EXCLUSIVE – Rape: Update On Seyitan’s Legal Case Against D’banj

Following the press statement released by Ms Seyitan Babatayo, on 23rd June 2020, where she detailed the chain of events and activities that transpired since she instituted a case of rape and intimidation against Mr Oladapo Daniel Oyebanji aka D’banj, below is a detailed report on Stand to End Rape Initiative (STER)’s interventions to date.

Following reports of her detention by the Intelligence Response Team (IRT) team of the Nigeria Police, STER, other civil society organisations, and individuals worked to facilitate Ms Babatayo’s release.

The following day, we received another report that Ms Babatayo was being held against her will by D’banj and his team. Once we were able to confirm the reports, we immediately swung into action to secure her release and safety. We are cognizant of the common practice, deployed by accused perpetrators of sexual and domestic violence against their survivors. The purpose of this sledgehammer approach is to intimidate and mute the voice of courageous survivors so that they can change their testimony. When survivors have been coerced into changing or withdrawing their testimony, it allows the perpetrator to advertise and affirm the
narrative of “false allegations,” which is central to rape culture. In so doing, they exonerate themselves while tarnishing the reputation of survivors and destroying their self-confidence.

After the   of Ms Babatayo from the residence, STER and partners checked her in a hotel, after which, she was subsequently moved to a safe house for two weeks where she received counselling and mental health support. Her safety was the single most critical priority.

As a result of the real and valid concern for her security, Ms Babatayo requested to be re-housed from her current apartment at the time. STER took the decision to support her wish, with a portion of the funds that had been raised for her welfare and legal case by Whine & Wine, towards the down payment of a new apartment. At all times, the focus of STER & sister NGOs was on removing Ms Babatayo from imminent danger while allowing her time to make an informed decision about her civil case.

In response to an invitation by the Force Criminal Investigation Intelligence Department (FCIID) in Ikoyi, Lagos, Ms Babatayo wrote a statement which documented her account of the incident. Despite this invitation and the consequent statement, we are not aware that the accused – D’banj – has been invited or investigated by the FCIID. And, till date, no arrest has been made in connection with the allegations despite all the available evidence.

While awaiting the outcome of the Police investigation, reports reached us that a Mr Segun Awosanya (@Segalink) had reached out to Ms Babatayo to attend a meeting with the accused at an address which he (Mr Awosanya) had sent to her. We learnt that the meeting was in view of negotiating a private settlement of the criminal case. This meeting was also confirmed by Ms Babatayo’s legal counsel who was scheduled to be in attendance.

STER was also invited to the same meeting, but we declined.

As a social justice organisation and women advocates, out-of-court settlements go against STER’s policy. Such settlements, in our experience, often involve an asymmetry of power between the accused and the victim. More importantly, while private settlements are usual in civil disputes, they are, however, not applicable to criminal cases, particularly where a felony has been alleged to have been committed, only the State has the authority to discontinue a criminal investigation and prosecution. An attempt by any private individual(s) to circumvent the authority of the State in criminal investigations may amount to a conspiracy and attempt to pervert justice.

Section 97 of The Criminal Code of Lagos State is clear and states that:
“(i) Any person who conspires with another to obstruct, prevent, pervert, or defeat the course of justice is guilty of a felony and is liable to imprisonment for seven years.”

In addition, Section 410 states that: “Any person who conspires with another to commit any offence in the State which is not a felony, or to do any act outside the State which if done in the state would be an offence but not a felony, and which is an offence under the Laws in force in the place where it is proposed to be done, is guilty of a misdemeanour and is liable to imprisonment for two years.”

On the 13th of July 2020, Ms Babatayo informed STER that a private non-monetary agreement was reached with D’banj’s team. We, therefore, present this statement as the full account of our stewardship on this matter.
STER would like to use this opportunity to appreciate civil society partners and women advocates who stood resolute in their support for Ms Seyitan Babatayo, in spite of the unwarranted targeted abuse & harassment both online and offline.

STER is also grateful to the Attorney General of Lagos State who met with Ms Babatayo in the course of our intervention. We also acknowledge the commitment of the Governor of Lagos, His Excellency Babajide Sanwoolu towards ensuring a Lagos State with zero tolerance to sexual and gender-based violence. STER appreciates the support of Mrs Akeredolu SAN, who offered her legal counsel and advice on this matter.

The work to eradicate sexual and domestic violence from our society would be impossible without the committed support and collaboration of the police. We, therefore, would also use this opportunity to remind the Nigerian Police, as part of the legal apparatus of Nigeria, to be steadfast in their efforts to ensure justice for all survivors of sexual and gender-based
violence, irrespective of the profile of the accused.

We thank the Nigerian public for continuing to amplify the voices of survivors of Sexual and Gender-based Violence (SGBV) by condemning and denouncing this epidemic that is plaguing our society. All accounts of the expenditure on the One Million and Six Hundred Naira (N1,600,000) raised by well-meaning Nigerians have been accounted for with Whine and Wine NG, and with the donors themselves.

We continue to encourage all survivors of sexual violence in Nigeria to speak their truth, and not be deterred. Your voice is important. We see you, we hear you. You are not alone and we are here to support you.

● Stand to End Rape Initiative (STER)
● The Nigeria Feminist Forum
● Whine and Wine NG
● NoMore234NG
● 9jafeminista
● Alliances for Africa
● Women’s Crisis Centre
● Education as a Vaccine
● Azeenarh Mohammed
● Kiki Mordi
● Chioma Agwuegbo
● Ayodele Olofintuade
● Lesley Agams
● Iheoma Obibi
● Buky Williams

-CityPulseNews Exclusive