A 16-year-old girl allegedly raped by an Islamic cleric in Osun State has vowed to commit suicide if her family accepts an offer to settle the matter out of court.
The proposed settlement includes that the accused admit to committing the offence, tender an unreserved apology and pay N17 million for damages done.
A magistrate’s court sitting in Ede on Thursday adjourned the case involving the Osun-based Islamic cleric, Abdulrahman Habeebulah, who was accused of raping the girl.
Premium Times exclusively reported how Mr Abdulrahman (popularly known as Al-Edewy) raped the teenage student of his Islamic school in Ede, a town in Osun State.
The cleric did not deny sleeping with the girl but claimed he had married her a day before the first rape incident.
Mr Abdulrahman could not provide any evidence of marriage as the girl and her family debunked the marriage claims.
The police arraigned the accused before the magistrate’s court on a 3-count charge of ‘kidnapping’ the underage girl; ‘unlawfully taking her away against the will of her parents, with intent to carnally know her’; and ‘unlawful and indecent assault by touching her breast’.
The family, however, frowned at the exclusion of rape in the charges levelled against Mr Abdul-rahman.
The magistrate, A. A Olowolagba, on Friday ruled that the case be adjourned to August 21 for a report of a settlement, otherwise, it would be opened for hearing.
Speaking with journalists after the court proceedings, the victim’s counsel, Abdulrasheed Maisolati, explained that the accused will be the one to decide his own fate.
“We are not under any pressure. The only person that can withdraw the case according to the law is the nominal complainant, which is the girl in question.
“Right from the point of arraignment, we have hoped for a settlement out of court. When the accused reached out to us for the terms of the settlement, we presented them but thinking he is smart, they rejected it.”
“He thinks he can use coercion by involving some members of the family. Now with the adjournment, they have agreed to go with our terms with slight modification from our end.”
Meanwhile, the victim, in an interview with this paper, said if the law is not allowed to take if full course, she would commit suicide.
“He deflowered me and the deed done cannot be undone. They should allow the court to decide, else I will kill myself.”
Terms of settlement
As obtained by this newspaper, the terms of the proposed settlement include that the accused admit to committing the offence, tender an unreserved apology and pay N17 million for damages done.
Also, he “shall undertake to reimburse the girl for the medical bill this incident caused her.
“That all the posts on social media insulting and maligning the integrity and chastity of the victim either sponsored by the defendant or written by the students or sympathisers of the defendant will be removed or deleted forthwith,” the terms read in parts.
But in the copy amended by Mr Abdulrahman’s legal team, the responsibility of the crime and the reimbursement for damages were omitted.
PREMIUM TIMES discovered that members of the victim’s family share dissenting views on the settlement.
While some believe that the out-of-court settlement is a welcomed development, some said the matter should be treated as a criminal case and justice should prevail.
In separate interviews with this newspaper on Friday, two of the victim’s elder brothers, Muideen Oloyede and Monsur, expressed their grievances against the decision of settlement.
Monsur said; “This man (the accused) thinks he is smart because of the affluence. This is the third case against him in this same court. He cannot get away with it this time.”
“They were the ones who requested for settlement, we were forced to bring the terms. He did not want to accept the rape allegation. And if he doesn’t agree to that, let justice prevail,”
“The clerics and community leaders want to force us to accept the accused terms, which does not contain the allegation. That is why they are mounting pressure on the elders of the family,” Muideen said.
According to them, the proponents of the settlement stated that the family should save the accused and his family from further disgrace.
A representative of the elders who showed up at the court premises made efforts to persuade the two brothers to accept the terms presented by Mr Abdul-rahman.
Group writes IGP
A human rights group, Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre- RULAAC, had written the Inspector-General of Police to order the Commissioner of Police, to re-arrest the accused and prosecute him for rape, in addition to the other charges already contained in the Charge Sheet.
The letter dated July 15 was signed the Executive Director of the organisation, Okechukwu Nwanguma.
” …the police decided to downplay the enormity of the crime by arraigning the alleged rapist on 3 count charges of ‘kidnapping’ the underage girl; ‘unlawfully taking her away against the will of her parents, with intent to carnally know her’; and ‘unlawful and indecent assault by touching her breast’, all contrary to and punishable under the Criminal Code of Osun State, 2002,” the letter read
“It is surprising that nowhere in the Charge Sheet did the Police prosecutors mention Rape which is the primary and most egregious of the several crimes allegedly committed against the innocent young girl by the alleged rapist who has three wives.”
It should be recalled that the group had earlier written the state commissioner of police but did not get any response.