A policeman identified as Bamidele Olusegun (CSP) says Dowen College was initially indicted in the first legal advice issued by the Lagos state directorate of public prosecutions (DPP) on the death of Sylvester Oromoni Jnr.
According to NAN, Olusegun, who is serving with the homicide section of the Lagos State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department (SCIID), Panti, Yaba, testified on Monday before an Ikeja coroner’s court.
While under cross-examination by Femi Falana (SAN), counsel to the Oromoni family, the police officer said he got interim legal advice from the DPP dated December 30, 2021.
He said the advice had recommended that the school and its staff should be prosecuted for alleged negligence.
Falana showed the witness a copy of the interim report and requested that he should read the last paragraph of the document.
Reading it aloud, he said: “There are sufficient facts to establish this offence against Mrs. Celina Uduak, Valentine Igboekweze, Hammed Ayomo Bariyu, Adesanya Olusegun, and Mr. Adeyemi and Dowen College.”
The witness also said he received another legal advice dated January 4, which had exonerated Dowen College of involvement in Oromoni’s death.
The witness said he conducted a thorough investigation and was aware that the police had protested that they were not allowed to conclude their investigations on the case due to the issuance of the January 4 DPP advice.
Olusegun identified a copy of the protest letter written to the chief judge of Lagos state by the police shown to him by Falana.
A portion of the letter, read aloud by the witness in the court, stated that: “It came as a rude shock that the investigation was not allowed to be carried out.”
He also said the suspects were not brought back to the police station for the conclusion of the investigation.
“During the investigation, one of the suspects informed me that the deceased was bullied. Another one also told me that he was taken to the third floor to be tortured,” he said.
When asked if any of the suspects had informed him that the deceased was injured on November 14, 2021, Olusegun said he did not have any recollection.
The policeman told the inquest that the sister of the deceased told him that her late brother was also bullied sometime in October 2021 and that the boy who allegedly bullied him was not punished for the act.
“She also confirmed to me that they bullied her brother because they wanted him to described her private parts. I wouldn’t know the deceased was taken to the sickbay in October when he was bullied,” he said.
Olusegun confirmed during the cross-examination that a female parent had also reported that her son was bullied by some Dowen College students at the Maroko police station.
Witness: How I investigated Sylvester Oromoni’s death
Earlier, the witness narrated to the coroner’s court how he investigated the case.
“On December 3, 2021, a petition forwarded to my office was assigned to me,” he said.
“Dowen College was already closed down then. On December 6, we were at Maroko Police Station, where we met the school principal and the suspects.
“We took them down to Panti and obtained statements from the accused and the other management staff.
“We then proceeded to a Yaba Magistrates’ Court to get a Remand Order. The House Masters were detained with us while the children were remanded at the Oregun Correctional Home.”
Olusegun said the statement of Sylvester Oromoni Snr, the father of the deceased, was taken on December 9, 2021.
He said the Lagos state attorney-general and the state commissioner for education were put on the phone when the parties were interrogated.
“I recollect that I went to Warri to bring the corpse to Lagos and I had an interaction with the doctor and the Consultant Pathologists,” he said.
“We arrived in Lagos on Jan.13 with the corpse while the autopsy was performed the next day but before then, letters were dispatched to the parties asking them to be in attendance or send representatives during the autopsy.
“I later proceeded to Abuja to speak with one of the witnesses. I also recollect that we visited the school on a fact-finding mission and it was opened to us.
“I remember that the doctor at the school hospital; Dr. Moji confirmed that she attended to the deceased between November 21 and 22 2021.
“She confirmed to me that she asked the nurse to massage the deceased’s legs and that paracetamol was also administered on him.”
When asked if the school had CCTV cameras, he said: “Absolutely no, there were no CCTV cameras in the school.”
Babajide Martins, director of the Lagos state DPP, and Anthony Kpokpo, counsel to Dowen College, informed the inquest that they were not previously served copies of the legal advice with which Falana had cross-examined the witness.
“It has become a part of the deceased family to present documents that have not been front-loaded,” Kpokpo said.
“We will not be able to continue with the cross-examination as a result of the surprises being pulled on us. This is regrettable.”
Oromoni died on November 30, 2021, from injuries alleged to have been sustained in an attack by five senior students of Dowen College who the family had claimed bullied the 12-year-old for refusing to join a cult.
The Lagos state DPP’s advice released on January 4 also disputed the allegation, stating that an autopsy had revealed the cause of Oromoni’s death as acute bacterial pneumonia due to severe sepsis.
Mikhail Kadiri, the coroner, adjourned proceedings until February 22 for the continuation of cross-examination
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