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When traditionalists raged in Ondo



When traditionalists raged in Ondo

In any community where there is law and order, impunity can never reign. This aptly justified the action of the traditional worshippers in Ondo, Ondo West Local Government area of the state. They caused a scare recently when they sealed the homes of five persons accused of rape and violating the culture of the town. BABATOPE OKEOWO reports that the action was taken to prevent perversion of justice



It started when two teenage girls were accused of stealing in a community in Ondo West Local Government area of Ondo State. The punishment meted out to the girls was to be raped by five men. They were later forced to engage in act of lesbianism in the public while being videotaped. Not done with the punishment, the men posted the video of the girls while being forced to engage in lesbianism on social media. Enraged by the action of the men, the family of the girls reported the incident to the police. The suspects; Bode Akinsiku, Femi Olabanji, Abiodun Ayodele, Wahab Fadairo and Adebayo Adedayo were later arrested by men of the Area Command of the state.


After the conclusion of the investigation, the police charged the case to the Chief Magistrate Court on a six-count-charge ranging from conspiracy, rape, defamation of character, torture and videotaping naked people. The offences, which according to the prosecutor, Inspector Bernard Olagbayi, were contrary to sections 516, 351, 360, 367, 359 and 375 of the criminal code Cap 37 Vol. 1 laws of Ondo State of Nigeria, 2006.


According to the prosecutor, the accused persons were alleged to have on May 12, at Kogbona Street in Ondo town, tortured and unlawfully had canal knowledge of the two teenage girls and taken their video coverage after stripping them naked. They were also alleged to have sent the same video on Facebook, whatsapp pages and other social media for the purpose of exposing them to hatred, a move which the prosecutor claimed to have worthlessly ridiculed the teenagers in the society.


The accused persons were alleged to have forcefully compelled the two girls to finger each other virginal after stripping them naked, a move which he claimed to have been against the order of nature. The Prosecutor told the court his intention to prosecute the matter by inviting four witnesses to the court, including the victims, who he said were not presently in court due to security threats received by them from the families of the accused persons. He urged the court to grant him short adjournment, so that he would be able to arrange all his witnesses.


The accused persons after listening to the charges entered a ‘not guilty’ plea. In their separate bail applications, counsel to the accused persons, Mr. Adesanmi Olarewaju, O.A Akinbinu and A.J Akindele urged the court to grant their clients bail in liberal terms and promised that if granted bail, they would not jump bail. They claimed that in as much the complainants were not in court, the accused persons were still presumed innocent of all the allegations levied against them.


However, a human right lawyer, Mills Orlu, opposed the bail applications made by the counsel for the accused persons and explained that the absence of the victims in the court was as a result of the security threats received from the members of the families of the accused persons.


He urged the court to reject the bail applications and remand the accused persons in prison custody. He said this would enable him to arrange all the witnesses and prosecute the case properly.


The Chief Magistrate, Mrs. B.F Ajibade, denied the bail applications and ordered that the accused persons be remanded in prison till June 21. The accused were subsequently sent to Segede Prison custody until the hearing of the charges against them on the adjourned date.


Consequently, as the date for the hearing of the case draws nearer, traditional worshippers of the town sealed off homes of the five-suspected rapists. The traditional worshippers also embarked on the procession to protest what they called taboo in the community.


Sources within the town said the traditionalists decided to embark on the rites following a rumour that unknown persons had kidnapped the two teenagers and the suspects would soon be set free. They said the spiritual appeasement was also to pray against those who were allegedly making all efforts and mounting pressure on the police in order to frustrate the case at the court.


In addition, it was learnt that the assemblage of the traditionalists came on the heel of recent happenings in the town, occasioned by the sudden increase in the number of rape cases and other social vices that occurred repeatedly in quick succession and had been a source of concern to inhabitants of the town.


A source said: “You see, if you watch the video, it is a taboo and abomination not only in Ondo town, but in the Yoruba race. We have been hearing several rumour concerning the matter; we don’t want a repeat of such an ungodly act in our land.”


The traditionalists, including members of the Natural Traditional Medicine Practitioners, herbalists, Orunmila, Sango, Obaluaye worshippers, Ogun devotees, members of the Reformed Ogboni Confraternity and masquerades were dressed in their different attires and armed with different charms and sang songs in Ondo dialect during the procession.


Shortly before the commencement of the seal-off of the houses, the traditionalists converged on a traditional spot at Sora Street in the town where they offered supplications and later moved in a procession to the streets where the alleged rape took place.


They chased out the residents of the houses, used palm fronds to round the houses and chanted incantations before they locked the doors and windows and used some wooden materials to demarcate the houses.


One of the traditional chiefs in Ondo community commended the Osemawe -in-Council for approving the traditional rites and the sealing off, of the suspects’ houses. He said that the video tape apart from going viral on the Internet had made the Osemawe-in-council to receive several calls.

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