Dowen College Tragedy: Rethinking Nigerian Boarding School System

For decades, the boarding house system in Nigeria has been a preferred choice as it has presented a lot of advantages including but not limited to: a learning conducive environment, smaller class sizes, social maturity, personal growth, and challenging academics, peer learning.
However, with the current level of insecurity and moral decadence plaguing the Nigerian system, the Legal Assistance and Citizens Rights Initiative (LACRI) is alarmed by the recent spate of ugly incidents in Nigeria Boarding School system. We are persuaded to ask if boarding schools is still the way to go?

In recent times, the media has been awash with stories of physical, sexual abuse and gross bullying perpetrated by so called “senior students” in boarding houses and these stories have slowly faded away without any real investigation and punishment.
Most recent is the case of Sylvester Oromoni jnr, the 12-year- old student of Dowen College, Lekki,Lagos State, who was allegedly bullied by a set of senior students and lost his life in the process.
Various media report quoted the deceased father, Sylvester Oromoni Snr as alleging that his late son was beaten and forced to drink a substance for refusing to be initiated into a secret cult group. But the management of the school have maintained that he sustained injuries from a fall while playing football.

At the moment, it is unclear if the school authority is shielding the perpetrators of this act or simply trying to protect the battered image of the school. Whatever the case, human life is sacred and the school management must be held responsible for any mishap on the grounds of the school.
We wish to recall sordid stories similar to that of Sylvester which have been treated with kid gloves and since forgotten.

The story of  14-year-old, Karen-Happuch Akpagher of Premier Academy, Lugbe who died of suspected sepsis after she was allegedly raped and a used condom found on her comes to mind. Also is the story 11-year-old Don Davis, of Deeper Life High School, Uyo whose mother, Deborah Okezie alleged was starved and sexually assaulted for bed wetting.

The Legal Assistance and Citizens Rights Initiative (LACRI) strongly condemns all acts of misconduct relating to the Dowen College Incident and implores the Lagos state government and all concerned parties to investigate and prosecute all the perpetrators of this evil act accordingly.
As an organisation committed to protect the weak, we are ready to step in to provide pro bono-legal assistance where necessary. The menace of bullying and abuse in schools must be met with stiffer sanctions and the perpetrators made scapegoats for this ugly trend to end.

Odu Ebam
Director Mobilization, LACRI