THE Ogun state government has suspended Abiodun Abudu-Balogun, commissioner for environment, accused of sexual harassment by Barakat Mayowa Melojuekun, a 16-year old secondary school in the state.
Tokunbo Talabi, secretary to the state government, announced this in an issued statement on Sunday.
He said the decision to suspend the commissioner from office was to enable him to cooperate fully with the ongoing investigation being carried out by the Nigerian Police.
“Whilst taking cognisance 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,” parts of the statement had read.
While directing the suspended commissioner to hand over to the permanent secretary, ministry of environment, the statement assured the public that the state government would do everything to ensure that justice was served in this case.
The ICIR had reported how Barakat accused the commissioner of an attempt to rape her in a confessionary statement to security operatives.
She said the incident occurred on Thursday, December 31, 2020, at the residence of the commissioner at Ita Otu, Ogun Waterside Local Government Area of the state.
Malojuekun said she had met with Abiodun, who voluntarily gave her a ride on December 29, 2020 while she was going to register for her National Identity Number. She noted that the commissioner tried to ask for her number as soon as he dropped her from the car but she told him to get it from his uncle who worked at a nearby motor park.
She further narrated that one Lasisi came to lure her to the commissioner’s house on the pretence that her service as a computer literate was needed at a place which was unknown to her.
She added that on getting to the commissioner’s house, she was again lured into his bedroom by another of his aides after which the commissioner came in and bolted the door. The commissioner allegedly sat close to her on the bed and was caressing her body, while offering her money.
She said while she was trying to resist him the commissioner was reciting incantations and was trying to lay his hand on her.
She was only allowed to go out after repeated screams by her.
Meanwhile, Abdul-Balogun has denied the allegation, describing it as a game of local politics by some people who are trying tarnish his image because of his ‘visions’.
“You know we are politicians and you know the game of politics, especially local politics, as people would want to destroy you once you have the visions. This is happening from my homestead. I have been in Ijebu for the past one week for the festivity. So, I am just getting back. So, it is all about some people; so, I know the game. But I can tell you that there is more to this than what we are seeing. It is just lies, blackmail and falsehood,” he said.
“Look at the video and see that somebody was asking leading questions from the girl in question. They are not her original words.”
Abimbola Oyeyemi, spokesperson of the Ogun state police command told The ICIR that Kenneth Ebrimson, state commissioner of police, has directed investigation into the allegation.