy, arguing that Dowen should be more concerned about going after the boys Junior had named as his assailants before death.
The boy’s father said: “They even released a press statement. Was the principal there when the boy played the said football game? Can they identify who he played with? Where was the housemaster when he was playing it? The woman too is confused. Clearly, she’s trying to protect the school’s image. But a mother of children wants to hide the truth?”
“I won’t reveal the steps we’ve taken to seek justice. The parents of the boys are wealthy. They withdrew them. The school called the parents to pick their wards; interviewed them. Some of the parents are planning to fly the children out of the country. How can Dowen allow those boys to leave the school without informing the police? The boys are five in number: four are in SS2 while one is in SS1. When the result comes, Nigerians will know the truth.”
It was gathered that the family petitioned Hakeem Odumosu, the Lagos commissioner of police, on December 2. Another petition addressed to the inspector-general of police (IGP) will follow on December 6 for a full-scale probe.
Dowen College Speaks
Jerry Adeyemi, Dowen’s director of admissions, spoke to TheCable Lifestyle on behalf of the principal in the presence of two alumni members who took to the school just after the news broke.
He said, “As you read in the press statement, everything is explained. We’re in contact with the family. The notice of the police has been called. The ministry of education is here. We’ve had an interaction. An investigation was done. We spoke to his mates, seniors, and juniors. They said there was no bullying in this particular incident. I’ve been here for more than 23 years. There is no cultism in Dowen College. Students will laugh if you mention it.
“The school is not located in a bush where a cult would typically meet in secrete. We’re in an estate where there’s no room for secrecy. Parents will naturally come and go. Everyone is concerned. It’s expected. We are all worried.”
He said the withdrawal of the accused boys was “for their safety” since their names were “mentioned” online. He said they only had to go home temporarily, not withdrawing from the school as claimed by the bereaved parents.
KanyiDaily had earlier published a video showing the 12-year-old boy, Sylvester Onomoni Junior writhing in pain while bleeding from his mouth, his teeth seems broken with some sort of candida Albicans appearing on the tip of his lips.