The Commissioner of Police, Lagos State, Mr. Hakeem Odumosu.
The events that have occurred since the unfortunate death of a 12 year old student of the Dowen College, Sylvester Oromoni have been as intriguing as they have been shocking. It seems though that some level of clarity or further confusion has been brought on the matter depending on the side of the clear divide that you belong to as the Lagos State Police Commissioner, Hakeem Odumosu has authorised a press release which we have decided to publish verbatim in order not to add to the many speculations that are abound over the matter. Here it is.
Gentlemen of the Press, I am compelled by necessity of duty and in the interest of justice, transparency and openness, to invite you here this afternoon to give an update on investigation carried out into the circumstances surrounding the death of Sylvester Oromoni Jnr, the 12- year-old student of Dowen College, Lekki.
The case has attracted comments and reactions from different quarters, individuals and parents insinuating a cover-up. The comments, reactions and insinuations have necessitated the need to do this press conference.
Gentlemen of the press, following a formal complaint received on 2nd December 2021 via a petition dated 1/12/2021 written by V.O. Grant & Co, and signed by A.E. Efole et al, the DPO Maroko was immediately directed to carry out preliminary investigation into the incident notwithstanding that the incident was not reported at any police station.
Same day the petition was received, DPO Maroko commenced preliminary investigation by visiting the Dowen College, Maroko on a fact-finding mission. However, due to the seriousness of the incident and the dare need to carry out diligent investigation, the State CID was directed by me to take over investigation of the case with immediate effect.
In compliance with this directive, the State Criminal Investigation Department, Panti took over the case on 3rd December 2021 and continued investigation in earnest. In the course of investigation, eight suspects were arrested. The suspects included three House Masters of the College and five students who were said to have been mentioned by the deceased before his death.
The suspects were; Students i. Ansel Temile ‘m’ aged 14 ii. Michael Kashamu ‘m’ aged 15 iii. Kenneth Inyang ‘m’ aged 15 iv. Favour Benjamin ‘m’ aged 16 v. Edward Begue ‘m’ aged 16 House masters vi. Valentine Igbokwe ‘m aged 45 vii. Ahmed Bariyu ‘m’ aged 52 viii. Adesanya Olusegun ‘m aged 42
A remand warrant dated 7th December 2021 was obtained at the Yaba Magistrate Court to enable the police detain the suspects for 21 days in the first instance while investigation continued. On 9th December 2021, all the parties including the deceased’s family, the school management, and witnesses were interviewed by me at the Command Headquarters, Ikeja.
During the open interview, it was unanimously agreed that another autopsy should be carried out where pathologists from all parties would be present. Investigation was extended to Delta State and Abuja.
Gentlemen of the press, I will like to state here that investigation revealed that same case was reported at the Area Command Warri, Delta State on 1st December 2021. It has also been established that a post-mortem examination was initially carried out on 2nd December 2021 by a Consultant Pathologist, Dr. Clement Vhriterhire of the Central Hospital, Warri, Delta State.
The result of the first autopsy dated 10th December 2021 attributed cause of death to ‘acute lung injury due to ?? chemical intoxication in a background of blunt force trauma’. However, toxicology screening was recommended and carried out. While waiting for the result of the toxicology, another autopsy was ordered by the Coroner Magistrate in Lagos because of the status of jurisdiction.
The corpse was, therefore, moved with armed police escorts from Delta State to Lagos State by TOS Funeral and the autopsy conducted at the expense of the Lagos State Government. The second autopsy was carried out at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital on 14th December 2021 in the presence of representatives of all the parties involved in the case.
The second autopsy was carried out by Dr. S.S Soyemi, the Consultant Pathologist and Chief Examiner, Department of Pathology and Forensic Sciences, Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja, Lagos. The autopsy was witnessed by the following: Dr Uwon Eze, a consultant Pathologist from UCH represented Timile’s family Dr. Badmus Kabiru, Consultant Pathologist from LUTH represented Dowen College
iii. Dr. Nwigwe Chikodili Isabella, Consultant Pathologist from Military Hospital Yaba represented Edward Brown, student of Dowen College Dr. Clemet Vhriterhire, Consultant Pathologist who performed the first autopsy represented the family of the deceased Dr. Musa Stephen Itopa, Consultant Pathologist from UPTH represented Michael Kasamu, student of Dowen College Dr. F.E. Emiogun, Consultant Pathologist in LASUTH
vii. Dr. O.O. KilaUvie-Emegbo, Consultant Pathologist in LASUTH
viii. Dr. O.O. Onayemi, senior Registrar in LASUTH Dr. M.Salisu, senior Registrar on autopsy posting in LASUTH Dr. A.C. Chima, Registrar from ABU on autopsy posting in LASUTH Dr. F. Emetomah, Registrar
xii. CSP Rasak Oseni, Homicide Section, represented the Nigeria Police Force, Lagos State Command.
Xiii. DSP Olusegun Bamidele, Homicide Section, also represented the Nigeria Police Force, Lagos State Command
Xiv. Sgt. Shola Adeniyi, Homicide Section, represented the Nigeria Police Force, Lagos State Command.
Before the expiration of the 21 days remand order, the families of the students applied for their bail at the Magistrate Court 1 Yaba. The application was approved hence the students who were earlier remanded at Boys Home, Oregun were granted bail.
The House Masters were also granted bail after the expiration of the 21 days remand order. The result of the second autopsy carried out in Lagos was released on 21st December 2021. The result attributed the cause of death to ‘Septicaemia, lobar pneumonia with acute pyelonephritis and pyomyositis of the right ankle’.
On 30th December 2021, the toxicology screening results of the first autopsy carried out in Warri was released. The result issued and signed by Dr Clement Vhriterhire, same doctor who carried out the initial autopsy attributed the cause of death to ‘acute bacterial pneumonia due to severe sepsis’
At the end of diligent investigation carried out so far, there is no evidence to establish a case of torture, bullying and forceful application of poisonous substances against the suspects. All the suspects denied the allegations of torture, bullying and administering of poisonous substances to the deceased.
Allegation that the deceased was being forced to join a cult group was also not established as other students interviewed denied this. Final results of the post-mortem and toxicology examination conducted both at Warri and Lagos agreed that the deceased died a natural death. For purpose of clarification, it is pertinent to convey to members of the public in simple terms, the commentary/submission of Dr. SS Soyemi, the consultant pathologist who led a team of pathologists to carry out the autopsy.
He declared and I quote: ‘Sylvester Oromoni Jnr, a 12-year old student of Dowen College, Lekki, Lagos, reportedly died on November 30, 2021, at a private hospital in Warri, Delta State. It was alleged that the deceased was physically assaulted and poisoned in the school prior to death.
‘The first autopsy was done in Warri on December 2, 2021. Following an order for a second autopsy, the body of the deceased was brought to Lagos for a second autopsy. Our findings at the second autopsy include marked pallor of organs, pneumonia (infection of the lungs), infections of the liver and kidneys, as well as the heart.
‘These infections emanated from the ankle infection described earlier in the report. Microscopic sections also confirmed these findings. Death was caused by Septicaemia following infections of the lungs and kidneys arising from the ankle wound. 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.’
Despite this and following legal procedure, the case file was duplicated and sent to the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) for legal advice. Legal advice, however, indicated that ‘there is no prima facie case of murder, involuntary manslaughter and or malicious administering of poison with intent to harm’ against the students and the House Masters, hence they cannot be prosecuted. Hence, they were all released on bail. The final result of the autopsy and DPP advice were officially released by the state government earlier in the week.
Gentlemen of the Press, in spite of the transparent investigation, carried out by the police and the non-establishment of prima facie case against the suspects, some members of the Ijaw Youths Council, Lagos led by one Comrade Henry Oyobolo protested in front of Bowen College for over two hours yesterday 6th January 2022.
The protesters, including masquerades, carried placards and were drumming, thereby causing panic and apprehension. The protesters who conducted themselves in a manner capable of causing breach of peace also caused temporary traffic jam. But for the professional way the police managed the protest, it would have led to violence.
Much as we commiserate with the bereaved family on the death of their lovely and promising child, it is advised that the protesters and other individuals or groups who are still aggrieved should go to the law court to seek redress instead of taking the law into their own hands.
Thus, members of the public who may have any misgivings about the outcome of the police investigation, medical enquiry and legal advice with this case are advised to follow due process in law rather than resorting to self-help.
The police will not fold their arms and allow any act or omission that could threaten the peace being enjoyed in the state.
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