‘It’s to justify reopening of Dowen’ — Falana faults Lagos verdict on Oromoni case

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Femi Falana

Femi Falana, human rights advocate and senior lawyer, has kicked against the verdict of the Lagos Department of Public Prosecution (DPP) regarding the case against Dowen College, Lekki.

Sylvester Oromoni, a Dowen student, died last November after he was allegedly attacked by five of his colleagues.

The 12-year-old’s father claimed his child was beaten and fed a liquid chemical that eventually claimed his life.

But Dowen had dismissed the claim, alleging that the boy sustained injuries while playing football with colleagues.

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 Lagos police command.

The first autopsy earlier released to the public had revealed that the deceased died of “chemical intoxication”.

After a police probe, Odumosu said findings had been forwarded to the DPP.

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

The police also released a housemaster and other Dowen staff members, saying the court order to detain them had elapsed.

In the DPP’s advice released on Wednesday, it was stated that the police investigation and the two autopsies conducted on the body of the deceased student failed to establish a prima facie case against the suspects.

‘ATTEMPT TO COVER UP CAUSE OF DEATH’

Speaking to TheCable on the DPP’s verdict, Falana said it was “loaded with medical jargon” that failed to address the allegation that the deceased was forced to drink a concoction and tortured for refusing to join an unlawful society.

“In a report of that nature, you have to address each of the allegations and eliminate them one by one. Look at the very dubious way of dismissing whether the boy was forced to join a cult or an unlawful society,” he said.

“DPP said they didn’t find any insignia or uniform in the possession of the suspects, hence, there was no unlawful society. Is that how to prove the membership of an unlawful society? They must think they’re dealing with morons.

“Has that addressed the allegation that the boy was forced to drink a concoction or that he was beaten?

“If they found all those diseases [in the autopsy], when did they arise? You said he was injured on a football field.

“What kind of injury? Was there an opening in his body? Wounds can lead to sepsis. How did it lead to his death?

“It’s a very cheap attempt to cover. As far as the parents are concerned, this cannot be the end of the matter.”

DPP TO DEFEND REPORT DURING CORONER’S SITTING

Falana, representing the bereaved family in the case, said the family will apply for the DPP to defend the report, adding that the probe is inconclusive.

“The report is escapist but hasn’t resolved the matter. It is pending before the coroner in Lagos. We expect the DPP to give evidence before the coroner. We’re going to apply to summon the DPP on January 15,” Falana explained.

“Neither in Warri nor in Lagos is there a lab to confirm poisonous substances [in post-mortem examinations].

“The commissioner of police said on December 31 that they were awaiting the report of a toxicologist. Do they have that report? No. And that is the most important aspect of the investigation. So, the probe is not conclusive.

“This is only the report of the DPP based on the information made available to him. The full facts are not out. We challenge the doctors and the DPP to produce the toxicologist’s report on the substance he was forced to drink.

“Unless you can show that, you haven’t concluded. You can’t just declare that everyone has been exonerated. They just wanted to justify the reopening of the school, which should be announced very soon. That’s all.”

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