Four months after, Ogun govt, police keep mum on sexual harassment allegation against commissioner

Four months after, Ogun govt, police keep mum on sexual harassment allegation against commissioner

Four months after a 16-year old secondary school student accused the Ogun State Commissioner of Environment, Abiodun Abdul-Balogun, of attempting to rape her, the police and the state government are yet to act.

PREMIUM TIMES in January reported how a Senior Secondary 3 student, Barakat Melojuekun, alleged that the commissioner fondled her breasts and recited incantations to scare her in his apartment on December 31, 2020.

She said her screams forced Mr Abdul-Balogun to jump off her and offer her N2,000 to shut up.

The state police command later invited the commissioner for interrogation in early January but has failed to update the public on its investigation.

The allegations against the commissioner elicited outrage on social media and many Nigerians called for his removal from office and prosecution.

Hours after this newspaper’s report, the Ogun State Government announced the suspension of Mr Abdul-Balogun as commissioner.

The government in a statement signed by Tokunbo Talabi, the Secretary to the Ogun State Government, said the commissioner should vacate his office pending the conclusion of the police investigation into the matter.

Although the government promised to inform the public of the police investigation’s outcome, nothing has been said four months after.

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Commissioner threatens victim’s family

This newspaper also reported that Mr Abdul-Balogun threatened the family of the victim. This forced Miss Melojuekun, in a short video, to plead with Nigerians to allow the matter to be laid to rest.

She, however, did not retract the allegations.

“You can recall that I was the young lady in the viral video about sexual harassment by the Commissioner for the Environment in Ogun State. I am using this opportunity to thank all meaningful Nigerians that showed their support and love towards this matter.”

“…I now want to use this opportunity to appeal to meaningful Nigerians to please allow this matter to rest. Thanks”, she said then in shaky voice.

When this newspaper confronted Abimbola Oyeyemi, the state police spokesperson, with the stance of the law that the matter is beyond the family, he accepted.

Mr Oyeyemi, told our correspondent in January that the victim and her family cannot withdraw the case against Mr Abdul-Balogun because it is an offence committed against the state.

“The victim cannot withdraw the case because she is underage. More so, the family are not directly involved, so cannot withdraw the matter as well. If our investigation proved that the commissioner is guilty, we will charge him to court,” he said at the time.

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Activists criticise police, government

Four months after state government and the police initiated investigation, the public has been left in the dark on the matter.

Our correspondent, on several occasions, reached out to police spokesperson, Mr Oyeyemi, via telephone calls and text messages, seeking updates but he did not respond.

This newspaper encountered the same challenges with the state government as the SSG, Mr Talabi, did not respond to enquiries.

The state governor’s spokesperson, Kunle Somorin, did not also respond to calls and text messages.

Not satisfied with the development, Olowolafe Dunsi, a social commentator and activist, said the failure of authorities to give update on the matter is suspicious.

“A government that is ready to clean the system would have updated the public on happenings,” he said.

“It is sad that the police have also, in their usual manner, moved towards the side of the rich. Investigation into the case should not take more than a month but now in its fourth month and no one is taking responsibility. It is sad and barbaric. Dapo Abiodun must act before it is too late.”

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The convener of Reaching Minds Initiative, an NGO advocating for social justice, Abass Oyeyemi, insisted that authorities must ensure that the matter is not covered up.

“We are surprised that despite the fact that Ogun govt, in 2020, took brilliant steps against Gender-Based Violence by inaugurating a Gender-Based Violence Prohibition Committee to respond appropriately to any infraction of the law, this is still happening.

“Mr Abiodun needs not only to act but must act fast and ensure police speak on it findings. No one is above the law and this case should serve as a deterrent to potential defaulters.

“We want serious media organizations like yours to follow the case to the end. This will help to protect (the) sexual wellbeing of women and girls.”

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