The Ogun State Commissioner for Environment who was accused of attempted rape by a teenager in January has secretly resigned his appointment from government, PREMIUM TIMES can report.
Abiodun Abdul-Balogun has also coerced the family of the victims not to testify against him in court, an action that has stopped police and the state’s department of public prosecutions from proceeding with the matter, sources said.
The accused did not deny when our correspondent confronted him with our findings. He simply pleaded that the matter be laid to rest.
How it started
A 16-year old secondary school student, Barakat Melojuekun, accused Mr Abdul-Balogun, of attempting to rape her in his residence on December 31, 2020.
She alleged that the commissioner fondled her breasts while reciting incantations, apparently to scare her. She also said her screams forced Mr Abdul-Balogun to jump off her and offer her N2,000 to shut up.
Mr Abdul-Balogun had offered her a lift, lobbied to get her telephone number, and promised to get her a job as a computer operator. Rather than getting the job, she claimed she was molested.
The teenager said she reported the case to her parents who escalated it to the police.
As expected, the police on January 1, 2021, invited the commissioner to Abigi Police Station for interrogation.
During this period, the only defence Mr Abdul-Balogun pulled was that he was being set up by his political opponents.
The allegations against the commissioner elicited outrage on social media and many Nigerians called for his removal from office and prosecution.
Suspension from office
Hours after PREMIUM TIMES’ 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.
PREMIUM TIMES reported that police and the government promised to inform the public of the investigation’s outcome but nothing has been said four months after.
After this newspaper’s report on refusal of police to make its findings known to the public, sources confided in our reporter that Mr Abdul-Balogun has since left the government.
A close associate of the commissioner who did not want his name mentioned said the commissioner resigned from office months after the allegations in order to bury his shame and has since coerced the victim’s family.
Before now, our correspondent reported that Mr Abdul-Balogun threatened the family of the victim. This forced the victim, Miss Melojuekun, in a short video, to plead with Nigerians to allow the matter be laid to rest.
In her video, she did not retract the allegations but simply said: “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 a shaky voice.
This newspaper heard that the threat never stopped even after police completed their investigation and made its findings known to the Ogun State department of public prosecution for advice.
“He threatened the victim and her family. He even offered them money that I was aware of back then but I can’t say if the family accepted it or not. The refusal of the family has since stopped the police and government from prosecuting him,” a source in the state ministry of justice told our correspondent.
Also, sources within Governor Dapo Abiodun administration told PREMIUM TIMES that Mr Abdul-Balogun resigned following the shame that followed his suspension.
“He could not defend himself against the allegations and the governor insisted that he was not going to reinstate him until he did. The commissioner had to resign.”
When our correspondent reached out to the victim, she maintained that her parents have asked her to allow the matter rest.
Police, govt quiet
Sources also confirmed to PREMIUM TIMES that since Mr Abdul-Balogun resigned from government, the police and Ogun State ministry of justice have failed to take the matter further.
The institutions also decided to keep mum on the matter in order not to trigger public outrage.
This newspaper spoke with the state police public relations officer, Abimbola Oyeyemi, on why the force refused to act but he put the blame on the department of public prosecutions.
“We have long completed our investigation and we have sent the commissioner’s case file to the DPP for advice. We have since been waiting for the DPP to respond.”
When PREMIUM TIMES pressed further on what the police found out in its investigation, Mr Oyeyemi simply said “I can’t disclose that except the DPP advice comes out. They are the ones that will tell us to either charge him to court or not. Police cannot tell you the outcome of their investigation so you have to reach the Attorney-General.”
Our correspondent also reached out to the Attorney-General, Akingbolahan Adeniran, who confirmed that the matter has been put on hold since the embattled commissioner resigned.
He said Mr Abdul-Balogun “has resigned his appointment. He is no longer a State Government official. The Police have indeed sent the case file including an affidavit from the victim that she is not willing to testify.
“We cannot prove the offence without the victim’s testimony and it is our policy in sexual violence cases not to compel victim testimony. We have not publicised this in order not to expose her to danger from fanatics and others,” he said in a text message to our correspondent.
Confronted with our findings, Mr Abdul-Balogun did not deny his resignation and allegations that he corced the victim and her family.
“What do you want? I don’t want to talk about this matter again. This is a matter I don’t want to talk about. It was political. Even our leaders in politics have their past. It is the price for political office.
“I’m not going to say anything again. I don’t want to comment further. Just do me that favour. I don’t have comment,” the embattled politician simply said.
An activist and lawyer, Ibukun Ajibade, condemned the state government and police for not keeping the public informed.
“Something is fishy. The matter seems to have been settled behind the door and criminal matters are not meant to be treated that way. Criminal matters are to be prosecuted because crime are not committed against individuals.
“It is not at the discretion of the victim to say she’s not prosecuting the case or would not testify. The court can compel someone to even testify but I agree that if the victim is not cooperating, the success of the suit will be shaky.
“I believe that the family have been coerced but if the state is serious with the matter, they can always take it further. The law is simply enacted in interest of the rich at the expense of the poor. It is not a family affair that should be settled on the basis of alternative dispute resolution or in a round table.”