On May 5, 2020, a 62-year old royal father popularly known as Aketewi of Iketewi, Oba Olusiji Ogungbemi, his son, Gbenga (21) and one other person simply identified as SarafaOlayiwola allegedly took turn to defile a 14-year old girl in a town called IlareIjeshain Osun State.
Oba Ogungbemi is a native of IlareIjesha and monarch presiding over the affairs of Iketewi, a tiny village between IlareIjesha and Ilahun in Obokun Local Government Area of thestate.
The victim was living with her aunt, Esther Ogungbemi, in Ilare at the time of the incident.
The hapless girl, according to the police, is already carrying a baby for the three suspected rapists.
The incident though took place on Tuesday, May 5, the trio of Ogungbemi, Gbenga and Sarafa were not picked up until the following week Thursday, May 14, after the guardian of the victim reported the matter at the police station.
Specifically, the guardian involved the police when the girl started throwing up and later tested positive to pregnancy.
After a thorough investigation, the police found a prima facie case against the royal father and the two others and decided to transfer the case file to Osogbo Magistrate Courtfor trial.
They have since been arraigned on a three-count charge of conspiracy, rape and sexual exploitation.
During arraignment, police prosecutor, ASP John Idoko, told the trial magistrate, Dr Olusegun Ayilara that the trio conspired with one another to sexually exploit the 14-year-old girl and impregnated her in the process.
But from the dock, the royal father and his alleged accomplices denied the allegations and challenged the police to go ahead with their trial if it had evidence against them.
Separate counsel for the monarch and his son, MrsYinkaPopoola, and that of the third defendant, TunbosunOladipupo, later applied for bail of their clients on liberal terms, assuring the court that they would not jump bail.
But the trial magistrate refused to give a bench ruling on the bail application as he adjourned till May 18 for a well-considered ruling while he ordered that they should all be remanded in police custody pending ruling.
While Oba Ogungbemi was cooling his heels in detention, the Ijesa North Traditional Council announced his suspension at an emergency meeting held on Sunday, May 17 at the palace of Elegboro of Ijebujesa, HRM Oba (Engr.) Moses OluwafemiAgunsoye.
In a statement jointly signed by the President of the Council, Elegboro of Ijebu-Jesa, Oba Moses Agunsoye and the Secretary, Olomu of Ijaregbe, Oba Edward Adetimo on Monday, they directed him to steer clear of all activities of Ijesa North Traditional Council and Obokun Chieftaincy Committee pending the decision of the court in the matter.
The Council also used the opportunity to clear the name of Oba AdejoroOtebolaku, the Owalare of Ilare who was initially identified as the royal culprit and the Alahun of Ilahun whose image was used to illustrate the story on the social media when the news broke.
We have carefully followedthe unfolding story regarding the alleged rape of the Osun teenager.
We note that the royal father and his accomplices have denied the allegation and that the judiciary is already seized of the facts of the case and at this stage, can only say that the entire incident remains an allegation until proven.
We therefore call on the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to appoint one of its members, well versed in criminal jurisprudence, to join in the case as amicus curiae to monitor and ensure that Justice is donein the case.
We also urge the prosecution and the judiciary to do everything possible and necessary to ensure that they get to the root of the matter and ensure that justice is not only done in the case but seen to have been done.
If at the end of the trial, the accused persons are found guilty, the judiciary must come with the full weight of the law against them.
On the other hand, if the accused persons are found to be innocent after trial, unreserved apology must be tendered to them, particularly the royal father,whose image as a representative of a sacred institution, has not only been soiled but terribly battered.