- Victim, father withdraw case
The suspended Commissioner of Environment in Ogun State, Abiodun Abudu-Balogun on Sunday faced more trouble following the insistence of the police to go ahead with the investigation and prosecution over allegation of sexual harassment against him by a 16-year-old secondary school girl, Barakat Mayowa Melojuekun.
This is despite the fact that the victim and her father have announced their withdrawal from the controversial issue.
Barakat, who is a student of Victory Model College, in Ogun Waterside LGA, made the allegation in a video posted on Facebook on Saturday.
The teenager alleged that Abudu-Balogun, who was a member of the House of Representatives, connived with her uncle and a teacher to lure her to the commissioner’s residence at Ita Otu, Ogun Waterside LG.
She said she was lured to the commissioner’s house on the pretence that Abudu-Balogun would assist her in securing a job as computer operator.
According to her, the incident happened on December 31.
Narrating her ordeal, she said: “On getting to Abudu’s house at Ita Otu, he said I should sit down inside the car that I must not get down.
Then a lady, Mariam Eniola from Ita Otu came to take me to one living room. Then Mr. Austin entered and asked, why did I not pick my phone yesterday, I answered that I was not with my phone, he said okay, then took me to a room inside the honourable’s house.
“The honourable then came in and Mr. Austin (a teacher) went out. Honourable Abudu locked the door instantly and put the key in his pocket.
“So he moved closer to me and asked the name of my school; he said how much is my school fees and I told him that it is N30,000; he asked me the person paying my school fees, I told him that it is my dad. He said ‘okay that one is small thing’.
“He said do I plan to start a business, I said no, that I want to go to a higher institution first. He said how much would I need, I said any amount; he said I should state an amount, I said any amount.
“He moved closer to me and he touched my breast; I moved away that he should not touch my breast, he asked me that won’t I cooperate, I said why will I cooperate? Then he started pressing my breast and my body; I was struggling to free myself from him. Then he started reciting some incantation and wanted to place his hands on my head, I moved my head and I said he should not touch my head. He wanted to force me inside the bathroom, then I started shouting.
“Because people are around his compound and he did not want them to know what was happening, he left me; he gave me N2,000 for transport and asked me to leave; I rejected the money; he said if I don’t accept the money, he won’t let go of me. So I collected the money and he opened the door.
“He then told Mr. Austin to take me to our house.
“This has never happened to me in my life.”
In a swift reaction, the commissioner, in a statement he signed, described the allegation as “political blackmail” by those he called his “adversaries.”
“Let me state emphatically that I never attempted to sexually harass anyone,” he said.
But a statement signed by the Secretary to the State Government, Tokunbo Talabi, on Sunday, announced the commissioner’s suspension from office “pending the conclusion of an independent investigation into the allegation of sexual harassment.”
Misconception and misunderstanding
In what appears to be a twist, on Sunday night, the teenager appeared on another short video where she said there were misconception and misunderstanding about her and the commissioner.
In the 36 seconds video which was circulated on various social media platforms, the girl thanked all Nigerians for the love and interest in the case. She appealed to the media and Nigerians to allow the matter to be laid to rest.
She said, “You can recall that I was the young lady in the viral video about sexual harassment by Commissioner for Environment in Ogun State.
“I am using this opportunity to thank all well-meaning Nigerians that show their support and love towards this matter.
“And I want you to know that there were misconception and misunderstanding between me and the commissioner. I now want to use this opportunity to appeal to well-meaning Nigerians to please allow this matter to be laid to rest, thanks.”
Also speaking, Barakat’s father, Melojuekun Monsuru, in another video insisted that he was no longer interested in pursuing the case against the commissioner.
“Sincerely, I discovered that there were few misconceptions and misunderstandings along the line between my daughter and the honourable commissioner. And having discovered this, I deem it fit to come to the public and inform Nigerians and the international community that this matter should be allowed to be laid to rest.
“I don’t have interest in this matter again. I’m withdrawing my case and I want them as well to support me the same way they did in the beginning of this matter. Thank you very much, I’m very grateful for the show of love and support,” Mr Melojuekun said.
However, the Ogun State Police Command on Monday insisted on proceeding with investigation into the allegations.
The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) of the command, Abimbola Oyeyemi, confirmed this on Monday in Abeokuta. He disclosed that the Commissioner of Police, Edward. A. Ajogun, had ordered that the case be transferred to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) at the Police headquarters in Eleweran, Abeokuta, the state capital.
When asked if the victim’s family had officially withdrawn the case against the commissioner, Oyeyemi said, “The father of the victim has no locus standi for him to tell the police that he is no longer pressing charges against the commissioner because he is not our complainant.
“He is not the person that was directly involved in the case. The victim is his daughter and even the daughter herself cannot withdraw the case because she is an underage.
“Secondly, the case is an offense committed against the state, so they are no longer complainants; it is the commissioner of police versus the suspect (Abudu-Balogun),” Oyeyemi said.