The gruesome rape and murder of Miss Uwa Omozuwa in Benin, has brewed a cataclysmic chain of unfolding rape allegations, with rape victims coming out to reveal their experiences in a society bedeviled by the rape culture. One of these series of unfolding rape allegations is the accusation of Seyitan Babatunde against the popular Nigerian pop singer Oladapo Oyebanjo (DBanj).
On 17th of June, a scout model named Benjamin Ese took to her twitter handle and wrote a thread narrating how her friend was raped in Glee hotel by the popular singer on 31st December 2018. The storm began to brew when the thread gathered thousands of reactions and her friend came out on Social media to reveal herself as the victim of the rape incident. Few hours after the revelation, she was called for interrogation and detained by the police force. While in detention, a series of her tweets were deleted and her handle made a series of tweet promising to take a break, with tweets praising her alleged rapist, DBanj. This looked fishy and activists came forth criticizing the drama amidst rumors of possible intimidation and harassment.
The Lagos state police command issued a public statement denying any knowledge of her arrest. The embattled singer also took to his Instagram page to denounce the allegations by describing it as “a lie from the pit of hell”. Few hours later, his lawyers issued a public statement denying all the allegations and demanded a 100-million Naira compensation for the accusation and a public apology within 48 hours. Else, they threatened a law suit for defamation.
As the controversy drew media attention, a screenshot of a post made on Instagram on 31st December 2018 by Glee hotel surfaced. This showed a photo of the singer and the hotel staff with a caption thanking the singer for visiting the hotel. The post was later deleted by the hotel. The Oliver Twist crooner also took to his Instagram page and deleted the post he made denouncing the attack, further arousing public suspicion of a possible attempt to cover up and delete trails of evidence, as the victim garners more public sympathy. Some Nigerian celebrities like MI, Rita Dominic, Timi Dakolo and Don Jazzy the erstwhile producer of Dbanj took to their social media pages to condemn the incident. The IGP also lend his voice and weighed in by ordering a probe into the allegations. At the time of this writing 15,000 people have signed a petition to the UN demanding a termination of DBanj’s endorsement as the UN peace ambassador and the UN has promised to look into the petition on Monday.
As the storm brews and the story keep unfolding gradually, many people have taken sides with the parties involved in the scandal. With some feminist and activists clamoring for justice.
It is unfortunate, the fabric of Nigerian society is interwoven with the tendrils of sexual assault and gender based violence which has sparked both local and international outrage over the years We’re inundated with a constant influx of such predatory behavior in public sphere, which has raised concern for a dismantling of such a system and a paradigm shift in the gamut of the whole society on our norms and overall social behavior which is replete with social predatory behavior.
Apparently the obscurity of the whole issue makes it difficult for one to take a particular stand as we’ve seen series of false accusations in the past and cases that were thrown out of the court for lack of merit. This particular case and the brutal sadistic event of rape have led many social critics into committing a logical fallacy known as argumentum ad misericordiam (argument from feelings) without pragmatically x-raying the murkiness of such a case.
On the other hands many hailers of the singer have degenerated into appeal to ignorance by asserting that if an allegation cannot be proven then it is false failing to understand that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. The complications of this case have revealed ostensibly the many hurdles rape victims go through and why most time some of them keep mute for fear of intimidation and stereotype.
Rape should be condemned in its entirety. We must always join the effort to fight such an aberration bedeviling our county, but in this case sometimes it is more important to deploy wisdom and not to quickly make judgment.
In all, we await the decision and action of the warring parties. DBanj may be innocent. Perhaps he is being haunted by the ghosts of his past. But definitely there is a bridge of contract somewhere and one of the parties is surely guilty. But we must take a middle ground approach while we await more evidence to unfold, as we fight to dismantle the evil culture of sexual predation.
Written by Sunday Abah