"It Was A Ploy To Escape Marrying Me" - OAU Professor Responds To Alleged Sexual Assault Against Female Student

"It Was A Ploy To Escape Marrying Me" - OAU Professor Responds To Alleged Sexual Assault Against Female Student

A Professor of Yoruba Incantations and Stylistics at the Department of Linguistics and African Languages of the Faculty of Arts of Obafemi Awololwo University, Ile-Ife, Joseph Opefeyitimi has described as a "set-up" an allegation of sexual harassment filed against him by a female Student of the institution, Hannah Babafunmi.

A Professor of Yoruba Incantations and Stylistics at the Department of Linguistics and African Languages of the Faculty of Arts of Obafemi Awololwo University, Ile-Ife, Joseph Opefeyitimi has described as a "set-up" an allegation of sexual harassment filed against him by a female Student of the institution, Hannah Babafunmi.

Miss Babafunmi, a 400 Level Student of the same department had in a petition written to the University through the Head of the department, dated March 21, 2022 accused the lecturer of sexual assault and molestation against her in his office on 17th March, 2022.

The 25-year-old student in the petition with the title “Report of Sexual Assault and Molestation against Professor Ayo Opefeyitimi" narrated how the 66-year-old don invited her to his office and assaulted her.

She claimed the lecturer had sent her a message on WhatsApp on Thursday, March 17, and requested to see her on the campus between the hours of 8 a.m and 2 p.m on Friday, 18.

The student said she had in the past helped the lecturer to upload his notes on the university’s teaching platform during the coronavirus pandemic when the institution switched to online mode of studying.

She said as a lecturer she respected, she obliged the request to see her because “I really couldn’t question his order.”

The lady in a report by PREMIUM TIMES narrated: “I got to his office around 1:23 pm. He told me that he only wanted to ask about what was going on on the campus since he wasn’t on campus the previous day.

“I was astounded to hear that but I told him to take the Road 7 route when ready to go home because road 1 was blocked. He asked me to sit down and he asked me the reason why the road was blocked. Then I told him that I didn’t really know and heard that it was all about the appointment of the new VC.

“He decided to leave the office immediately and he packed his things saying that I was God-sent to him because it was almost 2p.m and he needed to pick up his son from the school. He carried the bag and we were about to leave the office. I offered to help him with the bag but he declined and I headed to the door.

“He grabbed me from behind and held me so tight. At this point I was in shock, then he said and I quote “Mo fẹ́ kí èmi àti ẹ jọ wà papọ̀ ni [thrice] but problem tí mo ní tẹ́lẹ̀ ni boy Ajibade yẹn but mi ò rò pé ó yẹ kó jẹ́ problem mọ́- (I want the two of us to be together (three times), but the problem I had before was that boy called Ajibade, but I don’t think he should pose any challenge again.”

The student said until she went through the whole experience in her head again and married the events of the recent past together, she couldn’t understand what Opefeyitimi was referring to when he mentioned the name of her mentor, Ajibade.

“Meanwhile, after he grabbed me behind, he already dropped the big bag he was carrying and held me with his other hand. He made me sit on his lap and was groping me, he then said again “Mi ò mọ bí a ṣe fẹ́ ṣe é tí o fi máa graduate pẹ̀lú 2:1 kí o lè padà wá ṣe Masters”- (I don’t know how we would do it so that you could graduate with 2:1, so that you would be able to come for Masters),” she added.

She said all her pleas for the lecturer to leave her fell on a deaf ear, “even when I said I would come back next time. He then stood up from the chair still forcefully holding me and dragged me to the couch in his office. By this time he had already pulled down his trousers and brought out his erect manhood.

“He grabbed my right hand, and used it to rub his penis. It happened so quickly that I was petrified. He continued to do this and I was so distressed by the entire situation that I lost count of time,” she further explained.

Meanwhile, the student said at one stage the lecturer felt relaxed, sleeping on the couch with his head lowered backwards on the arm of the couch.

“At that stage, I managed to take out my phone from my pocket and snapped him with his erect organ out of his knicker,” she said.

She said when she told the lecturer that someone was waiting for her at the ground floor of the department, which is located in the same building that is also occupied by the Dramatic Arts, Music and Fine Arts departments, he was not bothered.

“But he replied me and said “Gbogbo time tí mo ní pẹ̀lú ẹ báyìí kò ju 5mins lọ, jọ̀wọ́ bá mi ṣe é mo kàn fẹ́ come ni (The time I have with you now isn’t more than five minutes, please play with, I just want to come); I won’t touch you today please because I didn’t inform you before.

“I begged him that I was not comfortable at all and that he should please let me go, but he didn’t listen to me. He laid down on his couch and was using my hand to stroke his manhood. At some point, he stood up, dragged me to his table, turned my back to him and was rubbing his manhood on me. At this point, all my pleas to him to please release me fell on deaf ears.

“He pinned me there against the table, rubbing his manhood on my back, repeating over and over again, “O ṣe é, O ṣe é (Thank you, thank you).”

The student said by that time, the lecturer had already worn his knicker but continued to rub his erect manhood on her buttocks with her pair of jean trousers firmly worn.

“I think the reason he put on the knicker was to avoid my pair of jeans trousers being wet with his spam so that whoever sees me coming out of his office in that condition would not raise concern,” she added.

Meanwhile, she said when she was eventually freed and wanted to leave, the lecturer asked him where she was staying and whether she would see him again on Monday, March 21 “but I told him, no!”.

She said: “He asked me why? Out of fear for my life and safety, I told him that it was because my place was far. I was trying hard to say whatever would make him release me. I had never been so terrified as I was that day in his office.

“He asked me where my place was. And I told him that I live at Aba Iya Gani. He then offered to come and pick me but I declined, after which he asked me if I knew Olatoke Hotel at Opa. I said I did not know the place and he said that was no problem; that anytime I’m free to come on Monday, nobody will disturb him and then he gave me a thousand naira for transportation.

“I collected the money because I believed he wouldn’t have allowed me to go if I didn’t collect it from him.”

In her petition, Bababunmi described the situation as “an obvious abuse of power in which my faith in someone who has been a teacher and mentor, someone that I look up to and had maximum respect for since the very day I entered this university, has been exploited.”

“Professor Opefeyitimi teaches a class that I currently take, and he has the power to fail me or give me any grade that he pleases. In addition, I took another class with him, and he has not yet released the grade for that class.

“My career depends on the grades he gives me. I believe his failure to fully penetrate me in his office frustrated him, and I was lucky that I wore tight trousers that he was unable to yank down,” she also said.

The accused Professor however described the whole encounter was planned work of Babafunmi to escape marrying him after having dated for more than four years.

In his response to query letter dated 26th March, 2022, the lecturer said that himself and the lady in question had both agreed to marry each other after her graduation only that Babafunmi has just trapped him to escape the planned union.

He added that the encounter of March 17 in his office was consensual and was initiated by Hannah herself but he was surprised that the whole thing went the other way round. 

Opefeyitimi urged the University to dismiss the allegations brought him, claiming that he was framed up by the student.

He wrote "I am Professor Joseph A. Opefeyitimi, sorry for replying a little late. I was not at home and instructed my family members to take the letters for me.

“Truly, Babafemi Boluwatife Hannah was in my office on Thursday the 17th March, 2022. All that happened in my office was consensual and she was the one that called for it. I never knew she had a grand master's plan for me. 

“I thought as husband and wife to be right from before she got admission into our department, I could leave her to treat me the way she wanted. I called her as a result of the situation in town because she lives there and she actually came to update me.

”There are too many lies in her write-ups. For instance, while paragraph three was true, paragraph four was self-contradictory. Again, her claim of indecent assault in paragraph eleven that I, “sexually assaulted, molested and violated” her between 1:23 pm she entered my office and the 2 pm I had to take my son from school, which I did, must be substantiated because it turned the whole allegation from civility, tending towards criminality. This is why I am involving a lawyer.

“I am suggesting by way of appeal that my lawyer be made to witness all proceedings relating to this case. In fact, I will be grateful if he could be made to sit if only as an observer at today's 12 noon Departmental panel.

“In summary, Boluwatife is my wife to be. She was responsible for all that happened in my office on that day. If after four years of dating, waiting to consummate our union, she suddenly turned around to be cleverly taking pictures of the body parts as evidence to indict me, I must not handle the case alone, since my wife at home is privy to our relationship. 

“Since our relationship was being planned towards marriage after her graduation, I already took my wife into confidence on in, even though the lady wants the relationship to be kept secret. It is now I can understand why she wanted the relationship kept secret and that she had never been sincere.

“I want the panels to discountenance and dismiss the petition. It is a ploy to escape marrying me despite her promise and all the assistance I have rendered to her including the awards she had taken within the period of her studentship.”

Meanwhile, the University has debunked the claim that it is on the move to sweep the matter under the carpet.

The University's Public Relations Officer, Abiodun Olanrewaju in an interview reiterated the institution's commitment to her zero tolerance for Sexual Harassment and all forms of abuse against students.

"You should trust the university that we don’t joke with any issue of harassment, molestation and any form of abuse. We have a history of zero tolerance for such and we can count how many staffers have been sanctioned when found guilty.

“So the public should know that this matter cannot be different, and I can assure you that it will be treated simply based on its merit.", Olanrewaju said.

He added that the probe into the allegations against Opefeyitimi has stalled due to the ongoing industrial action embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities.

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