By S. I. Yakubu Esq.
So many versions of the unfortunate incident that led to the demise of a promising young child have been bandied on the media that it is impossible to sift fact from fiction. What can be distilled from all the noise, as factual so far is that; Late Sylvester complained about pains to his school clinic which he said resulted from playing football according to the school and subsequently his father reported that prior to his demise, the child informed him that he was beaten.
Having been a boarding student myself, I know for a fact that one can’t put anything beyond juveniles and with what goes on in most boarding schools across board, we have God to thank that our news media are not constantly littered with unfortunate incidents like the present, occasioned by bullying. The bullying phenomenon is further perpetuated by the unwritten mafia style code of silence which all students abide by and the gravity of which most teachers and administrators are genuinely ignorant of.
Understandably, a lot of persons are calling for the heads of the school administrators and the students allegedly involved in the beating. However despite the emotional underpinnings of this affair, rational heads must prevail, if we are to get to the root of this specific matter and prevent a future recurrence.
Contrary to the popular position, I cannot in good conscience, believe that for any reason whatsoever, Dowen College is complicit in this incident, either by way of a cover-up or otherwise.
My reason is simple; even if we are to concede that Dowen which has been in existence for over 2 decades as a reputable college, is evil, at the very least, they will be self-serving. I fail to see how the death of this young child and the scandalous foreseeable fallout that may have irreparably damaged the school’s reputation serves their interest. Applying the reasonable man’s test to this, we must then agree that whatever transpired on the ill-fated day that led to the death of Sylvester, Dowen would have taken such steps which they deemed necessary to prevent it; whether the steps were adequate, in hindsight, is another question all together.
Furthermore, If by a stretch of imagination the initial report of a football injury to the school clinic is true, and I believe so, because it will be an affront to common sense to believe that late Sylvester presented those blisters on his lips to the school clinic and any right thinking medical personnel would have assumed that it occurred during a football match and called the boy’s parents/guardian to tell them that, and the parents/guardian who came to pick up the child actually went home with him for almost 5days before reverting to the school that he had been beaten or at least the injuries observed could not have resulted from a football match; something must have occasioned the questioning that resulted in the purported dying declaration.
Furthermore, if Sylvester was so gravely ill as at the time he presented himself to the school why wasn’t he rushed to the hospital immediately by the school, the guardian and or the parents? I would assume that would have been the obvious thing to do. Also, the five alleged assailants are in custody and one is alleged to be a day student, who, it this is fact, could not have been physically present in the hostel on the said fateful night to carry out the beating. These and other salient issues which are in the public domain and which but for the present burning passions, I would have rehashed here, must agitate the rational mind on this matter.
The public outcry and opprobrium is understandable. No right thinking person will believe for any reason that parents deserve to lose their child this way or that any child deserves to lose his life from an incident of bullying or otherwise from school. Nevertheless, finding the involved parties guilty and murderous as has already been done in the court of public opinion will not serve public policy in the long haul and may muddy the waters for the investigators. At the very least, the school and the accused students must be given the benefit of the doubt, no matter how illusory their case may seem at the moment, given the gravity of the implications of their culpability as the case may be. The Police must be allowed to do their job of distilling the truth from the various apparent contradictions.
In furtherance of this objective, an independent autopsy must be executed with representatives of the interested parties involved. The police are equal to this unenviable task as they will follow where the evidence leads to no matter whose ox is gored.
Pending their findings, demanding for anyone’s head at this juncture, no matter how much passions are inflamed, will serve no purpose. As sad as it is, Sylvester is gone. Real justice for Sylvester would mean arriving at the truth of what actually happened, Real justice for Sylvester would mean punishment for his assailants (if proven) bearing in mind that they are also minors, who despite this alleged grievous incident are protected under our laws. Real justice for Sylvester will mean toning down the rhetoric so that the Police can gather cogent evidence to tell us what actually happened and also subjecting their findings to an independent review so that no one will claim that they have taken sides; Real Justice for Sylvester would mean taking measures to prevent a reoccurrence of this very sad story.
To Sylvester’s parents I can’t even begin to imagine what you are going through. But I will implore you to also sue for calm until this matter is unraveled. My sincere condolences to you, your entire family and Dowen College.