Legal Analysis: Busola Dakolo, COZA Staff, Pastor Abiodun Fatoyinbo and Rape Laws in Nigeria

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Over the past weekend, YNaija TV dropped an explosive interview conducted by Chude Jideonwo in which Busola Dakolo, wife of popular Nigerian musician Timi Dakolo, accused Nigerian Celebrity Pastor, Abiodun Fatoyinbo, of raping her. She alleged it happened twice while she was a teenager. – See the videos below.

While there have been numerous accusations in the past against Pastor Fatoyinbo for sexual violence, and harassment, all of which fell on deaf ears, Busola’s allegation proved to be a game changer. In fact, it has ignited what many Nigerians are calling “Nigeria’s #Metoomovement.”

Why you may ask, has Busola’s voice made a difference and caused such a movement when prior allegations have failed to cause such a shift? I believe a big factor is the fact that she is the wife of a popular singer and has his support.  Indeed, in Nigerian society, there is arguably no reason a married woman of such status will reveal that a celebrity pastor raped her unless it is true. Given the long-standing culture of silence, it would be a shame to her husband, her family and his. Also, unlike prior alleged victims who many members of the public accused of an attempt to gain notoriety and money, Busola has both so there is arguably no motive to reveal the alleged rapes unless again it is true.

Busola’s revelation has received mix reactions. Many, from national leaders to the everyday Nigerian have said they believe her. Indeed, some appeared at Pastor Fatoyinbo’s church to protest and demand that he step down from preaching, pending an investigation and resolution of Busola’s claims. The protests and pressure, among other factors, led to Pastor Fatoyinbo, a few days ago, agreeing to step down from preaching, for now. – See a screenshot of his statement below.

Worse for the Pastor, more women have come forward with their allegations of rape by the Pastor against them. The latest of those allegations can also be seen below. By the way, in case you are reading this outside of Nigeria, Pastor Fatoyinbo’s popularity extends beyond Nigerian shores. Beyond hobnobbing with some of America’s and British’s gospel heavyweights and pastors, he founded his church Common Wealth of Zion Assembly (COZA) and has been able to scale the non-profit across Nigeria, and abroad. The church is growing rapidly and there is even a branch in Dubai.

Back to Busola and the mixed reactions, her story has received.

Indeed, not everyone has embraced her story/allegations as truth. In fact, just as many have attacked her credibility and one of the primary reasons cited is that because she waited over a decade to share her story, her story is simply not credible.

Just like the U.S., in the Nigerian justice system, an accused person is deemed innocent until proven guilty. Nevertheless, when it comes to the credibility of the allegation, I believe Busola Dakolo.

As of this writing, it is now alleged that Busola has filed a complaint against the Pastor. My research into the time limit that victims of rape have (especially when an alleged crime was committed decades ago) to file a claim against a perpetrator in Nigeria proved futile. So, for criminal defense lawyers or prosecutors based in Nigeria reading this, please share in the comment section the statute of limitation for rape crimes to be filed and prosecuted in your jurisdiction.

In light of the claim that Busola has allegedly filed a criminal complaint against the Pastor with the Nigerian police, I thought I’d revisit the topic of rape laws in Nigeria. I have previously discussed this topic on the blog, in fact, it was a few years ago when a Georgia woman accused Timaya of raping her.

Here we go…

General Rules About Rape

“No” means “No:” As a general rule, you never want to be accused, arrested and/or convicted of rape. Don’t let that ever happen. “No” means “no” when a person you may have an interest in has not consented to sexual intercourse with you.

Consent: There is no consent if a victim is intoxicated, lacks the mental capacity to consent, is unconscious, or is a minor.

Defenses in rape crimes: There are several defenses where rape crimes are concerned. If it can be shown that there was in fact consent, a reasonable belief in consent,  or that an allegation is false, then a conviction on rape against you is unlikely.

Gender is irrelevant: Present day Nigeria has limited rape to rape by a man against a woman. Modern statutes/law, however, in leading western countries have expanded such definitions so that gender is irrelevant. In Nigeria, I believe gender should be irrelevant as well. Many young boys and men are getting raped at an alarming rate by relatives, so-called friends, and strangers and the law simply does nothing to protect them from their perpetrators.

Rape is a Felony crime: This means if convicted of rape in Nigeria, you can serve a sentence that is one year or more.  The actual term in Nigeria is life imprisonment.

Full Penetration Not Necessary: Full penetration is not necessary, it can be slight, to be convicted of rape. Emission is unnecessary to complete the crime of rape.

Counts of Rape: Each time a perpetrator penetrates, it means he can be charged with yet another rape count. So, for example, a criminal defendant could have 15 counts of rape charges filed against him if he penetrated 15times during the course of the rape against his victim.

Sex with a minor is rape i.e. statutory rape.

In Nigeria, the minor age under some of the criminal statutes is 14 years and under. However, generally, a minor age is deemed under 14-18 years. There have been numerous reports including western articles claiming the age of consent is 11 years or under in Nigeria. But the Nigerian Supreme Court in interpreting the law has made clear that a child under 11 years cannot consent to sexual intercourse.

Married Men Can be Rapist Too.

There are five criminal statutes (laws) that govern rape in Nigeria. All of them, whether explicitly or my silence, indicate that married men cannot be rapists. But in my view, married men can be rapists and the rules have to change on the books to reflect this.

SPECIFIC RAPE LAWS IN NIGERIA

What law governs rape in Nigeria? 

The laws on rape in Nigerian is fragmented. There are state-specific laws that govern rape applicable to each state in the country. There is the Penal Code (Northern States) Federal Provisions Act; the Nigerian Criminal Code Act (Southern States); the Child Rights Act, and the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act. 

Many of these laws are not necessarily applicable to all states (i.e. on a federal level) within the country, which can make it a bit tricky for the prosecution of a perpetrator. Also, the latter two statutes are recently enacted. So, it begs the question of whether they can apply retroactively for rape crimes committed in the state decades ago.

Nevertheless, all of the above laws share similarities and in this specific instance, my discussion will focus on the Nigerian Criminal Code and point out general share the rules applicable to all Nigerian citizens.

How is Rape Defined Under the Nigerian Criminal Code?

Nigerian Criminal Code Act, Chp. 77. Laws of the Federation of Nigeria. Subheading Chp. 30, Section 357-360.

Rape is defined as, “any person who has unlawful carnal knowledge of a woman or girl, without her consent is guilty of rape.”

Rape is also defined as, “any person who has unlawful carnal knowledge of a woman or girl with her consent but if the consent is obtained by force, threats, any kind of intimidation, false and fraudulent representation, in a case of a married woman, by personating her husband, is guilty of an offence which is called rape.”

Do Nigerian Criminal Laws Recognize Marital and Same-Sex Rape? 

No, it does not as stated above. There is no marital rape and there is no recognition of a man raping another man (same-sex rape).

What Types of Rapes are Recognized?

Nigerian criminal laws recognize:

  1. Rape by force.
  2. Rape by threats.
  3. Rape by fraud.
  4. Rape of a minor, that is a person below the age of consent.
  5. Gang and date rapes.

Rape Sentencing in Nigeria

  • A rape conviction carries a life imprisonment term.
  • Attempted rape is a felony that carries a 14-year imprisonment term.
  • An assault of a woman or girl carries a 2-year imprisonment term.

Watch the explosive interviews from Busola Dakolo and now a former COZA staff. Also, read the Pastor’s statement on stepping down.

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