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Oromoni: Father rejects Coroner Inquest judgment

The judgment of the Coroner Inquest on the death of 12-year-old student of Dowen College, Lekki, Sylvester Junior, has been rejected by the father, Mr Sylvester Oromoni Snr.

 

He argued that it was not the end of the case, as the medical expert did not give them a concluding result of the black substance that was found in their son’s stomach.

The Coroner Inquest that looked into the findings of the death of Sylvester Oromoni Jnr, had, on Monday, exonerated Dowen College and the five students who were accused of bullying, beating, and forcing the deceased to drink a substance that allegedly caused his death and indicted the deceased’s parents and family doctor of negligence.

Oromoni died on November 30, 2021.

Immediately after the judgment, the deceased’s father in an interview with journalists said the medical expert did not give them a concluding result.

“They said they saw a substance inside the body of the deceased. Was it tested, it wasn’t tested. This is not the end of the case. As far as I am concerned it does not represent a true proceeding of the evidence taken,” he said.

When asked about his next action and if he would appeal the judgment, he said, “Don’t worry, I will consult my lawyer.

“If you send a child to school, a distant school, who is to take care of the child in the school? Is it not the principal and the doctor of the school?

“If you say that it is the doctor after five days that is supposed to take care of the child and that the doctor here and the school principal are exempted, who is the immediate parent of the boy?” he queried.

The deceased’s family lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), while reacting to the judgment of the Coroner, stated that it was curious that the coroner ignored the evidence of the government pathologist that the “black substance” found in the stomach of the deceased was not subjected to toxicological examination. The allegation was that the deceased was forced to drink a poisonous substance.

According to him, “The acting Director of Public Prosecution of Lagos State at the material time had recommended that some staff and students be prosecuted for criminal negligence over the bullying of students in the school.

“Four days later, the acting DPP turned around to say that there was no case to answer without any fresh evidence from the police investigators. The coroner ruled that the acting DPP had the power to withdraw her recommendations at any time!

“The doctors who testified stated that the deceased died of sepsis and that the sepsis could have been caused by excessive massaging of the leg of the deceased.

“The coroner conveniently overlooked the fact that the school doctor and the nurses massaged the leg of the deceased for two days before inviting his parents to take him home.

“In an attempt to exonerate Dowen College, the coroner was silent on the overwhelming evidence of the bullying of the deceased, his sister, and other students by the same set of students.

Dowen’s lawyer, Anthony Popo, said what had happened was an unravelling of atupostriry of life and painstaking attention to details by the Coroner, who spent so much time, over 900 pages of records of proceedings and that he produced the truth in line with logic, and in line with science.

“It is unfortunate that innocent young boys almost had their lives irreversibly destroyed because of lies. It is a good thing that we all had the opportunity before the Coroner and the verdict has come strong, exonerated Dowen College of over 23 years and all the Dowen students,” he said.

Recall, the coroner, Magistrate Mikhail Kadiri, in his judgment at the Ogba Magistrate Court, held that Dowen College, its staff members, and the five students namely, Favour Benjamin, 16; Edward Begue (16); Ansel Temile (14); Kenneth Inyang and Michael Kashamu, 16, son of the late Senator Buruji Kashamu, did not play any role that led to the death of Oromoni.

He cleared the school of any negligence and the five senior students accused of bullying the deceased and administering a poisonous substance to him.

He said, “The alleged suspects played no part in Sylvester’s death but were victims of their past misdeeds. They were falsely accused, and no staff of Dowen College played any role in the death. The school has improved its facilities since the incident.

“The claims of chemical intoxication were never proven, and the faces of those allegedly bullying the deceased weren’t seen. The alleged confession of Sylvester was denied by several witnesses. Even if he was beaten, it didn’t lead to his death.”

He said that the deceased played football on November 20, 2021, and his leg was massaged by his roommates and the school nurse.

Magistrate Kadiri, who conducted the inquest while revealing his findings, said the death was avoidable.

Kadiri, who stopped at intervals to weep about the death of Oromoni, said the teenager‘s death was avoidable and as well as caused by the negligence of the parents and the family doctor, Aghogho Owhojede, who didn’t take him to the hospital until the day he died on November 30, 2021.

The coroner broke down in tears several times while reading his findings and even rose at a point to comport himself, saying the case was touching but needed objectivity.

“The deceased went through an avoidable and excruciating pain and was made to suffer needlessly,” Kadiri said.

The Magistrate, while delivering his findings which lasted for more than six hours, said 32 witnesses testified in the coroner’s inquest which started sitting in January 2022.

Among the evidence the coroner relied on included the findings of two autopsies conducted on the deceased at the Central Hospital, Warri, Delta State, with only the family present, and at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, where about 10 pathologists representing various parties including the family, Lagos State Government and Dowen College took part in.

“He said that the autopsy conducted on December 14, 2021, in the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital by Dr. Sunday Soyemi and the toxicology report of post-mortem samples of the Central Hospital, Warri Delta State conducted by Pathologist Consultant Dr Clement Vhriterhire were in agreement as to the cause of death namely, Septicemia, Lobar Pneumonia with Acute Pyelonephritis, Pyomyositis of the right ankle and Acute Bacteria Pneumonia due to severe Sepsis.

“Death was caused by Septicaemia (a life-threatening health condition caused by a patient’s body’s response to an infection), following infections of the lungs and kidneys arising from the ankle wound,” he said.

According to him, “No evidence of blunt force trauma in this body. The findings in the oesophagus and stomach are not compatible with chemical intoxication. Death, in this case, is natural.”

Dr Sunday Soyemi, who led the Lagos procedure, stated in the autopsy report that sepsis, which led to the death of the boy, could have been treated with “massive doses of intravenous antibiotic, intravenous fluid and blood transfusion”, but which was never done.

From the evidence, Sylvester was said to have sustained an injury on his ankle between November 20 and 21. Following first aid treatment, the school contacted his parents to come and pick him up for further treatment.

The deceased’s guardian, Mr Clifford Tejere, was sent on November 23, 2021, to the school to pick him up and took him for an X-ray, but no fracture was detected.

The family doctor, Aghogho, was also lambasted for not providing the required duty of care for the patient whose home care treatment was “trivialised”.

“I do not believe the version of the family doctor, Aghogho’s evidence.

“Despite early diagnosis, the doctor (Aghogho), was found to have abandoned the deceased for more than 32 hours and didn’t carry out an X-ray and scan early enough which would have revealed his deteriorating condition,” he said.

The coroner also recommended that parents should not treat their children’s health with levity, as well as ensure better synergy between police and medical teams in such matters.

He also called for proper psychological evaluation for the five students suspected to have bullied the deceased.

 

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