Bola Bamigbola, Osogbo
A former lecturer in Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, Prof. Richard Iyiola Akindele, dragged to court for demanding sex to pass one of his students, Monica Osagie, was on Monday jailed for two years.
Justice Maureen Onyetenu, who had to stand down the case two times before finally giving her judgment, said regardless of the plea bargain arrived at by the parties, Akindele should be used as a scapegoat to stop molestation of female students by higher institutions’ lecturers.
She sentenced Akindele to 24 months’ jail term for asking Monica for sex, and handed him another 24 months’ jail term for soliciting sexual benefit from the student to pass her.
The visible displeased Justice Onyetenu also sentenced Akindele to 12 months’ jail term for deleting parts of WhatsApp conversation between him and Osagie to conceal evidence against him, and sentenced him to another 12 months’ jail term for falsification of age. The judge, however, said the sentences would run concurrently.
The judge, while noting that plea bargain could apply when public interest was involved, said public interest was against Akindele, as many female students had been turned to sex slaves by higher institutions’ lecturers.
“The menace is getting to secondary and primary schools. I am a pastor and counsellor. I know the mental torture that many of our female students have been subjected to by the likes of the respondent.
“The adverse effect of such action is huge. Many of his likes have been awarding marks to students that are ready to warm their bed, thereby releasing half-baked graduates into the society,” the judge said.
Earlier, Akindele, informed the court of his decision to change his plea from “not guilty’ to ‘guilty.”
When the matter came up on November 27, oral application for Akindele’s bail was rejected by the court, citing weighty allegations contained in the counter-affidavit filed against the application by counsel for the ICPC, Kehinde Ayantoye.
Rather than granting the application, Justice Onyetenu adjourned the matter till December 17 for presentation of facts to back fresh allegations raised in the affidavit and ordered that Akindele be returned to the prison.
At the resumed hearing of the matter, however, the prosecutor, Mr Shogunle Adenekan, deputy commissioner, legal Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission, informed the court that parties had reached plea bargain and sought suspended sentence for the respondent.
Counsel for the respondent, Mr Francis Omotosho, who appeared along with eight other lawyers, said Akindele was ready to change his plea and when his charge was read to him again, he pleaded guilty to all the four counts pressed against him.
Akindele’s charge read in part, “That on the 16th day of September, 2017, or thereabouts, you corruptly asked for sexual benefits for yourself from one Monica Osagie for a favour that would be thereafter shown to her by upgrading her academic record from fail to pass, thereby committing an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 8(1)(a) and 2 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission Act 2000.
“That you solicited sexual benefits from the victim on the 16th of September, 2017, or thereabouts for a favour to be given to you, the act contrary to and punishable under Section 18 (b) of the ICPC Act.”
The court rejected the terms of the plea bargain reached by the counsel and insisted that even with the parties accepting the terms, Akindele should still be punished to serve as a deterrent to lecturers involving in victimisation of female students.
She also demanded that Akindele’s victim consent should be secured before the plea bargain would be presented before the court.
Reacting, counsel for the ICPC, Shogunle Adenekan, hailed the judgment, saying the court exercised its discretion well by handing the respondent two years’ jail term.
One of the counsel that represented Akindele, Mr Adesina Olaniyan, said his client would not appeal the judgment.
Counsel for Monica Osagie, Emmanuella Azu, said it was not about Akindele spending years in prison, but sending signal to male lecturers that were in the habit of demanding sex from their students.