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Coroner’s Verdict: Dowen College Student’s Death Ruled Natural, Blames Parental and Medical Negligence

In a lengthy judgment spanning over six hours, Magistrate Mikhail Kadiri, presiding over the inquest into the tragic death of 12-year-old Dowen College student Sylvester Oromoni, delivered a verdict stating that the young boy died a natural death.
The late Oromoni Jnr reportedly died on November 30, 2021, at a private hospital in Warri, Delta State following health complications that allegedly occurred at his school, Dowen College, Lagos.
Following his death, the Lagos State Government set up a coroner’s inquest to investigate the circumstances of his death which began in January 2022.
During the extensive proceedings that commenced on January 15, 2022, a total of 32 witnesses, including the late student’s parents, Dowen College management, teachers, staff members, alleged bullies, police officers, medical doctors, and pathologists, testified.
The evidence presented included the findings from two autopsies conducted in Warri, Delta State, and Lagos, which revealed that Sylvester’s death resulted from septicemia stemming from infections in the lungs and kidneys, exacerbated by an ankle wound.
The autopsy conducted on the deceased at the Central Hospital, Warri, Delta state, had only the family members present, and another conducted at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, had about ten pathologists representing various parties including the family, Lagos state government and Dowen College participated.
Reading from his notes, Magistrate Kadiri said, “Death was caused by Septicaemia (a life-threatening health condition caused by a patient’s body’s response to an infection), following infections of the lungs and kidneys arising from the ankle wound.
“No evidence of blunt force trauma in this body. The findings in the oesophagus and stomach are not compatible with chemical intoxication. Death, in this case, is natural.”
“Dr Sunday Soyemi, who led the Lagos procedure has stated in the autopsy report that sepsis, which led to the death of the boy, could have been treated with “massive doses of intravenous antibiotic, intravenous fluid and blood transfusion”, but which was never done.”
“From the evidence, Sylvester was said to have sustained an injury on his ankle between November 20 and 21, following first aid treatment, the school contacted his parents to come and pick him up for further treatment”.
“A guardian was sent to the school who took him for an X-ray, but no fracture was detected. But, he wasn’t taken to a hospital for care in Lagos until days later when he was moved to his base in warri, and treated at home by the family doctor, Henry Aghogho”.
The Coroner slammed the family doctor, Henry Aghogho for not providing the required duty of care for the patient whose home care treatment he said was “trivialized” despite early diagnosis.
“The doctor was found to have abandoned the deceased for more than 32 hours and didn’t carry out an X-ray and scan early enough which would have revealed his deteriorating condition”.
The coroner, who broke down in tears several times while reading his findings and even rose at a point to comport himself, said the case was touching but needed objectivity.
He exonerated the school of negligence and the five senior students accused of bullying the deceased and administering a poisonous substance on him.
“The alleged suspects played no part in Sylvester’s death, but were victims of their past misdeeds. They were falsely accused, no staff of Dowen College played any role in the death.
“The school has improved on their facilities since the incident. The claims of chemical intoxication was never proven, and the faces of those allegedly bullying the deceased weren’t seen. The alleged confession of Sylvester was denied by several witnesses. Even if he was beaten, it didn’t lead to his death.”
Despite dismissing allegations of school negligence and the involvement of five senior students in Sylvester’s death, Magistrate Kadiri issued recommendations to prevent similar incidents in the future.
He called for heightened parental vigilance regarding children’s health, advocated for improved collaboration between law enforcement and medical professionals, and urged Dowen College to enhance student monitoring and provide psychological evaluations for students suspected of bullying.
He further recommended that  management of Dowen College should ensure documentation of entry and exit of students out of the hostel, as well as proper psychological evaluation for the 5 students suspected to have bullied the deceased.
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