Circumstances surrounding the death of Sylvester Oromoni Jr., a 12-year-old JSS 2 student of Dowen College, have so far been shrouded in mystery.
Despite the school management issuing a statement alleging he suffered injuries while playing football, his father, said Sylvester mentioned five seniors who assaulted him.
He said his son confessed that the seniors came into his room, switched off the light, beat him and forced him to lie that he sustained injuries while playing football.
Since the revelation, names and pictures of these boys have gone viral on social media, with many calling for their immediate arrest and prosecution.
A MURDER CASE
FIJ spoke with lawyers on Monday to understand the legal implications of a murder charge for the boys, as they are minors.
Festus Ogun, a human rights lawyer, told FIJ that if the accused boys are taken to court, their ages cannot be used as an excuse to escape the long arm of the law.
“The mere fact that one is a child is not enough to escape criminal liability,” he said.
“You can’t allow a child to go scot-free merely because he is a child. If found guilty, they will face the music.”
He said there are special courts and detention facilities for young people, where these matters are addressed.
On the period of time between the alleged attack and eventual death, Ogun said an attack does not need to happen moments before death for a prosecutor to establish a connection.
He said if injuries inflicted on a person eventually claim the person’s life, a murder case can be opened against the perpetrator.
“Usually, the death of a person might not happen immediately after the act that causes it is committed,” he further said.
“You might commit a crime now and the result might come another time. So the mere fact that there was a period of time between when the boy was withdrawn from school and when he died may not necessarily erase the culpability of the perpetrators.
“If indeed it was the act of those alleged students that led to the death of Sylvester, then they would be liable, regardless of the period of time.”
VICTIMS, NOT CRIMINALS
Ridwan Oke, another legal practitioner, told FIJ that if the boys are tried in a juvenile court, the records will not be open to the public as they will be treated as victims.
“Records of juvenile court proceedings are not made public. The accused persons will be treated as victims in this circumstance as they are not capable of committing offences,” he said.
“Section 319 of the Criminal Code is clear on that. You cannot put a minor in the same prison as adults, you take them to the juvenile home.
“A crime has occurred, it has led to the death of someone. It is murder. We call it a culpable homicide, but it is murder.”
Oke argued that the matter cannot be treated as manslaughter because going by the narration of Sylvester Oromoni Snr., the boys threw late Sylvester to the ground, hit him and kicked his head, thereby consciously committing actions capable of taking his life.
“Once you inflict an injury and that injury leads to a person’s death, it is murder,” he told FIJ.
He, however, said regardless of the charge, no judge can sentence a minor to death or life imprisonment as they are deemed to be victims.
Oke also said the school can be tried for conspiracy for issuing a statement alleging the injuries were sustained while playing football.
He described the act as an attempt to “hide a crime”.
FIJ reached out to Sylvester Oromoni Snr., but the distraught politician was unable to comment as his family was healing.
He, however, said the school was “telling the press a lot of lies,” but he was hopeful for justice.
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