Proceedings were again stalled on Monday at the coroner’s inquest enquiring into the controversial death of Dowen College Student, Late Sylvester Oromoni Jnr, after Sylvester Oromoni Snr and his sister who were scheduled to testify again failed to turn up in court.
This is the second time they have failed to turn up, the first being last week Friday, January 28.
A counsel to the family, Andrew Efole told the coroner, Magistrate Mikhail Kadiri that they were absent on grounds of ill-health.
“The girl who ought to testify is sick, while the father is attending to the child who is receiving treatment,” he said.
When asked the whereabouts of the mother, the counsel said, “The mother is not strong now because of the things she is going through.”
The coroner expressed worry that it appeared that the party who requested the inquest is now the one stalling it.
He said, “If the intention of the family is to leave this issue to public opinion, I do not see the reason why we are here in the first place.”
Counsel to Dowen College, Anthony Kpokpo raised the issue of an interview granted by Sylvester Oromoni Snr as to why he was absent at the last sitting of the court. He expressed dissatisfaction with the publication, especially as the coroner had previously warned parties to refrain from making public comments on the inquest.
The counsel also drew the court’s attention to a social media tweet by another relative of the deceased, Perrie Oromoni who had tweeted amongst other things that the family’s lawyer did not allow Sylvester Oromoni Senior to testify. He expressed displeasure at the tweet and the action of the lawyer.
The Lagos State Counsel, Mr Akin George, on his part asked the court to apply Section 48(10) of the Coroner System Law, which states, “Any person whose act or conduct contravenes any of the provisions of this law where no penalty is specified, commits an offence and is liable on conviction to 2 years’ imprisonment.”
Counsel to one of the Dowen college students, Godwin Omoaka (SAN) expressed reservations about the content of the tweet. He submitted that it would be better to hear from the lawyer first before concluding that it was him who did not allow the witness to testify.
In response, Magistrate Kadiri reiterated his warning against public comments and went further to say that he might have to issue a summons on the said relative.
Counsel representing the Oromoni family, Mr. Efole, however, apologised and told the court that the family will present other witnesses before it at the next sitting.
The Coroner thereafter adjourned till Tuesday, February 1 when all parties are expected to have complied with the court’s previous order and filed all their witness depositions.