“I named my daughter Keren-Happuch, which means God has filled my cup, but Premiere Academy, Lugbe took the cup emptied the water and broke the cup. The cup I gave to Premiere Academy full, they returned to me empty and broken. This is too much to take. My heart is in turmoil”
On Wednesday December 1, 2021, social media was awash with the news of the murder of 11-year-old Sylvester Oromoni, a JSS2 student of Dowen College Lekki, Lagos, who was bullied to death by senior school mates.
The deceased was reportedly dragged out of his bed, beaten and kicked on his head several times, and given a chemical portion to drink in his school hostel.
The victim’s cousin Perrie Oromoni, who announced the incident on social media via his Instagram account, wrote that “ this is my 12-year-old cousin that was beaten to death at a school that costs over N1 million.
Anybody that wants to kill me can kill me now; my brother won’t die for nothing. Anslem Temile, Michael Kashamu, Benjamin Favour and Dowen College, just know he called your names before he died.”
The post precipitated severe public outrage and Nigerians have since taken to social media to criticise the occurrence and demand for justice.
Responding to the issue, Lagos State government, on Friday, ordered indefinite closure of the school, pending the outcome of an investigation into the issue, and on Sunday, the school premises was sealed up by officials of the Lagos State Ministry of Education.
But, alas, bullying in Nigerian boarding schools is not a novel phenomenon. Indeed, it is commonplace, and something to be anticipated even.
Its commonness shows itself in the unwillingness of parents and guardians to take prompt actions to address bullying of their wards, believing that the children will survive.
In most secondary boarding schools, junior students often suffer their plight in silence. With an unchecked system where might is right, bullying becomes an unending cycle of unwarranted brutality because the oppressed grows to become the oppressor.
The trend of Bullying in Nigerian boarding schools
The case of Sylvester not only highlights the culture of bullying in boarding schools, but also points to the irresponsible management of educational institutions, where schools are established merely for profit making; the unavoidable consequence of this unhealthy attitude being utter disregard for the welfare of students and a despicable predisposition to “cover up” lapses instead of an honest effort at restitution to expiate an injury.
At a time when Nigeria is bedeviled by a myriad of social challenges, bullying and irresponsible school management now join the trend.
Recall that in June, a 14-year-old pupil of Premiere Academy, Lugbe, Abuja, died of an infection after a condom was found in her private part.
Mother of Keren-Happuch, who was reportedly raped at a private school in Abuja, told journalists that “I named my daughter Keren-Happuch, which means God has filled my cup, but Premiere Academy, Lugbe took the cup emptied the water and broke the cup. The cup I gave to Premiere Academy full, they returned to me empty and broken.
This is too much to take. My heart is in turmoil”
The bereaved mother lamented the unwillingness of the school to pursue the case and convict the offender.
“instead of the management of Premiere Academy, Lugbe allowing my family to grieve and mourn her, Premiere Academy, Lugbe, Abuja has been preoccupied with wanting to look good to the public rather than work to bring out the rapist.
“Premiere Academy, Lugbe, Abuja has put the business interest of the school above the life of my 14-year-old girl.
They have even tried to tarnish her image with ugly stories,” she said.
On Friday, December 3, 2021, a High Court in Uyo remanded five persons allegedly involved in sexual molestation of an 11-year-old student of Deeper Life High School in prison custody.
It would be recalled that in January 2021, the Uyo Magistrate Court in Akwa Ibom State had charged the school’s principal, Mrs. Ndidi Solomon, and four others for unlawfully and indecently assaulting the victim Don-Davies Archibong.
On Friday December 2021. Deborah revealed that the principal and house master had been remanded in prison while the two senior students were facing the juvenile court.
Perhaps, the brutalisation of children and teenagers in Nigerian boarding schools account for the aggressive tendencies of most Nigerians.
But what may be the bigger tragedy in these cases is the wilful refusal of parents of bullies and perpetrators of such acts of intimidation and violence to cooperate with authorities.
Part of the public outrage which accompanied the murder of Sylvester is directed at the deliberate attempt by the parents of the suspected murderers to pervert justice and avoid the wrath of the law on their wards.
In an exclusive interview with Arise News, the deceased father Sylvester Oromoni bemoaned the nonchalant attitude of the school’s administration in the matter.
“until we brought this boy, till the day he died, nobody called us. The principal did not call, the housemaster did not call. We were the ones that called. It was only one teacher, his JSS1 teacher that called to check upon him. Even his JSS2 teacher did not call.
“as I’m speaking to you, up till today, the owner of the school has not called. The only time that the principal called me was to say why did I send those pictures when he was passing through pain to the public.
That the boy is a very handsome boy and anybody that sees their photos will be scared, that she was even scared to open them. I said madam, I saw your press statement you are not telling people the truth. I need thorough investigation.”
While the move by the Lagos State government to seal up the school premises is commendable, I dare say that much more is still required: Thorough investigations should be carried out to ensure that all offenders are duly punished.
Nigerians will not continue to tolerate the negligence of school authorities and their wilful cruelty. Justice must be promptly pursued and must be seen to have been done.
Dr Marcel Mbamalu, Publisher/Editor-in-Chief of Prime Business Africa, lives in Lagos.