Over four advocacy groups have accused an associate professor at the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies of sexually abusing his two daughters.
The groups told journalists in Lagos Thursday that Adebisi Arewa, the associate professor, alleged that his daughters’ school teachers and a driver sexually abused his children.
His accusation led to the detention of one of the teachers, Adewale Bakare, by a magistrate court in Lagos and a life sentence of one Abiodun Martins, the driver, in February.
The groups include Advocate for Children and Vulnerable Persons Network (ACVPN) Concerned Parents and Educators (CPE), Radical Agenda Movement in the Nigerian Bar Association, and Stop the Abuse Against Children and Women Foundation (SAACWF) amongst others.
Toyin Taiwo-Ojo, a lawyer, who spoke on behalf of the groups, said Mr Arewa exploited the lacuna in the state’s justice system and went on an accusation spree that “innocent persons have defiled his daughters.”
According to Mrs Taiwo-Ojo, the professor had accused at least six teachers – five males and a female – of raping his daughters, who are minors, since 2019.
“One question that stands out among so many others is why are these girls being repeatedly abused, even in different schools? Is this another case of child abuse and parental negligence?” Mrs Taiwo-Ojo asked.
“As we speak, we have a teacher who is in Kirikiri for having defiled one of the daughters whom we shall call Miss O.
“And even though Miss O has confessed on three different occasions on video that she was lying against her teacher, one Mr Bakare.
“She has also confessed to her classmate and even her principal that the allegations against her teacher were all lies and she only said that because that was what her father wanted her to say.”
Mrs Taiwo-Ojo said the commissioner of police in the state on April 4 ordered a forensic interview on one of the minors as part of the investigation into the matter.
But a day before the scheduled date for the forensic interview, they charged the matter to court.
“One question which begs for an answer is why the tardiness and hurry to prosecute a poorly investigated matter”? Why is Mr Arewà afraid of the forensic interview? Is he afraid that the real truth of who is abusing the minor will be discovered?
“We are also aware that an almost similar scenario had earlier been enacted in 2019, when a sister NGO, Cece Yará Foundation, during an advocacy visit noticed that the child, Miss O, had been physically abused by the father and according to the report, wrote a letter to the Ministry of Youth and Social Development that the said child should be taken into protective custody.
“And in what will be best described as drawing away attention from the real issue of the physical abuse of Miss O, five days later, a driver in the school, one Abiodun Matthew, who never had any contact with the minor was arrested and accused of having defiled the girl. He has since been committed to life imprisonment by the court.”
The lawyer said they scheduled another date, May 12, for the forensic interview, but the minor’s father refused to present the child.
The groups described Mr Arewa’s allegations as an abuse of the legal process.
“We also find the Lagos State government culpable for the continual abuse of the children,” said Mrs Taiwo-Ojo.
“It is to our knowledge that the Ministry of Youth and Social Development obtained an order in 2019 to rescue the girls but failed to execute the order because they discovered that Mr Arewà had abruptly moved out of his rented abode when he got wind of their plan.”
Contacted for reaction, Mr Arewa described the allegations as “funny” and “outright lies.”
He said the investigation team had done a forensic interview with his daughter but still went to his daughter’s school to conduct another “forensic interview” without his knowledge.
He said the investigation team “promised her many things, …messed up her head” and made her accuse him of the sexual abuse.
When asked to respond to claims that he refused to present the minor for evaluation, he replied, “How many forensic interviews?”
Mr Arewa said the investigation had closed before some groups went to mount pressure on the commissioner of police who eventually reopened the matter.
“I wrote a petition and followed up with the commissioner up to about nine pages. He ordered that the man be taken to court at the Ilori Complex in Ikeja.
Mr Arewa also described as false, allegations that he bathed with his children, adding that they should get “good lawyers” to represent Mr Bakare.
The groups, chanting a protest song, marched to the Lagos State police command and demanded to speak with the commissioner of police, Abiodun Alabi.
They were obliged.
The commissioner later escorted them out, insisting that the matter was in court.
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