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Appraising bullying, cultism in secondary schools: The Sylvester Oromoni Jnr story

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A JUNIOR Secondary School form two pupil at Dowen College, Lekki, Lagos, Sylvester Oromoni (Jnr), would have added another year to his age last Saturday, but he died a day to his 12th birthday following complications from physical abuse in the school by a group of senior students for allegedly refusing to join a cult group in the school.

  THE story of Sylvester (Jnr)’s painful last moments with his parents and his death is unbearably traumatic and unimaginable to everyone. Since the news broke last week in a viral video shared by the family, showing how Sylvester was writhing in pain while bleeding from his mouth with his lips appearing swollen and his teeth broken, the most popular stream in Nigerian media is bullying in schools.

    ACCORDING to his father, Sylvester Omoroni, the deceased told him, that he and some other pupils were in their room in the hostel when a group of five boys entered, switched off the light and started hitting and marching him. The deceased mentioned the names of five persons who are also pupils of Dowen College, Lekki, who he said were allegedly responsible for his injuries before he finally died.

   SYLVESTER also alleged that he was given a substance in a  bottle to drink by the bullies, according to his parents.

  MEANWHILE, Dowen College Management in a statement claimed the deceased sustained injuries while playing football and was given immediate medical attention by the school’s medical personnel. The school denied that Sylvester was bullied or attacked by some students in the school and said it had carried out a preliminary investigation, in which its officials claimed that there was no case of bullying, adding that it has policies that are strongly anti-cultism.

    AS AT Monday, the father of the deceased pupil revealed that he’s yet to receive a call from the Dowen College.

    IN AN interview with Arise News on Monday, he disclosed that till that moment, neither the housemaster,  the school nor its teachers have called to console him over the death of his son.

  HE STATED that it’s only the JSS1 teacher that called to check up on him, adding that the only time he spoke with the principal was when she called to express displeasure over the fact that he shared photos of the deteriorated state of the boy online.

  ALREADY, the family of the late  Sylvester Jnr has hired the popular human rights lawyer and activist, Femi Falana, to prosecute the case against the institution over the unfortunate death of their son and to kick start the case, Falana has written to the office of Lagos State’s Chief Coroner, requesting an inquest into the circumstances leading to the death of Sylvester.

  THE Lagos State Government, on Sunday, sealed off Dowen College in the Lekki area of the state over the death, even as  National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), South-West Zone, has set up a fact-finding committee to look into the matter and vowed to take up the case and ensure that justice prevails, while various individuals and groups across the country, including the wife of Lagos State Governor and  Ijaw Monitoring Group (IMG), among others have reacted to the development, while some Dowen College students have been arrested by the police. The House of Representatives in Abuja has also urged the Inspector- General of Police to take over the case.

  SYLVESTER’S case is just one out of many cases of bullying in schools across the country. For example, a 14-year-old student of Premier Academy, Lugbe, Abuja, Karen-Happuch Aondodoo Akpagher was allegedly raped in her school. She died from complications resulting from the rape on June 22, 2021.

  13-YEAR-OLD Junior Secondary School II student of the Federal Government College, Kwali, Abuja, Nuhu Yahaya was allegedly beaten to death by his teacher over failure of the student to do his assignment. He died on Monday, August 9, 2021.

  A FEMALE Boarding School student died in Lugbe, Abuja, this year, and it was later established that she had a condom in her sexual organ, which pointed to a possible case of sexual exploitation.

  THE stories are so numerous and these are just cases in which the victims or their families had courage to report.

  THE issue here is the negligence of school authorities and the state in protecting the minors and there is a higher number of such cases in high-paying schools where students are locked out of the reach of their parents. The worst is that majority of such schools are sited in such bushy and isolated areas that even if a wild animal launch an attack, it will eat up a lot of students before help would come and it appears as if the teachers are not giving enough protection and care or does it has to do with the quality of teachers in such schools or is it that the students’ population is higher than the teachers can handle?

  IF WE have teachers in schools and they cannot control students or guard them in conductive environments and yet, such schools are still admitting more students, where then do we train our children? Is it a function of school authorities and governments not doing their jobs?

  APPRAISING Sylvester’s case, other questions that beg for answers include: How did a group of boys go into a hostel where minors are, put off the light and bullied him, and despite his cries, nobody came to his rescue? Where were  other pupils? Where were the house masters? What happened the next day? Who were the boys? What is the level of complicity of the school authority? How did the boys get the substance they forced the boy to drink? What is really happening in the school?

  NATIONAL LIGHT finds it very outrageous that bullies and cultists operate in secondary schools and the school authorities appear to  condone them.  Using Sylvester’s case, we believe it’s high time a good example of action towards solution is made to  ensure safety and administrative sanity in schools. His death should bring an end to ugly situations in schools that could cause more lives of innocent children.

  WHILE we commend the Lagos State Government for shutting down the school for now, we urge them to expedite actions for further investigations for the sake of other innocent students. The boys  behind this act, no matter their ages, should face the law. If they are minors, they should be sent to rehabs before the full glare of cameras as lessons for others.

  SCHOOLS should be made to be more responsible and shouldn’t only be concerned with their  images like the Dowen College did in Sylvester’s case.  They should be made to understand that school management is not something done casually and with laiser fair attitudes. Otherwise, schools would keep recording casualties and incidents like this.

  HOUSE masters, mistresses and form teachers should be put on their feet and toes to inculcate the sense and spirit of brotherhood among students. It is also important that parents, staff and school management or board should always follow up on their  children’s behavior.

  WE URGE the state authorities to work towards ensuring that those who cannot run schools appropriately are not allowed to run them. They should ensure adequate supervision of schools and ensure that proprietors of schools are not only interested in the business growth of their schools while neglecting the character aspect of schooling. After all, education is not only about reading and writing but also has to do with formation of   good character.

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