LATE SYLVESTER OROMONI, JNR; WHO SHOULD BE HELD RESPONSIBLE?
Since the report of the ugly incident of the deceased 12y/o boy who was allegedly bullied and beaten to death by his schoolmates, the social space has been disturbed as regards who should be held responsible.
This piece is intended to shed more light in that regard.
For support, this paragraph shall briefly address some useful key terms used in subsequent segments, where:
- Crime; is a behavior, either by act or omission, defined by statutory or common law as deserving of punishment.
- Criminal law/laws of crime; are rules and regulations governing or that define crimes and punishments, regulate and sometimes spells out procedures to be followed in initiating criminal matters.
In Nigeria, there are majorly two of these laws. The Criminal Code (applicable to all 17 southern states) and the Penal Code (applicable to all 19 northern states).
- Murder (southern states)/Culpable Homicide Punishable with Death (northern states): simply put, murder or Culpable Homicide Punishable with Death is an unlawful and intentional killing of a human being by another human. (See Section 316 of the Criminal Code Act and Section 220 of the Penal Code Act). The aforementioned laws may be with slight alterations as different states in the country are at liberty to make provisions suited to their distinct immediate environment.
- Proof of a crime: this rule states that crimes must be proven beyond all sense of doubt. This means that the prosecuting counsel must prove that the accused did kill the deceased. This is often the most difficult phase of a criminal trial as an infused sense of doubt may render the trial futile. This means that the prosecution must persuade the jury that the evidence presented at trial supports no alternative logical explanation.
For the charge of Murder/Culpable Homicide Punishable with Death to succeed, the following tests must be passed;
- That the deceased DIED from an act or omission caused by the accused;
- That the accused committed the act or omission with the KNOWLEDGE of killing or of causing GRIEVOUS BODILY HARM;
- That there was INTENTION to commit the crime; and
- That the act or omission itself was COMMITTED.
- Motive; answers the ‘why’ in a crime.
NB: Motive is no strong ground for a court to convict an accused for murder. Although, it is persuasive in its nature. Hence, the motive in Slyvester Oromoni’s case is the invitation and his refusal to join a cult.
The offense of murder is categorically defined in S316 of the Criminal Code Act and Section 220 of the Penal Code Act of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Of course, sages and learned lords have at several instances in various cases established or given flesh to these terms, just so to gain reasonable insight of same – the subject.
However, there are not more than four instances when killing can be lawful. Put differently, killing is lawful when;
- a sitting governor assents a death warrant issued by a competent court following an accused’s conviction.
- a person is killed in self-defense, in the defense of another person, or the defense of property from unlawful aggression by another person.
- a person is killed in the course of a valid arrest or a process to prevent a lawfully detained person from escaping, as long as necessary reasonable force is used.
- a person is killed as a result of law enforcement agent, using reasonable and necessary force to put down a riot, insurgency, or mutiny.
TO the billion-dollar question; WHO should be held responsible for late Slyvester Oromoni’s death?
According to Section 30 of the Criminal Code. Any person who commits the crime of murder is subject to the death penalty under section 319 of the Criminal Code.
The accused schoolmates?
The issue at hand is the criminal liability of an accused individual(s) who is under the age of majority (17/18). A person under the age of seven, as well as a person under the age of twelve but not less than eight years, is not criminally responsible for an act or omission unless it is proven that, at the time of the act or omission, the accused could know that he/she should not do the act or make the omission, or is reasonably presumed to have sufficient knowledge of the act or omission.
The deceased’s school and teacher(s)?
In negligence cases, where the defendant fails to fulfill the legal standard of care, a breach of duty may be proven. The claimant must show that the defendant owed the claimant a duty of care after establishing that the defendant owed the claimant a duty of care. Although the breach of duty test is largely objective, there may be minor variances.
Parents of the accused?
If the parents of the perpetrators move them abroad, as it is rumored, to avoid criminal accountability, they will be liable for accessory after the fact of the murder, which is punishable by life imprisonment if convicted under Section 10 of the penal code.
In criminal law, an accessory is a person who becomes equally responsible for another person’s crime by knowingly and willfully assisting the criminal before or after the crime.
In law, an accomplice is a person who, by knowingly and willfully assisting another in committing a crime, becomes equally culpable. An accomplice can be either a helper or otherwise. The accessory assists a criminal before the crime is committed, whereas the abettor assists the perpetrator during the act.
The deceased gave the names of five of his schoolmates who were responsible for his agony before he died. It is therefore a commonplace to predict that he died as a result of the torture and poisoning he endured.
Can the testimony of a dead or dying person be relied upon by the court?
Well, the law generally empowers the judge to weigh and attach probative worth to shreds of evidence tendered.
However, in this case, the major evidence the court may rely on is the testimony of late Slyvester Oromoni, which is professionally labeled as “DYING DECLARATION”.
A dying declaration may be oral as well as written.
Generally, the law assumes the testimony of a dying man as the truth; on the premise that a dying man CANNOT tell lies.
This suffices to make late Sly’s testimony admissible as the autopsy conducted affirms that he was indeed beaten and poisoned. It is also worthy of note that the declaration of a dying person needs not to be corroborated.
As we await the court’s decision in this matter, it is my earnest wishes that Sylvester Oromoni’s soul, rests.
Author: Solomon Oluwaseun, Olukoya (a.k.a. #ThePeople’sAdovocate and #HumanisT) is a student of law, a pundit, with keen interest, in human rights, justice, technology, AI, and medical law subjects.