The Lagos State Government has ordered the indefinite closure of Dowen College, a secondary school located in Lekki, a highbrow area of the state.
The closure of the school is a response to the controversies surrounding the death of a 12-year-old student, Sylvester Oromoni Jnr, whose parents insisted was violently abused by senior students of the school for allegedly refusing to join a “secret cult” in the school.
The announcement was contained in a statement issued by the state’s ministry of education on Friday and signed by an assistant director, public affairs unit of the ministry, Ganiu Lawal.
According to the statement, a copy of which was obtained by PREMIUM TIMES on Friday, the state’s commissioner for education, Folasade Adefisayo, made the announcement “after a meeting with the School Management and Staff.”
“The Lagos State Government has ordered the indefinite closure of Dowen College, Lekki , pending the outcome of an investigation into the death of Sylvester Oromoni Jnr, a student of the school,” the statement reads in part, adding that; “The commissioner called for calm, saying no effort will be spared in getting to the root of the incident.”
The new directive is a follow-up to an earlier statement issued by the ministry which condoled the bereaved family and pledged commitment to unravel the mystery surrounding the controversial death.
PREMIUM TIMES reported earlier on Friday how officials of the office of the education quality assurance unit of the ministry visited the school on Thursday and were conducted round the facilities including the academic and hostel areas.
Also on Thursday, when PREMIUM TIMES’ reporter visited the school, many parents and guardians were also spotted at the school to check on their wards, even as they refused to comment on the matter.
Some parents who also assembled within the school compound also spoke in hushed voices.
But late Thursday evening, new video clips of the deceased who was visibly writhing in pain, surfaced on social media, with his parents raining curses on those they accused of inflicting injuries on their child.
TheCable newspapers also exclusively obtained additional information from the bereaved parents, narrating the details of the pain the late student went through and more information about the circumstances that led to his death.
But the school management has consistently denied the existence of a cult group on the campus, saying the information at its disposal was that the student was injured while playing football.
On Wednesday, the late Master Oromoni’s ‘cousin’- Perrison Oromoni, had taken to social media to call out the names of some students of the school whom he accused of being responsible for the harassment and the eventual death of the junior secondary school student.
Mr Oromoni took to his Twitter handle @Perrisonoromoni to narrate how his late cousin was allegedly battered on Friday, November 26 at the school before he eventually died on Tuesday, November 3.
He said a series of tests and X-rays conducted on him showed that he sustained internal injuries from beatings he received from the students.
The accuser listed some students (names withheld) whom he accused of ‘mistreating’ the late student’ over his refusal to join an unnamed cult group.
Explaining further on social media, Mr Oromoni said the Dowen School management then called Sylvester’s father, Sylvester Oromoni, telling them that his son sustained injuries while playing football at the school.
Meanwhile, a statement that also went viral on social media on Wednesday, and which was allegedly signed by the school principal, Adebisi Layiwola, expressed surprise at the allegation.
The statement reads in part; “On the 21st day of November 2021, one of the Hostel Parents reported to the management that the young boy was injured while playing football. The resident registered nurse immediately administered first aid on him and after he expressed relief, was released to return to his hostel room.
“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.”
The statement claims that in accordance with the school’s policy, “the resident doctor called the deceased’s mother reporting the incident and requesting that she should come for him so that he could get further medical attention”.
“The mother, however, said she was not in Lagos while she spoke and prayed with him on the phone and promised to send the guardian to pick him up immediately for further medical attention.
“When the guardian failed to show up, the next day on the 23rd of November 2021, the doctor called the mother again and this time, she assured that his guardian would pick him from school.”
Parents write police
Meanwhile, on Friday, TheCable newspaper reported the harrowing experiences of the bereaved parents, and the petition addressed by the parents to the Lagos State police command and a plan to send another to the Force Headquarters in Abuja.
According to the newspaper, the parents eventually transferred their deceased son to Delta State where a series of tests conducted and ”last-minute open confessions” by the deceased allegedly confirmed that he was molested and violently abused by five senior students in the school.
According to the newspaper, the bereaved father, Mr Oromoni, said his son 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,” the newspaper reported.
It further quoted the father as saying; “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 foodstuff; clothes. I have two daughters, one of whom graduated earlier. I had to remove the second after this incident. They asked this boy to describe the sister’s privates and this got to us…
“Junior said, ‘mummy, I didn’t play ball; I didn’t fall.’ He jumped off his hostel bed. They kicked him, matched (marched on) 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.”
PREMIUM TIMES is yet to verify these claims.