The Principal of Dowen College, Lagos, Mrs Adebisi Layiwola, on Tuesday wept before an Ikeja Corona’s Court while narrating how the death of a 12-year-old student, Sylvester Oromoni Jnr., was relayed to her.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Coroner, Mr Mikhail Kadiri, had to stand down proceedings for 10 minutes to enable the principal to pull herself together.
Layiwola said that she got the news of the student’s death while in the process of investigating an allegation that the deceased was bullied by some senior students.
“When the uncle of the deceased came to the school, we were still in the process of the investigation.
“He received a call from the sister of the deceased in my presence, that the deceased’s case had taken a bad turn.
“It was not long, he received another call that the boy had passed on,” she said.
At this point in her testimony, the Dowen College principal broke down in tears and the coroner ordered a 10-minute break.
Earlier, Layiwola, who has been the principal of the school for four years, told the court during cross-examination by counsel to the Oromoni family, Mr Femi Falana (SAN), that there was no cult in the school.
“On the cult allegation, there is no cult in the school.
“In October, I was informed that the deceased was told to describe the nudity of his sister by some students.
“We called the students who were involved but we did not really talk to them about being in a cult. We spoke to them on the issue of bullying.
“On the issue of private part description, we set up a panel to investigate and make a recommendation.
“Due to the sensitive nature of the case, the boy in question was given an internal suspension, internal work for two weeks.
“He was made to apologise to the sister and the deceased. He also went for counselling,” she said.
Falana asked if the witness asked the students whether they gave the deceased a substance to drink.
She said: “I did not ask them.”
“Would you be surprised that a black substance was found in the deceased body?” Falana asked.
The witness responded: “I would not be surprised because I am not a pathologist.”
Falana further enquired if the witness was aware that some parents had withdrawn their children from the school because of bullying allegations.
“No. I cannot remember,” she said.
Falana also asked Layiwola if she was aware that a parent came to Maroko Police Station to complain that her son was bullied.
Responding, she said: “Yes it is true. The boy has been withdrawn after Sylvester’s case, and the boy that bullied him was expelled after the death of the deceased.”
The witness also testified that she did not see the deceased until November 23, 2021, adding that the condition of his health necessitated his admission at the school’s sickbay, with medical personnel treating him.
“The medical doctor told me the deceased had pain in the hip. I was not in school on Nov. 21 and 22, 2021. As a principal, I work with different competent people.
“I did not see the deceased on those two days because I was not given a report on him immediately and his case was not critical,” she said.
Following Layiwola’s evidence, counsel to Dowen College, Mr Anthony Kpokpo, informed the court that the principal was the last witness from the school.
The coroner adjourned proceedings until March 7 for continuation of hearing.
The student died on Nov. 30, 2021.
His family is alleging that he died from injuries he sustained in an attack by five senior students of Dowen College, for refusing to join a cult.
The family also alleges that the late student was forced to drink an obnoxious substance by his attackers.
Advice by the Lagos State Directorate of Public Prosecutions released on Jan. 4, however, disputed the allegations.
It stated that an autopsy revealed the cause of the student’s death as acute bacterial pneumonia due to severe sepsis.
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