Journalists and other members of the public were on Monday barred from proceedings of an Ikeja Coroner’s Court unravelling the circumstances surrounding the death of Sylvester Oromoni, a 12-year-old student of Dowen College, Lagos.
The Coroner, Magistrate Mikhail Kadiri, ordered journalists and other members of the public out of the court because the deceased’s sister, a minor, was slated to testify.
The minor came with her father, Sylvester Oromoni (Snr.), who is also slated to testify.
Invoking Section 191 of the Child Rights Law of Lagos State, the Coroner said, “Proceedings will be held privately.
“Members of the press and the general public are hereby excused.”
Earlier, when the minor entered the witness box, counsel for the Nigerian Bar Association, Bernard Oniga, requested that the press and others members of the public to leave the court.
“Your honour, I will like to bring to your attention Section 191 of the Child Rights Law of Lagos State, which pertains to the protection of the privacy of a child during proceedings.
“A minor needs to be protected from undue publicity or the process of labelling as well information that may lead to identification.
“This matter has been highly sensationalised. Any minor that so wishes to appear before it must be accorded some level of privacy because she still has a future ahead,” he said.
Counsel for one of the accused students of Dowen College, Godwin Omoaka (SAN), agreed with Oniga’s submission.
The 12-year-old student reportedly died on November 30, 2021, from injuries sustained in an attack by five senior students of Dowen College for refusing to join a cult.
It was also alleged that he was forced to drink an obnoxious substance by his attackers.
Advice from Lagos State Directorate of Public Prosecutions released on January 4, however, disputed the allegations, stating that two autopsies revealed the student’s cause of death as acute bacterial pneumonia due to severe sepsis.