The testimony of the father of late Sylvester Oromoni (Junior), a pupil of Dowen College, Lekki, Lagos State, who died under controversial circumstances, has been adjourned till February 14 following the failure of the prosecution to serve the documents sought to be tendered as evidence in the inquest.
Magistrate Mikhail Kadiri adjourned proceedings following an argument of the defence counsel that the prosecution failed to serve them the documents.
The news of Sylvester’s death went viral following a social media post by his cousin, Perry Oromoni, who alleged that some senior pupils of the college beat him up in his hostel because he refused to join a cult.
But the school denied the claim, stating that the boy complained of leg pains following an injury he sustained while playing football.
A coroner inquest was set up to look into the circumstances surrounding the death.
At Monday’s proceedings, journalists and other members of the public were barred from proceedings when Sylvester’s sister, Amanda, wanted to testify before the coroner inquest.
Counsel for the Nigerian Bar Association, Bernard Oniga, raised the issue of the Child Rights Law of Lagos State concerning the testimony of the minor in an open court.
This matter has been highly sensationalised. Any minor that so wishes to appear before it must be accorded some level of privacy because she still has a future ahead,” he added.
Thereafter, Magistrate Kadiri asked journalists and members of the public to exit the courtroom.
Following the testimony of the deceased’s sister, Sylvester’s father was placed on oath to testify before the inquest.
However, when the family’s lawyer, Andrew Efole, informed the court of the documents he sought to tender in the evidence-in-chief of Oromoni’s senior, the defence lawyers objected to them on the grounds that they were not aware of the documents.
Efole told the court that he could not serve the other parties because the officer in charge of the police legal unit did not provide him the necessary documents on time.
Responding, counsel representing one of the five pupils, Godwin Omoaka (SAN), said, “We are just seeing these documents for the first time; the defence counsel had them and did not give them to us. He also has videos to tender through this witness, but we have not had the privilege to view them.
It is appropriate that we see this video and watch, otherwise we won’t be able to cross-examine the witness. While we do not object to their admissibility, we ask that the video be played in the open court before we begin with the witness.”
Also responding, counsel for Dowen College, Anthony Kokpo, aligned himself with the counsel that the video be played in court.
The counsel for the Lagos State Government, Akin George, said the ministry had made the documents available earlier.
Following the arguments of the counsel, Magistrate Kadiri adjourned till February 14 for the testimony of the deceased’s father to be taken.
He further ordered the family’s lawyer to serve the necessary documents on the other parties and adjourned the proceedings till Tuesday for the testimony of the pathologist.
The pieces of evidence sought to be tendered by the family’s lawyer included a flash drive containing the audio conversation between him and a father of one Afolabi, a Junior Secondary Student of Dowen College, and another audio conversation with Afolabi, who confirmed that the deceased was bullied because he heard him shouting and nobody was there to help.
In the video that was played in the courtroom, our correspondent observed as the victim was carried away from the school on the arm of his brother’s friend on Tuesday, November 23, 2021.
Another video also showed Sylvester being carried by two people at the laboratory while he groaned with pain after an X-ray was carried out on him.
His school box that was allegedly damaged in the school was also presented as evidence before the court.
The father of the deceased broke down in tears as he watched the video of his son groaning with pain.