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By David Taylor, Africanews correspondent in Lagos, Nigeria
The death of a 12-year-old schoolboy, in Lagos Nigeria's commercial capital city, is generating reactions in Africa's most populous nation.
Sylvester Oromoni Jnr, a Junior Secondary School JSS 2, student of Dowen College, Lagos southwest Nigeria died under controversial circumstances.
The school authorities claim Sylvester sustained injuries while playing football, but his family says he was instead tortured by school bullies.
“He told us that he was not playing football, he did not go to the field. he said he was in his room with his classmates sleeping on his bed in the evening,” said Sylvester Oromoni, the father of the deceased schoolboy.
The 12-year-old student succumbed to wounds allegedly suffered from a violent beat-up by school bullies on Wednesday, November 28 triggering massive outcry and condemnation in the country.
Activists, civil rights campaigners, celebrities and government authorities have expressed shock and anger at the way Sylvester died.
Following the incident, the Lagos State government sealed off the school pending the outcome of an investigation into the case.
The state government in a statement while sympathizing with the family also appealed for calm.
A legal practitioner based in Lagos, Muktar Kolawole believes the action of the state government has some form of legal backing.
“When a situation like this comes up, there is a provision under the law, under the child’s right law that empowers the government to step in to do everything within its power to ensure that justice is done to get to the root of the matter, make all the necessary inquiry. We could say as it is so far so good what the government has done is still within their capacity,” said Muktar Kolawole, a legal practitioner in Lagos.
Bullying and harassment are widespread in most Nigerian schools particularly Boarding schools but not much has been done to stem it. Civil rights campaigners and citizens are however harping on this tragic case of Sylvester Oromoni to clam for action. Nigerians are calling for the end to bullying, cultism and other forms of assaults on students.
“Parents need to be more open to their children so that their children can always confide in them whenever they have issues,” says Henry Takuju, a medical doctor.
“If you are being bullied you should speak, and that is where as a parent your kids should be able to talk to you. Because if I am going through a situation, and I know that I have somebody I am looking up to (my Parents) I should be able to talk to them and say this is what is happening I don’t like it,” said Michael, a personal trainer.
A family source said Sylvester Junior’s burial arrangements remain on hold until the cause of his death is unraveled in a planned autopsy.
Nigerian president Mohammadu Buhari on Wednesday also vowed to ensure all culprits in the tragedy are brought to justice.
Africanews correspondent in Lagos, David Taylor reports that Dowen college for now remains locked until investigation into what happened is completed. A protest and candle light procession in front of the school premises are also planned in the coming days, he adds.