‘Nigeria’s #MeToo moment’ May Have Turned Against The Accuser
Nigeria's #MeToo moment may have turned against the accuser involved in the COZA rape scandal as Busola Dakolo is currently under police investigation.
It turns out Nigeria's #MeToo moment may have undergone an about face.
Busola Dakolo was expecting the police. Three weeks earlier she had filed a complaint against flamboyant pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo, accusing him of rape. But the car that tailed her as she drove to her house, had no police markings. She also saw a white minibus parked outside her house, also with no police markings. According to Dakolo, a man appeared and told her to get out of the car. He ordered her to get into the bus and speak to his boss. When she refused, three men approached her from the minibus.
“One was holding a gun, and I noticed a second one holding a letter. They told me they were from IG’s office in Abuja. And that I needed to sign this letter and acknowledge it,” Dakolo said. According to the letter, she was accused of criminal conspiracy, falsehood, mischief and threat to life. In a surprising twist, she, the accuser and initial petitioner now had to answer to allegations. The petition also included her musician husband.
Social media celebrated photographer Busola for coming out
Women activists hoped her story would set off a #MeToo movement in Nigeria. This is mainly because patriarchal traditions continue to stigmatise rape survivors in Nigeria. Unfortunately, it seemed there was an even bigger media rebuttal from the COZA pastor.
“Busola Dakolo was never raped nor had any form of intercourse with Biodun Fatoyinbo. She fabricated the entire story to garner sympathy for a bigger assignment of defamation,” wrote the controversial blogger Kemi Omololu-Olunloyo. Later, she posted: “Busola Dakolo should exit this web of lies now. There was NO RAPE!”
“If God be for him, even all the celebrities, everyone that has made comments, even the over two million followers on Instablog can’t bring him down.” This from Ernest Esekhile, a Christian DJ, on Instagram. It was a special police branch who in a counter-case filed by Coza, brought the charges against the Dakolos. This was despite investigations stalling on the initial case.
“Our culture doesn’t allow speaking of these sorts of things against anointed men of God,” Dakolo said. “They’d rather hide it, and the party that is being victimised tends to live with that self-blame. The damage on the survivor is extremely terrible. The society, the church, keeps sweeping things under the carpet.”
Fatoyinbo has returned to the pulpit on Sunday after a month’s absence
“As a Christian, you must face opposition. If God, who is holy and faithful, has enemies, you are sure going to have,” he said to the congregation.
The Nigerian police force put out a statement after their delivery of the Dakolos' letters faced public condemnation. It read: “a police invitation letter is not synonymous with a warrant of arrest, and must not be construed to be one. Rather, it is a polite investigative tool used in eliciting information voluntarily from parties to aid police investigations.”
But Dakolo said it was “extremely intimidating” to have a gunman emerge from a darkened minibus. And that while she eventually went along, she was in shock.
“Is this what everybody goes through? Everyone that comes out to say their truth, everybody that says something about someone that is influential?” she asked. “Who’s going to be there for the common man? Who is going to be there for someone who nobody knows?”
The lawyer and women’s rights advocate Ayisha Osori said Nigeria had “a very strong rape culture” and that men and the state felt a sense of entitlement to women’s bodies. “That’s why the state doesn’t typically play a supportive role, but instead plays a role to maintain power structures,” she said.
Osori said that it may not quite be Nigeria’s #MeToo moment yet.
But it is a “huge deal” to have an educated, public-facing woman speak out, with a supportive spouse alongside her. It would be looked back on as a milestone.
“It’s not done for women who have everything to lose to come out and say: ‘This has happened to me.’ That a middle-class family, a well-known family responds as they do – it’s extremely positive.”
The way Dakolo saw the reaction to her allegations, she said: “He [Fatoyinbo] is in denial and he’s just trying to cover up and protect everything about himself.”
She said she was praying for justice and she hoped it would encourage others to come forward.
“This issue is beyond me. This is what’s happening, and the church is a place where they don’t talk about this.
“I decided to come out for me,” she added. “It’s for me and others, so they can begin their process of healing, so they can begin to live freely.”
Original story on The Guardian