Nigerian secondary school Dowen College, located in the high brow area of Lekki, Lagos, has been caught in a storm following the death of a 12-year-old student named Sylvester Oromoni. The result of which has led to the #JusticeForSylvester trend.
The boy was allegedly beaten and force-fed a liquid substance (revealed by some to be engine oil) which would eventually facilitate his death.
Dowen College denied the claim, alleging that he sustained injuries while playing football with his mates. With the public uproar that ensued after the news broke, lots of concerned citizens have expressed anger and disdain towards the administration of the school. This has led to the eventual closing of the school by the Lagos State government.
Lagos State police commissioner, Hakeem Odumosu had ordered an investigation into the incident.
#JusticeForSylvester: WHETHER OR NOT THE MINORS CAN BE PROSECUTED
Three of the accused, all of whom are believed to be under the age of 18, have now been arrested and detained by the Lagos state police. The issue of the possibility or probability of prosecuting these offenders has however come into question, given the fact that they are all minors.
If the account of the family detailing a physical attack and subsequent chemical poisoning are ascertained during the investigation, Sylvester Oromoni’s death will be considered a murder case.
There are special courts and detention facilities which are specifically designed to handle cases of offenses of this nature by offenders as young as the boys if they are found guilty.
Section 319 of the Nigerian Criminal Code Act stipulates that, if the offender has not attained 17 years of age, they shall be ordered to be detained “during the pleasure of the president” in murder cases.
Afam Osigwe, a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), said this means the court can neither impose a death or life sentence if the minor is found guilty of murder.
The lawyer said, in this case, the offender is detained and kept away until the governor orders their release. He added:
“The law will take its course whether they’re minors or not. Reports put them at a little over 12 years or so. They will be tried but not like adults. The court may keep away the public from it or take steps to protect them,”
“If found guilty, they’ll be sentenced but they’re not to be kept in the same place as adults. They will be kept in a facility meant for minors. The important thing is that proper investigation is carried out.
“This way, wrong persons are not charged. It’s important that the police build up a good case to ensure a conviction.”
With the media buzz surrounding the case, hopefully, the Oromoni and others involved in the case, can all get #JusticeForSylvester
By Oluwamayowa Akinyemi