Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti
The Ekiti State Government saturday justified its failure to prosecute a former Head of the Department of Criminology, Federal University, Oye Ekiti (FUOYE), Prof. Adewole Atere for allegedly impregnating a 16-year-old student, Miss Precious Azuka.
The state government said the incident occurred more than two years ago before Kayode Fayemi was elected governor, a situation that created obstacle to Atere’s prosecution.
The Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Olawale Fapohunda gave the explanation yesterday in response to THISDAY inquiry demanding to know why the state has refused to act on the allegation brought the professor.
Responding to THISDAY, the attorney-general said the fact that the incident happened before the present administration came on board had been an obstacle to the speedy handling of the case legally.
He explained that the Ministry of Justice “can only act on such issue after the case file had been sent by the police. The Ministry of Justice does not act on newspapers report; neither can we take such to court as evidence.
“Before we take up a case of this nature, the police must investigate it and then send the case file to the Department of Public Prosecution for advice and proper legal actions. I do not think we have received such case file.
“We got over 45 case files in the last one week. I will ask the Director of Public Prosecution because we can only act on the outcome of police’s investigation to know whether the suspect has a case to answer or not.”
Also, the state’s Commissioner of Police, Mr. Asuquo Amba expressed similar view with the attorney-general on why the police command had not been able to prosecute the professor.
Amba said he was deployed to the state on January 1, 2019, noting that he was not the police commissioner in the state when the incident happened.
The police chief, also, observed that his office did not receive any case file that had “to do with the contentious issue for him to act accordingly.
“I think the university must have done its investigation. It is the outcome that will be brought to the police for more investigation and subsequently for prosecutorial action. I do not think the police was involved.
“I am sure if we were involved, we would have done our own side of the case zealously and conscientiously,” the police commissioner explained.
However, the Public Relations Officer of the institution, Mr Geoffrey Bakji told THISDAY that the matter had been laid to rest over two years ago after the university set up a committee that did a thorough job.
Bakji added that the professor knew that the university was averse “to indiscipline and had quickly resigned his appointment from the university. The professor had since resigned and the matter already laid to rest.
“Without prejudice to the professor’s innocence in this matter, the university could have taken more drastic measures. But the victim’s family said they were only interested in her education and nothing more.
“As far as we are concerned, the matter was thoroughly dealt with by our institution. The matter had been laid to rest,” the spokesman explained.
Atere, a professor of criminology at the university, was accused of impregnating a teenage student, Azuka while serving as the Head of the Department of Criminology at the university.
Azuka was in her first semester at the university when she met the don in March 2017. She was 16 years old at the time the incident occurred.
The meeting was followed by a message of love from the professor through one of his subordinates in the department, Dr. Chinedu Abrifor.
PREMIUM TIMES had reported Abrifor simply told Azuka then that she was ‘mature enough’ for Mr Atere.
When she appeared before a fact-finding committee set up by the office of the then acting dean of students’ affairs, E.O Adeyemi, Azuka said: “A few days after Abrifor approached me, he accompanied Atere to my hostel.
“They took me to their house at Aiyegbaju where I spent the night. I was returned to the hostel by 6 a.m.the following day. This practice continued for weeks.”
The development led to disagreement between Azuka and her boyfriend, Kayode Fasanya. Fasanya, who started dating Azuka, his classmate, in January 2017, broke the relationship as soon as he was aware of the professor’s love affair with his girlfriend.
Less than two months into their amorous relationship, Azuka noticed she was not well. Medical test confirmed she was pregnant.
Azuka said: “I opted for abortion instantly but a doctor I saw said he doesn’t do it. So, when I got to the hostel, I took lipton tea and lime which made me to experience serious blood flow. When I didn’t see my menstruation the following months, I didn’t bother. I thought it had cleared.”
But by July, Azuka’s physical appearance had indicated she was pregnant. Her story was also on many lips within and outside the hostel.
She said one of her friends, who was staying off-campus, identified simply as Priscilla, took her to an unnamed laboratory official at Oye Ekiti general hospital, a government-owned health facility.
“The laboratory official introduced me to Dr. Dada who eventually helped me out on Wednesday, July 26,” Azuka said.
Because the pregnancy was already about 21 weeks, documents revealed that dilation and curettage could no longer be conducted, and thus offered to induce Azuka to labour. “I was asked to return to the hospital as soon as the foetus was expelled.”
On the morning of July 27, 2017, Azuka went into labour and expelled the foetus.