The coroner’s inquiry into the death of Sylvester Oromoni (Jnr) may be facing a temporary drag after some of the parties to the case delayed filing their witness depositions as ordered by the court.

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Oromoni, a student of Dowen College in Lagos, died last November after he was allegedly attacked by five colleagues.

His father claimed the 12-year-old was beaten and fed a liquid chemical that eventually led to his death.

Dowen College had dismissed the claim and alleged that the boy sustained injuries while playing football with colleagues.

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Hakeem Odumosu, Lagos police commissioner, ordered a probe into the case while the school was sealed off.

Two autopsies were done on the deceased, one by the Delta police and the second by the force’s Lagos command.

The first autopsy had revealed that the deceased died of “acute lung injury due to chemical intoxication”.

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After the probe, Odumosu said findings had been forwarded to the state’s department of public prosecution (DPP).

A Lagos magistrate court then granted bail to the five students charged with the alleged murder of the dead boy.

The police also released a housemaster and other staff of the school, saying the court order to detain them elapsed.

The DPP’s verdict after the second autopsy established that Oromoni died naturally, not by chemical poison.

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The case has since then been before a magistrate court in Epe, Lagos where a coroner is examining the cause of death.

Prosecution testimony

On January 21, Clifford Tejire, the first prosecution witness, told the coroner how he picked the late boy from school on November 23.

The witness testified that the boy was in pain and his health worsened but he wasn’t told by the parents to take him to the hospital.

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Tejire said Oromoni was later taken by road to Warri in Delta state where he eventually died on November 30.

Peter Odewo-Oritse, the second prosecution witness who is an operations manager at KenBen Nig. Ltd., a firm in Warri, Delta owned by the father of the late boy, also testified before Seun Akande, a lawyer to the Lagos government.

The witness testified that the deceased had an enlarged liver but was not immediately taken to a hospital.

The court also heard that, upon arrival in Warri, Aghoho Owhojede, the Oromoni family doctor, attended to the boy who was treated for malaria while an x-ray later conducted on the boy revealed that he had a liver enlargement.

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Drag as parties to case delay filing of witness deposition

On February 15, Mikail Kadiri, the presiding magistrate, had asked parties in the case to file all witness depositions.

Although the prosecution has had two witnesses testify before the court, the lawyers to the family lamented the delay by the remaining parties, including Dowen College, in filing their witness statements as directed by the magistrate.

On the court’s January 28 sitting, Sylvester Oromoni (Snr), the father of the deceased, and his daughter were due to testify before the coroner but failed to show up due to what they described as the drag by the remaining parties.

In response, Taiwo Olawanle, a counsel from the Law Firm of Falana & Falana representing the family, asked the coroner to adjourn proceedings indefinitely on the grounds that other parties hadn’t filed their witness depositions.

Anthony Kpokpo, counsel to Dowen, described the application as tragic. The magistrate dismissed this as vexatious since the court had ruled on the matter. He ordered all parties to file their witness deposition by February 1.

The court also ordered that all pending witnesses should be present in court at the next sitting on January 31.

Father: We won’t go to court until witness depositions are filed

Speaking of his absence at the sitting, Oromoni (Snr) expressed concerns about the pending depositions.

“My lawyer wrote for everyone to get the statement of police. That didn’t come until the first day the court resumed. On January 15, the magistrate gave an order for all the parties to file their witness statements on hold,” he said.

“We filed, that’s why our witnesses are being called. But up until this moment, the defence hasn’t filed. We discovered they’re using our witness statement to amend their own witness statement.

“The magistrate has given order but, after a month, they have not complied while the complainant has. I won’t give my own witness until they comply with the magistrate’s order.

“The magistrate has given them a final date, on Tuesday next week. He’s asking us to come on Monday but we’re still not comfortable with that. Let them file their entire witness statement oath first before we start.

“Tuesday is when they’re expected to submit their statement on oath. I will hear from my lawyer first and decide if we’re to come on Tuesday. But on, on Monday, we’re not showing up.”

CP yet to give us report on police probe, says Falana

Femi Falana (SAN), the human rights lawyer hired by the family, said the Oromonis are also yet to access the full report of the police investigation conducted on the death of the deceased 12-year-old Dowen College student.

“We didn’t seek indefinite postponement of the inquest. We only said we can’t continue to go on because they wanted to wait for the conclusion of our case before filing their own. That was the basis of the application,” he said.

“The police commissioner was asked to give us the report of their investigation. They haven’t until now. We didn’t want to cause a delay. Ordinarily, we would have decided that we wanted to have the police report before we go on.

“But all parties have been given Tuesday as the deadline to file all the necessary papers. The stance of the family was not an application. Our lawyer gave evidence up until Thursday but we decided that we couldn’t go on.

“That’s until all put in their witness statements. The court overruled and said the proceeding should continue.”

When contacted, Solape Adefala, a legal practitioner speaking on behalf of the school, denied the defence was “stalling”.

“I can’t reply. If I do, anything I say may be out of context as to the circumstances that occurred in court,” she said.

TheCable understands all parties have been notified that subsequent sittings will hold at the high court in Ikeja.



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