The Principal of Dowen College, Lagos, Mrs. Adebisi Layiwola, wept profusely on Tuesday, March 1 as she testified before the Coroner Inquest probing the controversial death of a 12-year-old student of the school, Sylvester Oromoni Jnr.
While sharing her own side of the story, 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, Femi Falana (SAN), that there is 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Falana further enquired if the witness was aware that some parents had withdrawn their children from the school because of bullying allegations.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 The boy has been withdrawn after Sylvester’s case, and the boy that bullied him was expelled after the death of the deceased.”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 Nov. 23, 2021, adding that the condition of his health necessitated his admission at the school’s sick bay, 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, Anthony Kpokpo, informed the court that the principal was the last witness from the school.
The coroner adjourned proceedings until March 7 for the continuation of the hearing.