Seyitan Babatayo, the woman who accused Nigerian singer, Oladapo Oyebanjo, popularly known as D’banj, of raping her, has recounted her ordeal while in police custody for two days.
Ms Babatayo narrated how she was arrested on June 16, almost two weeks after going public with her story.
This information was contained in a statement issued by Stand To End Rape (STER) Initiative and signed by her but made available to newsmen in Abuja.
She also revealed that she made a formal criminal complaint of rape at the Gender Desk of the Nigeria Police Force, Lagos Police Command Headquarters, Ikeja Lagos on Monday.
Ms Babatayo said she filed the complaint on Monday after trying unsuccessfully in the past to give a detailed account of her experience at Bar Beach Police Station, Victoria Island, on June 6.
She said the attempt was thwarted by an officer of the law at the said police station.
She also said she is still dealing with the effects of the rape, “the trauma of recounting that multiple times this week, and the indignity of being held against my will for two days.”
D’banj has denied raping Ms Babatayo and demanded she pays him for false accusation.
Her lawyers, Ojoge, Omileye, and Partners, had confirmed her arrest in an interview with this newspaper in Lagos last week Tuesday. They also revealed how she was allegedly forced to retract her statements and delete her tweets.
Narrating the circumstances that led to her arrest, she said, “I was arrested by four armed police officers, who, under the pretence as a delivery agent, gained entry into my home. I was then taken to IGP IRT office in Harold Shodipo, Ikeja, and detained in a cell like a criminal. My mum was not arrested, contrary to widespread speculations. My mum remained supportive and engaged all her efforts like any good mother, alongside various other interventions to secure my release.
“In that cell, I had the right to remain silent, limited access to a lawyer, yet still oblivious to the crime I was being detained for. I spent almost 48 hours at the police station, without being charged for a single crime. When I requested to know the reason for the detention, the police refused to answer, but they continued to treat me like a criminal.”
Maintaining that her decision to speak out from the beginning was never for financial gain, she said, “I was violated by D’banj, that unwarranted and violent experience has never left me, it has stayed with me for a very long time, I demanded an apology then, and still demand it now!
“I finally gathered the strength to demand it in a louder tone! On June 7, I approached a law firm in Abuja who agreed to represent me. With the loving support of my family, we began on the road to justice. I was locked up in a cell with criminals who had broken the law. I had never stolen or committed a crime in my life, yet there I was with others who had broken the law. What was my offence?”
Due to what she described as the distortion of facts in the media, in her statement, Ms Babatyo clarified the timeline of events for the records as follows:
“December 30, 2018: D’banj gained access into my hotel room at past midnight while I was asleep. He violated and raped me.
“June 3, 2020: Following an online post by D’banj about saying no to rape, I called him out on his hypocrisy, by giving a detailed account of how he raped me in 2018.
“5th June 2020: I publicly shared a document from my lawyer regarding the situation.
“June 5, 2020: I visited the police station to make a formal report, but was not attended to.
“June 15, 2020: D’banj through his legal representative published a document in response to my lawyer’s document, demanding N100m in damages.
“June 16, 2020: Four (4) armed policemen stormed my apartment, and arrested me without a warrant. They seized my phones, other personal effects and detained me in the police cell overnight at IGP – IRT Office at Harold Shodipo, Ikeja.
“June 16, 2020: A friend reached out to a journalist who had been in contact with me earlier to raise the alarm that neither they nor my lawyers could reach me. My mum was also contacted to inform her of the ongoing situation.
“June 17, 2020: With various efforts, I was released from custody after being made to sign a gag order by the police and D’banj’s team, and could only post on social media what had been approved by D’banj’s team. I spent the night in a location of Dbanj’s team’s choosing, which was not made known to the public.
“June 18, 2020: I was isolated from my family, coerced, pressured and intimidated in person by Dbanj and his team to retract all statements and to announce that my testimony was a publicity stunt. Thanks to my friend, thanks to the Executive Director of Stand To End Rape Initiative (STER), and other activists who swung into action, and tracked me to the location where I was being held by D’banj and his team, using satellite mapping, I was immediately removed from the environment and taken to a safe place where I was provided with immediate support.
“June 18, 2020, D’banj through his team has continued to harass me with increscent calls and boasting that he (D’banj) can buy off anyone within the justice system in Lagos.”
On Friday, a twitter user identified as @wineandwhineng, said Nigerians are donating funds to be remitted to the account of a non-profit focused on sexual and gender-based violence, Stand To End Rape Initiative.
The tweet read, “Hi everyone. Together, today, we raised N1,640,000 for the legal fund, all of which have been properly remitted to and accounted for with @StandtoEndRape.
“This will help us kick-start the defence process and also help Seyitan herself. Thank you to everyone who lent their voice.”
Ms Babatayo confirmed that the fundraiser coordinated by the Wine and Whine team raised about N1.6 million to contribute to her legal defence and support her ongoing needs.
“These funds have so far been handed over to Stand To End Rape Initiative (STER), who have and still continue to provide therapy and mental healthcare for me, whilst also ensuring my physical safety to ensure neither D’banj, nor the police can continue to harass or intimidate me,” she said.
However, Ms Babatayo’s legal representative, Ojoge, Omileye, and Partners, denied knowledge of funds being raised for their client’s legal fees on social media.
The lawyers told this newspaper that they had nothing to do with a Twitter post calling on Nigerians to donate money for the settlement of Ms Babatayo’s legal fees. According to them, they took up the case pro bono.
The Lagos police spokesman, Bala Elkana, told this newspaper on Tuesday that he was unaware of the development.
“I’ll need some time to find out, what I’m aware of is that I’ve seen someone filed a complaint in Abuja. The first case was done by a unit of the headquarters, not by us. So I was not surprised that the second one will be done by headquarters too.
“But I’m not aware they have come to our gender unit, I’ll find out. The Gender unit does not receive complaints directly, the Gender unit is under the command, so if there is a complaint, it has to go through the office of the Commissioner of Police,” he noted.
Meanwhile, D’banj’s camp is yet to react to the development as at press time.
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