Mr Abudu-Abiodun, right and Miss Barakat
By Ayo Kehinde
Mr Abiodun Abudu-Balogun, the Commissioner for Environment in Ogun state has been suspended from office over allegations of sexual harassment of a 16-year old Barakat Mayowa Melojuekun.
Secretary to the State Government, Tokunbo Talabi, said in statement on Sunday that the suspension of the Commissioner was to enable him cooperate fully with the independent investigation being carried out by the Police.
Mr Abiodun has denied the allegation, claiming he merely assisted the underaged girl to get a job. But Barakat insisted on her allegation in a viral video she posted on her ordeal.
According to the state government; “Whilst taking cognizance of the principle of a suspect being presumed innocent until proven guilty and the public statement issued by Hon. Abudu-Balogun denying the allegation, as a government with zero tolerance for gender-based violence and indeed any criminality, the suspension is a further demonstration of the commitment of Prince Dapo Abiodun Administration to fairness, equity, justice and the rule of law, no matter who is involved”, the statement added.
The government assures the public that it will do everything to ensure that justice is served in the case.
Abiodun, the suspended Commissioner has been directed to hand over to the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Environment.
In his denial, Mr Abiodun , said In a press statement, “My attention has been drawn to a purported video circulating on social media of a girl alleging that I attempted to sexually harass her. Let it be noted that in my entire life and political career, I have assisted many youths to secure jobs. Some are working with me in my different businesses.
“On this said day, the girl was brought to my house by one of my loyalists who is her uncle, to assist her get a job as a computer operator at the ICT Centre I facilitated while I was serving as a member of House of Representatives years back. The centre has been moribund but I am about to rehabilitate it in order to empower more youths in our local government.
“I met her at my sitting room for few minutes where many of my loyalists, who came to visit me for the New Year, were. I chatted with the lady for few minutes and as part of my usual gesture, I gave her some amount of money for her transportation.
“A day after, I was informed by some people that I have been alleged to have attempted to sexually harass the girl and I should invite the family for a meeting so as to settle the matter amicably.”
“Let me state emphatically that I never attempted to sexually harass anyone. I therefore plead with my fans and loyalists to be calm and not engage anyone on the said matter as it is been handled by the police and my legal team.”
Narrating her ordeal, Barakat Melojuekun, who is a pupil of Victory Model College in the Ogun-Waterside Local Government Area accused Abiodun od sexual harassment in his house in a viral video she posted on Facebook on Saturday.
In the video, she implicated other culprits of her ordeal as her uncle and a teacher, who both lured her to Abdidun’s house
Barakat said, “On December 29, 2020, I was on my way to the NIMC (National Identity Management Commission) office to do my NIN. I came across this man called Honourable Abiodun Abudu-Balogun, who is the current Commissioner for Environment, at Ibiade Motocycles Park. I was discussing with my friend and he called me saying he knew me somewhere, and I said I did not know him.
“When I wanted to leave the scene, he sent a guy named Seun from the park to collect my phone number. I told the guy to tell the honourable to collect my phone number from Mr Lasisi Saheed, aka Mayor, who is an elder brother to my father.
“Mr Austin, a teacher at Ilusin Grammar School, started disturbing my friend to release my number, and my friend released my (phone) number to them. Mr Austin then called me and asked where I was. I told him that I was at the NIMC office to register my NIN. He said I should come and meet him at Ibiade Park.”
She failed to make the appointment because she had to go home to eat after staying at the NIMC office all throughout the day.
But on New Year’s eve, her enemies pressed their chances.
“ On December 31, 2020, Mr Lasisi Mayor went to my grandparents and told them that someone needed a computer operator. He asked if I could operate a computer and I said yes. He said I should go and change my clothes, that I was going to meet someone who needed a computer operator.
“On getting to Honourable Abudu’s house at Ita Otu, he said I should sit down inside the car and that I must not get down. Then a lady, named Mariam Eniola from Ita Otu, came to take me to one living room. Then Mr Austin entered and asked why I did not pick my phone the day before. I answered that I was not with my phone. He then took me to a room inside the honorable’s house.”
“He asked for the name of my school and how much I paid as school fees. I told him that it is N30,000. He asked for the person paying my school fees and I told him that it is my dad. He asked if I planned to start a business and I said no, that I wanted to go to a higher institution first. He asked me how much I would need and I said any amount. He said I should state an amount, I said any amount.
“He moved closer to me and he touched my breasts. I moved away that he should not touch my breasts. He asked if I wouldn’t cooperate. I asked him why would I cooperate. Then he started pressing my breasts and my body; I was struggling to free myself from him. Then he started reciting some incantation and wanted to place his hands on my head. I moved my head and said he should not touch my head. He wanted to force me inside the bathroom; then I started shouting.
“Because people were around his compound and he did not want them to know what was happening, he left me. He gave me N2,000 for transport and asked me to leave. I rejected the money. He said if I didn’t accept the money, he wouldn’t let go of me. So I collected the money and he opened the door. He then told Mr Austin to take me to our house. This has never happened to me in my life.”