Opinion (9/12/2021): Justice For Oromoni And Victims Of The Killing Spree! – By Ayo Oyoze Baje

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“All I want is justice,”
– Sylvester Oromoni Senior (BBC News Pidgin).

If yours truly had the enormous powers available to Mister President one would have long declared one work-free day as a holiday, strictly and specifically meant for fervent and intense prayers of the citizens against the rampaging monster of insecurity. One is sore worried about premeditated evil acts that have turned several Nigerian states into the killing fields of the African continent. The unfolding tragic, yet preventable events that currently haunt and hound us as a people go beyond the physical to the spiritual realm.
Or, how else would one explain that concerned Nigerians wake up every day to the scary news of mind-bending terror as carried out by fully armed members of Boko Haram and ISWAP, bandits, kidnappers and bank-focused armed robbers? These spell a doom for the nation because no one can tell who the next set of victims would be. Beyond sentiments, it is a painful paradox that years after the All Progressives Congress-led administration openly made the campaign promise to wipe out all forms of insurgents within months of mounting the pedestal of power, here we find ourselves in the marshy pit of ever worsening insecurity..
Since 2014/15 political campaigns hundreds of thousands of those who swallowed their fanciful promises line, hook and sinker have been sent to their early graves! The surprising aspect of the recent killings is the fact that they involved mostly our voiceless and innocent children within the space of a few weeks. If in doubt, consider the recent spate of the strange death of 12-year old Sylvester Oromoni, a student of Dowen College, Lekki, Lagos State who allegedly died from the beating he received from fellow students in November.
There is yet another gory tale of eight children found dead in an abandoned car at Adelayo Street, Jah-Michael area of Badagry area of Lagos the previous Sunday. It is suspected that they may have died out of suffocation from excessive heat! Reports say they were declared missing on Saturday, and a search party was constituted, but they were however found in the abandoned car owned by an old woman.
And while we were still agonizing over those dastardly deaths came the heart-rending tragedy of how the driver of the articulated truck ran into the students at Grammar School Bus stop at Grammar School, Ojodu-Berger, Lagos killing some and maiming others. Eye witnesses, however, said at least 13 of the school children were killed after the accident.
With regards to the recurring ugly decimal of preventable deaths of the young ones in Nigeria, according to Amnesty International, (AI)’s Osai Ojigho, school children in some parts of northern Nigeria are constantly at risk of death or abduction. It is reported that “more than 780 children have been abducted for ransom since February 2021 during mass attacks on schools or religious institutions, with some of the children killed during the attacks”.
In fact, AI listed two girls and a boy abducted from Federal Government College, Birnin Yauri, Kebbi state on 17th June, 2021, who were found dead, days after their abduction. Also, two of the children were shot in their legs while the third was suspected to have died of ill-health.
Similarly, on 6th June, 2021, the body of a 3-year-old boy abducted at the Salihu Tanko Islamic School, Tegina, Niger state was found a few kilometres away from the town, while five other children abducted during the raid also died in captivity. At least 136 children between the ages of 3-15 were abducted during the raid and freed on the 26th of August after months in captivity.
Furthermore, on 17th February, 2021 Benjamin Doma was killed while trying to escape during an attack in his school, Government Science College Kagara, Niger state. 27 school children were reportedly abducted during the raid.
In addition, on 19th September, 2021 Edeh Donald, a student of Marist Comprehensive Academy, Uturu, Abia state died when their school bus was attacked by gunmen along Ihube road in Okigwe LGA while returning with his schoolmates from an excursion.
All the listed deaths are only part of a saddening spectrum of the scarce regards given to the sacredness of human life here in Nigeria. Painfully, it is getting worse by the day. So, the questions remain. Are the heartless killers of these innocent children not from some families? Were they brought up to value only their lives and not that of other fellow citizens? Do they not attend some churches and mosques? Were they not taught that there is a Judgment Day and that someday sooner or later each of us will die and that we shall have questions to answer with regards to how we lived our lives?
As for those in government what legacies are they going to leave behind and to be remembered for? That of overseeing killings upon killings of innocent souls and yet always reeling out blames of others but never themselves? Is it that of paying tributes or endless condolence messages and giving porous assurance that they are on top of the situation? That is, instead of taking proactive security measures and allowing for political restructuring and state police to bring security closer to the people? What manner of Nigeria are these leaders going to bequeath our youths, if there is no regard for their lives?
While it is heart-warming that more than 180,000 people have signed petitions demanding justice for Sylvester Oromoni, let the process be transparent because of the conflicting reports trailing his death. While Dowen College claimed that the boy died as a result of injuries sustained while playing football, a family member – Sylvester’s cousin – has given his version of events. He alleged on Twitter that five boys had accosted Sylvester, locking him in his hostel and giving him a chemical to drink – none of which has yet been corroborated by the police, who say they are still investigating.
With regards to Oromoni, the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, says that three students of Dowen College in the Lekki area of the state are currently in police custody for allegedly assaulting the victim.
On the deaths of the eight children, the owner of the vehicle is said to have been arrested by the police while the bodies of the victims have been moved to Badagry General Hospital. So far, the Police Public Relations Officer CSP, Adekunle Ajisebutu who confirmed the story, said that an autopsy will be conducted to determine the actual cause of death. In all of these, let justice be served and speedily too.
We currently live in terrible times when those in political power have refused to name and shame the sponsors of terrorism and therefore, violated the basic element of trust between them and the led majority. They have also grossly failed to live up to their primary responsibilities to guarantee the citizens’ security and provide for our welfare. There is inadequate value for the billions of Naira voted in budgetary allocations and surreptitiously spent annually to battle these criminal acts. Something must certainly have gone wrong somewhere!
We therefore, need the unity of purpose to cry out with one loud voice unto God, our maker for instant divine intervention. Let the lives of our children count, because like it or not, the future belongs to them.

– Baje is a public commentator and analyst

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