A group, the Coalition of Public Interests Lawyers and Advocates (COPA), has called on the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, to shelve his plan to transfer the trial of Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo of the Commonwealth of Zion Assembly, from Lagos to Abuja.
Busola Dakolo, popular photographer and wife of musician Timi Dakolo had alleged that the pastor raped her while she was a choir member as a teen in his church.
Few days after Dakolo's allegation came to light, another woman, a former staff of the Fatoyinbos also accused the COZA pastor of rape while she cared for his children abroad.
Fatoyinbo has repeatedly denied the allegations.
COPA in a statement on Monday by its Convener, Pelumi Olajengbesi, said the police is moving suspiciously in the matter to give the suspect, Fatoyinbo, a soft-landing.
The statement read: “The recent adverse developments in the matter of the rape allegation against Biodun Fatoyinbo of COZA by Busola Dakolo which has the tendency to imperil the thoroughness of the investigation underway has necessitated this press statement.
“You will recall that following the intense public outcry by individuals and groups, the Nigeria Police Force was moved into action to call, interrogate and make findings on the rape allegations against Fatoyinbo. However, our keen observation of the processes being undertaken by the Police Force on this matter reveals a lack-luster and suspicious plot underfoot to give a soft landing to the suspect.
“We have noticed with displeasure the usual mischievous moves that have come to characterize the Nigeria Police Force in the past whenever it is set to deliberately or negligently mess up a case of such importance.
“We do hereby state emphatically that the Nigeria Police Force is not handling the Fatoyinbo rape allegation with the urgency and seriousness it deserves. This is wrong, condemnable and very much in disregard of the need to ensure that justice is done in the matter regardless of whose ox is gored.
“On June 27 2019, even before it was made known to the media, Mrs Busola Dakolo filed a petition against popular Abuja-based pastor, Biodun Fatoyinbo of COZA, at the Office of the Assistant Inspector General of Police in Alagbon, Ikoyi.
“Ordinarily, given the publicity the matter has generated, one would have thought that the Nigeria Police will swing into action and build the confidence of the Nigerian People that the Force is dependable and up to the task of rooting out the truth of the matter. It is not without great surprise and disappointment that we have noticed sinister moves by the force with the intention maybe to undermine the truth.
“Going further, a warrant of arrest was issued to secure Mr. Biodun Fatoyinbo to answer questions in line with the Police investigation. Unfortunately, nothing has been done and Fatoyinbo has continued to walk freely without reporting to the police station.
"Instead of arresting him for proper interrogation, the Police have now changed gear after days of filing the complaint with the victim now being unduly pressurized to relocate to Abuja or to fly to Abuja everyday as the Nigeria Police Force intend to transfer the matter here. This is unacceptable.
“We totally reject all attempts by the Inspector General of Police to unduly transfer the matter to Abuja where the accused is resident. This is like giving the accused person a red carpet treatment when he should actually be thoroughly investigated. Though we acknowledge the fact that the IGP have the administrative discretion to transfer matters to any division or jurisdiction for proper investigation, we make bold to say that same must be exercised judiciously and professionally.
“It must be noted that priority must also be given to the security and convenience of the vital and primary witness, which in this case is Mrs. Busayo Dakolo.
“We call on the IGP to drop his personal interest in this matter, where any, and allow justice take its full course as a respecter of no one. We have sufficient information that the IGP has taken personal interest in the case as Mr. Biodun Fatoyinbo has influenced him into redirecting the case to Abuja where it would most likely be suffocated and dropped.
“Our demands are simply that the matter be allowed its due course within the jurisdiction where the complaint was filed. Transferring the case to Abuja from Lagos where it was originally filed prejudices the complainant while extending a kid’s glove to the accused who perhaps feels too connected to deign to go to Lagos to answer to the serious allegations against him.
“We are vehemently opposed to such a move and demand that this matter be thoroughly investigated and the accused invited to the place of domicile of the victim especially given the matter was filed there.
“Let it be abundantly clear that we are sufficiently conscious of the law in matters of jurisdiction as to investigation and prosecution of criminal matters. In this matter, investigation can take place in Lagos, Nigeria and if any place should be given premium attention, it is the place of residence of the victim to aid and facilitate proper information needed by the police and not the place of residence of the accused.
“In any case, where the Nigeria Police Force attempts to bring up argument of where the elements of the offence took place to determine prosecution, let it be known that it is Ilorin, Kwara state, not Abuja. The alleged case happened in Ilorin years back. The victim now lives in Lagos and the suspect is in Abuja.
“In conclusion, we would like to remind the Nigeria Police Force that a valid and active warrant of arrest against Mr. Biodun Fatoyimbo is yet to be executed. The Nigeria Police Force is setting itself up for ridicule and suspicion, and are in themselves in gross contempt of their oath of office and duties as enforcers of civil and criminal discipline.
“COPA will diligently continue to monitor matters as they arise and unfold with a view to checking the abuse of the process by parties in this matter and duly communicating same to the public. The handling of such a delicate yet grievous allegation will go a long way to either mar or make the reputation of the Nigeria Police Force as an institution of discipline and an objective principal in the pursuit of justice.”