A 31-year-old cook, Idowu Akinwunmi, has narrated how the Divisional Police Officer in charge of Onikan Station, SP Adekunle Awe, allegedly molested, extorted and threatened her life. The victim told PUNCH Metro that the incident occurred on April 15, 2014. She explained that on April 14 she was arrested by the police for “spurious” reasons. She said:
“I work at an eatery on Keffi Street, Obalende, as a cook. The eatery also has a tailor’s shop in the compound and it belongs to the same person. There is also a quarters where we all live in the compound. Most of the workers are from Cotonou, Benin Republic. On Monday, a popular customer, known as Friday, came to eat. He later left, but some moments later, he returned to say he could not get a bus home. Friday had been making advances at me, but we were not a couple. I allowed him to sleep over.”
Akinwunmi said around 1am, her boss, who discovered that someone was sleeping over, called the police to arrest her and Friday. She said two other people, who slept over at the tailors’ quarters were also rounded up. She continued:
“My madam called policemen to arrest all of us. I had only a pair of shorts, a shirt and a wrapper on. I had N11, 000 in my pocket and my phone was not with me. On getting to the station, I got the phone of a policewoman and used it to call one of the tailors to come and help. In the morning of Tuesday, two tailors, Ben and Matthias, arrived to bail out their friends, but they were also arrested, bringing our total number to six.”
The victim said a few hours later, she felt sticky and pleaded with a policewoman on duty to allow her have a bath. She said she could not use the shower because it was too filthy, adding that on her way out, she met the DPO for the first time. She said:
“I met the DPO along the corridor. He asked me what happened and I explained everything to him. Around 10pm on Tuesday, the DPO sent a policeman to call Friday and I. I was wearing boxers and a top. I stayed at the counter and Friday went in to see the DPO. A few minutes later, Friday came out and the DPO called me in. The DPO said he could make sure that I spent the rest of my life in jail, but I begged him. He then came close to me and started rubbing his hands all over my body but I rejected his advances. He said my boss had told him that he could do whatever he wanted to do with me. He said since I was from Benin Republic, if he killed me, nothing would happen.
He said he would also make sure that the remaining five suspects would be sent to prison. At this point, the DPO had already taken off his clothes. Since I was afraid for my life, I allowed the DPO to have his way. I begged him to use a condom, but he refused. He pushed me to a smaller room in his office and put me on the bed and had sex with me. Immediately after he had finished, he told me to shower in a bathroom inside his office.”
The mother of two told PUNCH Metro that the DPO promised to ensure that she was released the next morning and ordered a policeman to take her back into the cell. Akinwunmi said when she returned to the cell, she cried through the night. She said the following morning, she told some female police officers about the incident. She said when her people came to bail her from the station, the DPO asked one Inspector Taiwo to bring her to his office.
“The DPO gave me his telephone number and asked for mine, but I didn’t give it to him. He then said I could leave and promised that no one would collect bail money from us. However, on getting to the counter, the policemen on duty collected N30, 000 from us,” she said.
Punch’s correspondent learnt that the victim immediately went to the Lagos Island Maternity Clinic to do a test. A copy of the medical report, signed by one Dr. R. A. Seriki, stated:
“A complaint of sexual assault: General clinical condition satisfactory; no laceration, no bruises, no areas of hyperemia, negative for HIV 1 and 2, pregnancy negative. Has been placed on PEP and emergency contraception.”
The matter was said to have been reported at the Area A Police Command, Lion Building, after which the Area Commander, ACP Imohimi Edgal, invited the victim for interrogation. PUNCH Metro learnt that the matter had been transferred to the office of the Commissioner of Police.
The Director, Project Alert on Violence Against Women, Dr. Josephine Effah-Chukwumah, urged the police to handle the matter seriously. She said:
“The fact that there were no bruises does not mean that rape did not occur. The moment there is a direct threat to life on the condition of sex, the offence is rape. It is unacceptable.”
Meanwhile, the Network on Police Reform in Nigeria has petitioned the National Human Rights Commission over the alleged rape of Akinwunmi.The petition, dated April 16 2014 and signed by NOPRIN’s National Coordinator, Mr. Okechukwu Nwagunma, read in part:
“We were informed that she (Akinwunmi) was detained in the cell…“She said that Awe forcefully had carnal knowledge of her without protection after which he threatened to send her to prison.”
The petition added that Akinwunmi was released after some policemen at the Onikan police station had extorted money from her. It was gathered that the Police Service Commission had received copies of the petition, while the Lagos Office of the NHRC had been directed to investigate the complaint. When contacted, the Special Adviser to the Executive Secretary of the NHRC, Mr. Henry Obe, said:
“Yes we received a petition concerning the rape of a woman by a Lagos DPO.“The case was forwarded to the NHRC Lagos office today for investigation.”
When Awe was contacted, he denied the allegation, saying it was all falsehood. He said:
“That allegation is totally false; I am aware of it. But I cannot talk now because I am driving. I am on my way to the Lagos Police Command. I will call you when I am through.”
The state Police Public Relations Officer, Ngozi Braide, could not be reached for comment. Calls made to her phone were not answered. Also text messages sent to the phones were not responded to as of the time of going to the press by 9pm.