Now it is not just the event but also the circumstances surrounding the death of Sylvester Oromoni, 12 years old student of Dowen College in Lekki, Lagos, which has generated widespread reactions. The story became the most trending issue in Nigeria within the past few days.
The story took off after the cousin of the late Sylvester who goes by the name Perrison Oromoni came online with a picture of his late little cousin, stating that he died as a result of complications arising from being bullied by some students in school. It appears the late Sylvester cared more about getting well than naming his bullies as he only mentioned their names when he was about to die.
Who knows if Perrison had not made that post, maybe Sylvester’s death would have been just one like many others where students die unnatural death in schools without becoming news?
What did the administration of Dowen College do once the incidence came to light? It released a report detailing how the late Sylvester was injured while playing football and was subsequently treated by the school nurse and doctor. In the statement the school reeled out how it called on the parents of Sylvester to come for him when he was not getting any better. The letter even subtly described how the parents did not come immediately to pick Sylvester after being informed of his health; this looks like trying to pass a soft blame on the parents.
The statement that Sylvester got injured while playing football is quite laughable. Was the field filled with stones to cause the bruised lips of Sylvester or is the ball played in the air where a fall will cause grave injuries. On the surface one would not blame the Dowen administration as they were only saying what the students, including Sylvester, told them.
It turns out that it was the alleged bullies who told the students (witnesses) to dish out the football injury story. So should we forgive Dowen for not having discernment to see beyond the cover up or is it just a pretentious ignorance? Let their conscience answer.
A Response Cast in Stone
Dowen College is not the first school where a student has died due to poor management of issues; it has happened and is still happening in many schools across Nigeria. One common feature with all schools where cases like this occur is that the school always uses the self-absorption strategy to respond.
First, the school will release a statement claiming to be unaware of what transpired; sometimes it is kind enough to tender an apology. When nothing is heard after that, the case dies and is forgotten, but if there is still public pressure through the media and other means, the school come out to say that investigation is still going on and that findings will be made public.
Taiwo Akinlami, a family and social development lawyer in an interview on Arise TV made some shocking revelations of many incidents like that of Sylvester Oromoni going on in boarding schools across the country. There was a case where a student had a head injury and the school had no medical establishment to treat him, the closest hospital to the school is almost a 2 hours drive from the school and in a bid to take the bleeding student there, he died on the way.
Research shows that schools which have been in situations like this more often than not respond with inhumane cunny. It shows desperation on the schools part to preserve or escape from something. This might mean that even if the victim is a child of the school proprietor, the same response will be given as it is now clear that this something is worth more than any human life.
New reports reveal that 3 students have died in Dowen this year already, with the death of Sylvester bringing it up to 4. Is Dowen now a doyen of darkness?
One would want to say that the bullies did not intend to kill Sylvester as bullying is a common trend across Nigerian boarding schools, but not when we consider that he was forced to drink something, probably poisonous. The trending phrase #justiceforSylvester should not become just a cliché which comes and goes like the rest before it. It is definitely a hard time for everyone involved; his family and also families of those fingered in his death. Honest and thorough investigation must be conducted into bringing the case to a comforting closure.
Justice in this case will send a message across Nigeria that it is no longer business as usual. Concerted efforts should be made to make bullying a thing of the past in our schools. It is a responsibility for everyone; parents, school administrators, teachers, students and even the government.