The ‘Trial’ of D’banj


Music icon, Oladapo Oyebanjo, aka D’banj is facing the biggest battle of his life, following allegation of rape against him by Miss Seyitan Babatayo, who claimed the incident took place in 2018. The Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu has ordered a probe of the accusation. Can D’Banj wiggle out of this? Ferdinand Ekechukwu reports

Music superstar, D’banj, is facing intense scrutiny amid huge social media backlash over the rape allegation that threatens to leave his legacy in tatters as the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, has ordered a probe into the claims against the hip pop artiste. The order was contained in a letter signed by the Principal Staff Officer to the IG, DCP Idowu Owohunwa.

Addressed to the Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Force Criminal Investigation Department, Area 10, Garki, Abuja, the IG’s letter was in response to a petition written to the IG by Mr. Tommy Ojoge-Daniel, a lawyer to Miss Seyitan Babatayo, who accused D’Banj of raping her in 2018. The letter read in part, “I forward herewith copy of letter dated June 5, 2020 received from Ojoge, Omileye and Partners on the above underlined subject. I am to respectfully convey the directive of the Inspector-General of Police that you treat. Accept the assurances of my esteemed regards please.”

About a fortnight ago, a Nigerian model scout and Seyitan’s friend, Benjamin Ese, in a Twitter thread had told the story of how the music star, also known as the Kokomaster, allegedly raped Seyitan on December 31, 2018, at Glee Hotel in Victoria Island, Lagos.

Recounting the incident, Ese said it happened at an all-white party where D’Banj allegedly offered her friend some money to be with her for the night which she rejected until he surprisingly showed up in Seyitan’s hotel room around midnight and allegedly raped her.

The rape experience, Ese said had caused Seyitan some trauma. Weeks after Ese’s tweets, Seyitan came out publicly to present herself as the lady who was allegedly raped by D’Banj in December 2018.

According to Seyitan, D’banj gained entrance to her room while she was asleep at the hotel and raped her after she had turned him down at a party earlier. “So I slept off within 5/6am and pls note (I’m a naked sleeper) and woke up and found Dbanj in my room already and I asked him what he was doing in my room he didn’t say a word and asked if I was a baby and started fingering me,” part of her tweets said. “I went ahead to threaten him that I was going to shout. He said if I shout I’ll leave the hotel naked. Dbanj raped me.”

But D’banj chose to remain silent over the allegations. However on June 17, D’banj wrote that he was revisiting the allegation a week after his 40th birthday celebration when he put up an Instagram post to “address the recent false allegations and lies from the pit of hell”. The musician denied the allegations leveled against him and asked his accuser to make a public apology and also pay him the sum of N100 million in damages.

In a pre-litigation letter signed by his lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), the musician asked his accuser to make a payment of N100 million within 48 hours or face legal action. In the letter, which was addressed to Miss Babatayo’s lawyer, Ojoge, Omileye and Partners, dated June 15, 2020, D’Banj also demanded that an apology be published in at least four national dailies.

w The letter read in part, “We have been instructed to demand and we so hereby demand from you the following: That your client makes an outright apology and a total retraction of each and every false allegation made against and concerning our client.
“The said apology and retraction shall be published in four national dailies with wide circulation in Nigeria as well as on social media platforms and handles being used by your client and her hirelings. That your client makes a compensatory deposit of the sum of N100 million only through this Chambers in favour of our client to assuage his battered image.”

In the letter, D’banj stated that his accuser was nothing but a gold digger who was on a mission to destroy the reputation he had built for nearly two decades in the music industry. He said he was married when the purported rape took place, adding that the allegation was an insult to his wife.

On Tuesday, however, some policemen allegedly acting on the instruction of the Oliver Twist crooner detained Seyitan for over 24 hours and intimidated her, making her delete all chats, social media posts and other vital information from her phone, to the extent that she even denied being arrested.

The incident has since sparked widespread criticism with D’Banj trending on Twitter the last couple of days. Feminists and several rights groups have called on the police to ensure that justice is served regardless of the musician’s status.

The rape allegation took a different turn with an online petition calling on the United Nations to strip D’banj of his appointment as United Nations Ambassador for Peace. It has garnered almost 15,000 signatures. They also called the attention of brands such as Heritage Bank Africa, One Africa, CSA Global, and other establishments associated with D’Banj to end their commercial relationship with him and stand in support of victims of sexual violence.

The petition which was started by one E. Pooola on Change.Org had hit 14, 310 as of 11.10 am on Friday. It read in part: “We call on the United Nations and United Nations Women Africa organisations to remove Nigerian artiste Mr. Dapo Oyebanjo as a youth ambassador and distance themselves from his actions following the sponsored kidnap of Seyitan who accused D’Banj of rape and sexual assault which happened in 2018.

“Women in Nigeria are increasingly at risk of sexual violence and the United Nations and United Nations Women Africa as an entity committed to the empowerment of women should not be seen to associating with alleged rapists, abusers, and kidnappers. We ask the United Nations and United Nations Women Africa to support and lend their influence in helping Seyitan get justice for the abuse she endured in 2018 and the harassment and bullying in the past weeks.”