12 December 2017

Nigeria: Police Lied, I Paid My Way Out of Prison After Torture - Man Accused of Rape

Michael Asiwaju, the man who was accused by a University of Ilorin undergraduate student of blackmail, intimidation and rape, has accused the spokesperson of the Kwara State Police Command, Ajayi Okesanmi, of torturing him overnight and forcing him to make a confession statement he gave the police.

The matter between Messrs. Asiwaju, Okesanmi and the undergraduate (referred as Linda to avoid using her real name), came to light after Mr. Asiwaju accused the police spokesperson of extorting $2,000.00, N115,000.00 and a Samsung smartphone from him in July 2017, on Twitter.

He made the allegation as part of the online campaign for the scrapping of the police's Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, due to reports of the unit's brutality, rights abuses and extra-judicial killings.

Mr. Okesanmi, however, denied he extorted Mr. Asiwaju. Instead, he said, the accused was arrested for blackmailing and repeatedly raping Linda. He told PREMIUM TIMES that Mr Asiwaju escaped while he was being led to search his hotel room. He said the police has been trying to arrest him since he allegedly escaped.

The Inspector General of Police has since ordered an investigation of the allegation of extortion against Mr. Okesanmi.

Allegation of Rape and Blackmail

Linda told PREMIUM TIMES that Mr. Asiwaju, who she met on Instagram, took her nude pictures and threatened to send the photographs to her father if she refuses to sleep with him. She alleged that after she succumbed to his blackmail, he, unknown to her, made a video of them making love and used the video to further blackmail her into sleeping with him repeatedly.

She claimed she got sick of his persistent blackmail and rape that she decided to tell her pastor. Her pastor then narrated her ordeal to Mr Okesanmi who asked her to lure Mr. Asiwaju from Lagos to Ilorin, where he was eventually nabbed by the police.

Contrary to Mr. Okesanmi's claim that Mr. Asiwaju escaped from police custody, Linda said when she asked to find out how the case will proceed the day after Mr. Asiwaju was arrested in Ilorin, the police spokesperson told her not to worry that Mr. Asiwaju will no longer threaten her.

Asiwaju's Denial

But in a long telephone conversation with PREMIUM TIMES, Mr. Asiwaju said he neither blackmailed nor raped Linda. He said he and Linda started as very good friends. They spent hours talking on the telephone and chatted via WhatsApp and Instagram. According to him, Linda constantly asked for financial assistance which he regularly obliged. Things went smoothly between them until they decided to meet in person in Lagos.

He said before they met, he asked her if he should book a room in a hotel and she said there was no problem as long as he gave her N15,000, which he promptly sent to her. But when she arrived, she refused to allow him make love to her. According to him, she pleaded that he should wait until the next day. He said he refused and demanded his money back. But she explained that she cannot do an online transfer and that he should wait until the next day before she could withdraw the money and give it back to him.

"I said 'you are a very complicated human being. You told me to transfer money to you, I transferred money to you. Now I want to touch you and you want to spoil my name in this hotel.' She later asked me to order for condoms but when I opened the door, she started shouting and screaming: 'Rape! Rape'!" he said.

He said some police officers from the Igando police station and the hotel management intervened. According to him, she apologised and asked that they should return to their hotel room but he had had enough and turned her down. He said he didn't want anything to do with her again. He just wanted her to return the money he transferred to her earlier.

Mr. Asiwaju said she left her phone with the hotel management and the next day she returned the money to hotel management and her phone was returned to her. He said he then asked the hotel employees to share the money among themselves as he did not want to drive back from Lagos Island, where he lives, to Igando for N15,000.

He said two days later, Linda called and apologised profusely for the way she acted at the hotel. He said he forgave her despite warning from his manager. He said they arranged to meet at another hotel at Igando and that he gave Linda N40,000 after having sex with her.

Mr. Asiwaju said after that, they had consensual sex more than seven times and each time he had given Linda money. He said Linda started demanding for the kind of money he could not afford. He said there was a time she demanded for N300,000 and when he told her he couldn't afford to give her that kind of money, she became mad and rained insult him and they subsequently stopped communicating.

"But she called again apologising and then asked that I should send her N150,000.00 I told her I don't have N150,000.00 I told her does she think I plug money from the sky?"

He said contrary to Linda's and Mr. Okesanmi's claim that he was lured to Ilorin from Lagos, he was actually in Ilorin to look for a showroom for his furniture and electronics business.

"The Police Spokesperson Lied"

Mr. Asiwaju said Mr. Okesanmi lied when he said he escaped on the morning after his arrest. He said he was not lodged at Boniva Hotel contrary to the claim of the police spokesperson, so there was no need to go and search his room as the police claimed they wanted to do before he escaped.

"You can go to Bovina Hotel and request for their CCTV footage. I was not lodged there." We only met outside the hotel," he claimed.

He said after the police arrested him, he was handcuffed and suspended on a bar in-between two tables.

"The PPRO told me he would frame me and say I was a cultist if I don't cooperate. He was slapping me and dictating what I should write in the statement. I had not felt such pain in my life. I had no choice but to comply. He collected the $2,000 and initially asked me to transfer N500,000 but I told him I don't have money but he saw my account balance and said I was lying but I explained that it was the money sent by my customer for me to supply them goods. I eventually transferred N115,000 to the account of the sergeant before he (the PPRO) left the office. He also warned me not to tell anyone what I was there for.

"In the morning. I was tired and hungry. In fact, it was the sergeant who took me to a restaurant and bought me food of N700. They also said they were going to keep my phone," he said.

Mr. Asiwaju said he believed he was set up by Linda, who he alleged had an intimate relationship with Mr. Okesanmi due to the familiar manner they acted and spoke while he was being detained by the police.

He said the police released him and told him to return to Lagos and warned him not to return to Ilorin contrary to the claim that he escaped.

Mr. Asiwaju said he was not aware that he was wanted by the police as they had not invited him for questioning since releasing him.

When asked why Mr. Asiwaju had not been declared wanted if he indeed escaped from police custody, the police spokesperson said it was because they were more concerned with deleting the nude pictures and video from the suspect's phone and Linda did not want them to push the case further because it could tarnish her image.

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