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Lagos shuts down Dowen College over student’s death, begins investigation

Dowen College

*commiserates with family of deceased child, school mgt reacts

Benjamin Omoike

Following huge public outcry and controversy which have continued to trail the death of a 12-year-old male student of Dowen College in Lekki axis, Sylvester Oromoni Jnr, the Lagos State Government has shut down the school indefinitely.

The government said that the school would remain closed pending the outcome of the ongoing investigation the Nigerian Police and its agencies have embarked upon to unravel circumstances surrounding the death of Oromoni Jnr.

The closure came hours after the State Government commenced investigations into the former student’s death, to ascertain if the claims made by the family were true or not and to determine the role played by the school management after the deceased was said to have sustained injuries within the school premises.

Announcing the closure on Friday, after a meeting with the school management and staff, Commissioner for Education, Folasade Adefisayo, said the move was to give room for adequate investigations on the former student’s death.

Through the statement made available by the Head of Public Affairs for the Ministry, Ganiu Lawal, the Commissioner appealed to Nigerians, particularly Lagosians, for calm, saying no effort will be spared in getting to the root of the incident.

Earlier, Adefisayo explained that investigations would unravel what led to the injuries sustained by the deceased and other details needed to help establish the truth in the case, after the family and the school management began to trade words.

She hinted that preliminary investigations revealed that the deceased was indeed enrolled as a student of the College in its boarding facility and that he was treated by the school’s medical personnel after sustaining the injuries.

The Commissioner stated that it was after the treatment that the school management requested that the parents took the former student away for further care.

According to her, “we reassure the family of the late Sylvester Oromoni Junior and Lagosians at large, that efforts are being made to unravel the circumstances leading to his demise, even as we reiterate the government’s commitment to Child Protection.”

Adefisayo noted that after commencing the investigations, the state government delegation comprising top-level management of relevant Ministries, Departments, and Agencies, as well as the Police, have visited the school on a fact-finding mission.

The Commissioner, meanwhile, described Oromoni Jnr’s death as shocking, stating that “the government was indeed sad about this great loss.”

Meanwhile, reports say the state government had commenced investigations to unravel the circumstances surrounding the death of the late Sylvester Oromoni Jnr, in the state.

This was contained in a statement made available to newsmen by the Head of Public Affairs Unit for the ministry, Ganiu Lawal, barely three days after the former student died at a medical facility in Lagos.

It was reported that earlier, the school management had denied allegations that the former student, who was in Junior Secondary School II, was tortured to death for refusing to join a cult group.

The family had alleged that Oromoni suffered internal injuries afterwards, and died while receiving treatment in a hospital within the state.

However, a statement by Dowen College’s Principal, Adebisi Layiwola, said: “The whole incident was strange and unbelievable because the school had effective anti-bullying policies and consequences are well spelt out to all the students.

The preliminary investigation showed that there was no fighting, bullying or any form of attack on the boy.

He made no such reports, neither his sister, who is also a student or any other students, prefects, house parents, medical staff, or any of the management staff.

“The school has two regular nurses and a qualified medical doctor that promptly attends to students’ medical needs and the resident doctor followed the laid down procedure by inviting his mother to take him home for further treatment after initial treatment by the school’s medical staff.

“On the 21st day of November 2021, one of the Hostel Parents reported to 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.

“In accordance with school policy, the resident doctor called his mother reporting the incident and requesting that she come for him so that he could get further medical attention.

The mother, however, said she was not in Lagos. 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.

His guardian showed up and took him for X-ray, after which the guardian informed the school management that the results of the investigation revealed that no part of his body was broken or injured.

The resident doctor also called the mother later in the week to check up on his progress but she informed the doctor that he was sleeping at the time.”

Furthermore, the principal said she also spoke with the mother on the phone to enquire about his progress and she was told that he was having a massage, adding that the boy spoke to him on phone.

The statement continued: “As a result, it came as no small shock to us to read on the social media that he was beaten by some students and that he specifically mentioned some names.

We immediately commenced investigations and invited the students allegedly mentioned for an interview. His guardian was also present during the interviews, which revealed that nothing of such happened.

“The school has a very cordial relationship with the family as he is the fifth child of the family Dowen College has the privilege to train, including his elder sister who is currently a student at the school.

“Furthermore, we state categorically Dowen College is built on core values of godliness and excellence and will not tolerate any acts of cultism, which is why there is nothing like that and there have never been such deviant activities going on, as this is a faith-based school and effective policies are in place to prevent such occurrence.

“We are deeply saddened by the death of this young man who had such a bright future ahead of him. We extend our deepest sympathy and heartfelt condolences to his beloved family, relatives, friends, classmates, and the alumni family at this very difficult time.”

In a related development, the state government in a statement by the state Ministry of Education, said it has commiserated with the family of the deceased child.

The statement reads: “Lagos State Government sends its condolences to the parents of 12-year-old Sylvester Oromoni Jnr., a student of Dowen College, Lekki.

“The Commissioner for Education, Mrs. Folasade Adefisayo, notes that this incident is shocking and the State is indeed sad about this great loss.

A delegation comprising top-level management of relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies and the Police, has visited the school on a fact-finding mission.

Preliminary investigations revealed that Sylvester Oromoni Junior was indeed enrolled as a student of Dowen College in its boarding facility and had been treated by the school’s medical personnel before the school requested that the parents take him away for further care. The State Government is in touch with the parents in this difficult time.

“We reassure the family of the late Sylvester Oromoni Junior and Lagosians at large that efforts are being made to unravel the circumstances leading to his demise, even as we reiterate the Government’s commitment to Child Protection.”

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