Over the years, several notable personalities in Nigeria have been embroiled in sexual scandals, the latest being the popular Yoruba actor Baba Ijesha. As many continue to advocate stern punishment for the Nollywood star, it is important to take a trip down memory lane to revisit some of the other cases.
Sexual harassment/assault cases involving high-profile individuals are not peculiar to Nigeria; it is something that almost every nation on earth has experienced. When such cases don't always end with justice being meted out, then what is to stop the heinous act from happening over and over again?
The list below consists of individuals ranging from filmmakers to actors, singers, and even a clergyman. What all of the cases (except one) have in common is that they never made it to court.
June 2020 seemed to be the month where different alleged victims of sexual assault chose to reveal themselves. The case of singer D'banj seemed to open an avalanche of scandals as others follow suit.
Some of the accusers had to retreat as the cases ended in a manner that was unfulfilling to them. This is not to infer that they were all right (or wrong) but to point out that for them, there was no form of closure.
Below are some of them in no particular order:
1. Lancelot Imasuen (Nollywood Filmmaker)
In June 2020, veteran filmmaker Lancelot Imasuen was called out by actress Sylvia Oluchi who revealed that he groped her during a movie shoot in 2008.
Speaking via a popular industry group chat called 'Filmic', Oluchi accused Imasuen of soft-pedaling the issue of sexual assault in the movie industry.
She disclosed that when they were filming Bent Arrows in Abuja in 2008, she was told by the filmmaker to come to his hotel room after the shoot at night.
Oluchi said she rejected his advances and Imasuen pinned her to the bed and shoved his tongue down her mouth while squeezing her boobs.
According to her, her tears stopped the filmmaker from going all the way.
Speaking further, the actress told Pulse that her experience was not an isolated incident as a good number of other females had been harassed by Imasuen.
When the news outlet reached out to the filmmaker, he never denied or confirmed the allegation, but said he could not talk about it at the time as key industry players had weighed in on the 'private matter'.
Imasuen said, "It is still a private matter so I am not in a position to make a statement. The group chat where the accusation was made is a private one and the group's admins have set up a committee to investigate the allegation.
"So, while I am surprised as anybody else - it is from 13 years ago, I have been advised to be quiet. It is an industry thing for now and cannot be made public."
2. D'banj (Singer)
Award-winning music artist D'banj became a trending topic in June last year when a woman named Seyitan Babatayo claimed he raped her.
Seyitan's friend, Benjamin Ese, had alleged on Twitter that she was raped by the Fall in Love crooner in 2018 at a hotel in Lagos and she had said it was true.
Giving details of what transpired, Seyitan shared that D'banj gained access into her hotel room at past midnight and "violated and raped" her.
In an unexpected turn of events, the accuser had been arrested by the police and she said she spent 48 hours in custody without being charged with a single crime.
Seyitan had revealed the timeline of events in the following words:
"30 December 2018: D'banj gained access into my hotel room at past midnight while I was asleep. He violated and raped me.
3 June 2020: Following an online post by D'banj saying no to rape, I called him out on his hypocrisy, by giving a detailed account of how he raped me in 2018.
5 June 2020: I publicly shared a document from my lawyer regarding the situation.
6 June 2020: I visited a police station to make a formal report but was not attended to.
15 June 2020: D'banj through his legal representative published a document in response to my document demanding N100m in damages.
16 June 2020: Four armed policemen stormed my apartment and arrested me without a warrant. They seized my phones and other personal effects and detained me overnight.
16 June 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.
17 June 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 at a location of D'banj's team's choosing, which was not made known to the public.18 June 2020: I was isolated from my family, coerced, pressured and intimidated in person by D'banj and his team to retract all statements and to announce that my testimony was a publicity stunt..."
D'banj denied the accusation, saying he was innocent until proven guilty, and urged people to "stop social media trial".
On July 28, 2020, it was disclosed that the case had been dropped by the police and would be settled outside of court.
3. Victor Okpala (Film Director)
June 2020 seemed to be the month many sexual assault victims chose to cry out as yet another accuser, actress Oshevire Divine leveled accusations at director Victor Okpala.
In an Instagram post, the upcoming Nollywood star posted screenshots of a conversation with the filmmaker who wanted her to offer him her body in exchange for film roles.
Divine said, "I was going to keep quiet about this..but why should I? This isn’t a normal thing and shouldn’t be considered as a normal act at all.
"This is a chat between me and a Nollywood movie producer-director. I have to voice out on this matter..this is wrecking the image of Nollywood. Check my last slide to see."
"The monologue challenge I wanted to participate in he asked to subscribe to his channel, watch one of his movies then send a proof.
"So I did according to the guidelines he posted and sent the proof...he replied. He literally told me that talent is not enough and indirectly said that I’d have to sacrifice my body for me to make it into Nollywood.
I don’t know how many other girls he must have deceived like this but this isn’t fair and we shouldn’t keep quiet about this. This happened yesterday, this needs to stop".
Responding to the development, another upcoming actor, Emeka Nwagbaraocha, took to his Twitter account to share a thread of another victim who said the director assaulted her when she was 17.
Additionally, actress Lala Akindoju claimed via her Instagram page that the director raped an actress who she intentionally refused to name.
Reacting to the allegations, Okpala petitioned the Nigeria Police Force and threatened to sue Akindoju for N100 million as damages.
The case subsequently fizzled out.
4. Peruzzi (Singer)
On June 3, 2020, an alleged sexual assault victim identified simply as Princess called out popular singer Peruzzi for forcefully having sex with her eight years prior.
Princess stated that her decision to speak after eight years was hinged on the boldness of his other accuser, Daffy Blanco, and other alleged victims.
UK-based singer Blanco had spoken in an Instagram post on January 29, 2020, about how Peruzzi had defrauded her of N15 million and tried to have his way with her.
In her tweet, Princess wrote: "For so long I've kept this to myself but I have decided to speak out due to the boldness of Daffy Blanco & other rape victims. Let's expose these rapists for who they are, they have no right to take advantage of us. #SayNoToRape #SayNoToRapist #SurvivingPeruzzi.
"So one time in 2012, I can't really remember the date and the month. But I accompanied a friend "Aisha" to 1004. And as at then, I think she had a thing with Peruzzi, I accompanied her there, we spent a night that day and I happened to stay in the same room with Aisha and Peruzzi.
In the night, he started touching me without my consent, I tried to tell him that that's wrong and besides he has a girlfriend lying in between. So I left the room and went to sleep in the mini parlour upstairs, I had to leave the room because I wasn't comfortable anymore.
I tried to tapping my friend to wake up so she'd understand what was going on but she was too fast asleep. So then I went to the parlour, and he came out and I had to tell him to leave if not I was going to create a scene.
"He obliged and went back to the room and for some time he didn't come out again. I left the parlour upstairs and went downstairs to the main parlour so I could sleep on the chair, I couldn't sleep in the other rooms cos it was occupied with his other friends he had over.
"When I was already fast asleep, thinking he was just making advances and all, me saying "NO" maybe he got the message. Being deep asleep and I felt someone trying to unbuckle my pants and then I woke up.
"And I'm like "YOU CAN'T DO THAT IT'S WRONG" that is when we started struggling and he was "PRESSING ON MY NECK" Telling me I should chill and likes me, all this kind of shit and I'm like Yo! "I'M NOT INTERESTED.
"At that point, struggling was very stressful, you know he tore my PANT and then he did what he did, He raped me.
"I was too naive to know that I was meant to go for test, I was too scared of going to the police because as at then my parents didn't know I was in Lagos so I was scared to come out with the news and the whole story of him raping me.
I've kept this inside me for over 8 years now and I finally feel a bit of relief speaking out. I hope my story would encourage more suppressed rape victims to speaker out, no matter the situation you find yourself no one has any right to rape you!"
Peruzzi refuted the rape accusation, saying: "I have never and will never rape or sexually assault anybody. The claim is false and has also been refuted by a witness who was present at the time of the allegation.”
He also released an official statement which can be viewed below.
5. Biodun Fatoyinbo (Cleric)
Busola Dakolo, the wife of famous singer Timi Dakolo, spoke about surviving being raped by Biodun Fatoyinbo, the founder of The Commonwealth of Zion Assembly (COZA).
Busola made the disclosure in June 2019 in a YouTube interview with Chude Jideonwo, explaining how she was raped twice when she was a member of the church by the pastor.
According to her, Fatoyinbo raped her for the first time in her parents' home and a second time in a secluded road path. Both incidents took place before she turned 18 and she lost her virginity to the clergyman.
Part of what she had said was: "Fatoyinbo showed up at our house unannounced. It was a Monday morning early and I was still in my nightgown. My mother had traveled with my sisters and were absent at service the previous Sunday.
“He didn’t say a word, forced me onto a chair, speaking only to command me to do as he said. It took me a while to come to terms with what was about to happen, and it was why I didn’t struggle or make a fuss when he pulled down my underwear and raped me.”
In response to Busola's allegation, Fatoyinbo stepped down from his church duties, saying he was taking a" leave of absence from the pulpit."
Fatoyinbo further released a statement on his Instagram page, proclaiming his innocence with a caption that read: "I have NEVER RAPED before, not even as an unbeliever!"
Part of the statement read: "I am aware that there has been a recent media publication on YouTube by YNaija operated and owned by RED Media Group which shows an interview by Chude Jideonwo with Busola Dakolo.
“Prior to now, we had adhered to our policy of ignoring rumours from social media accounts as we knew that several statements had been made to extort the church of money and myself through blackmail, harassment, and intimidation.
"We have refused time and again to accede to their request, which has infuriated them over time, because of this they have gotten more aggressive.
"Unlike previous statements where innuendos were used and there was no direct mention of myself or the Church, the recent video released on YouTube has now made direct criminal allegations against me in the interview granted by Busola Dakolo which are fallacious, non-existent, and which are all denied in every measure.
"As an individual and as a Church, we love and support people and we would never condone any form of abuse, harassment, or intimidation of anyone. I have never in my life raped anybody, even as an unbeliever and I’m absolutely innocent of this."
The case was taken to a Federal High Court in Abuja and in November 2019, the suit was dismissed, with Busola given a fine of N1 million for "wasting the court's time."
6. Brymo (Singer)
In May 2020, singer Brymo made headlines for the wrong reason when he was accused by a social media user identified as @Biligquis of sexually assaulting her.
The alleged victim said she was a fan of the music artist and had paid him a visit in her house, accompanied by her friend. According to her, the singer had started touching her friend inappropriately and she had to intervene.
Brymo had led her inside to talk about her objection and she said he revealed that he couldn't just let them go as he was already horny.
The victim said she was scared and had to give in to Brymo's demand.
This came directly from brymo’ victim and when UcheNelo called him out, y’all called her bitter pic.twitter.com/dLhi8M2Y7v— Biliquis (@Biliquis_X) April 29, 2020
Brymo didn't give a direct response to the allegation but in an interview session recalled how he used to be very direct with women, offending them in the process.
He called it "a f*cking wild time" and said it was 16 months of 'Extreme hedonism".
7. Timaya (Singer)
The last case on the list is the oldest, dating back to July 2015. An unidentified US-based lady claimed Timaya raped her via an Instagram post.
The woman shared chats between her and someone else she claimed was the Dem Mama crooner, adding voice recordings from their phone conversations.
The voice heard in the recordings was confirmed to be that of Timaya's but at no point did he own up to raping her. He was only heard to be asking for forgiveness from her.
Part of the lady's message read, "SO THAT I MAKE IT CLEAR YES I AM A VICTIM OF SEXUAL ASSAULT, BUT I HAVE A HEART. AND THE ONLY REASON TIMAYA WAS ABLE TO LEAVE ATLANTA IS BECAUSE OF THOSE TWO INNOCENT KIDS HE HAS! SO THAT WE ARE FUCKING CLEAR!”
The singer's manager responded by threatening the lady, accusing her of recording Timaya's voice illegally. The singer defended himself, saying they had consensual sex and that the lady was attempting to blackmail him.
Chatting with popular blogger Linda Ikeji, Timaya said he hooked up with his accuser in a hotel in Atlanta and that he neither raped her nor forced her to have sex with him.
Linda Ikeji wrote: "So I have reached out to Timaya to hear his side of the story and he denies rape. Speaking exclusively with LIB, Timaya said it was consensual sex and the girl is now blackmailing him. Timaya admitted that he hooked up with the girl (pictured above) in his Atlanta hotel, but says she agreed to the sex.
"He said the girl, who he has been talking to for about a year, contacted him when she found out he was in the US for his tour and bugged him to see him. He told her where he was and she came to see him. He said from the minute she entered the room, she started filming him.
"He said after they finished having sex, the girl continued filming him and began asking him questions. He said she asked him if he enjoyed the sex and he said yes, then she asked him if she could follow him to his show and he said no that he's working...but that she could come later and he would tell his people to let her in. She then told him that they didn't use a condom, what if she gets pregnant? Timaya said he told her that he didn't want another baby, that he just got a baby.
"Timaya said she continued asking him questions until he became very suspicious and dragged her phone from her. That was when he realized that the girl had been filming him the whole time. He said he deleted the photos/video recordings and asked her what her intentions/plans were? He gave her back her phone and then realized that for iPhones, you have to delete twice before it will be completely wiped off. He then asked her for the phone and she refused to give it to him so he called hotel security.
"The hotel security came to the room and asked the lady why she was filming Timaya and she said it was nothing serious, just for fun. Timaya asked the hotel security to remove the girl from his room but only after the lady has deleted the video recordings. The hotel security advised Timaya to let the girl go, that if she calls the police and tells them he's holding her hostage, it's a crime in the US. That was how he let her go. Timaya said at no point did she tell security that she had been raped when he called security on her.
"And after she left, she began calling to threaten him, saying she would mess him up and ruin his career for taking things far and calling security on her.
"He said she called him again demanding for money to take herself to the hospital. He said he left money by the reception for her and she came to collect it. Then she called again to harass him. When she continued harassing and threatening him, he began begging her because she'd already called someone in Nigeria that he was close to accusing him of rape. She told the dude that for her to keep quiet, Timaya has to pay her $50,000 or she will publish their recordings. He said he was begging her to stop the blackmail and not because of any rape.
"He said when the girl refused to stop, he changed his US number, blocked her on Whatsapp, and Instagram so she could no longer reach him for bargain and that was when she created the account on Instagram to carry out her threat"
The difference between all the aforementioned cases and that of Baba Ijesha is that the latter was captured on video sexually harassing the underage girl.
Amid the calls for harsh punishment on the actor, there are those who have also urged Princess to be merciful. Should the call for leniency be heeded? And more importantly, will it serve as a deterrent to others or simply encourage them to continue?
Only time will tell.