Observers that filled a Lagos Magistrate’s Court to capacity were let down on Wednesday as Dr. Akin Baruwa, who reportedly raped an 18-year-old University of Lagos admission seeker, failed to show up in court.
It was learnt that Baruwa, a lecturer at the university’s Distance Learning Institute, who had been in remand at the Kirikiri Prison since August 7, reportedly declined to follow the prison officers while they were coming to the court with other inmates.
The defendant had been in trouble since August 3, when he was arrested by the police for allegedly raping his friend’s daughter inside an office at the institution’s Department of Accounting.
PUNCH Metro had exclusively reported that the teenage girl had, on the order of her father, followed Baruwa to the school on July 23 to assist her in gaining admission into the university.
The 42-year-old lecturer had owned up to having a sexual intercourse with the girl although he claimed it was “consensual.”
He was subsequently arraigned on one count of rape and granted bail in the sum of N250,000 with two sureties in like sum, while his case file was sent to the Directorate of Public Prosecutions for legal advice.
But the bail conditions had yet to be perfected as of Wednesday when he refused to show up in court.
A lawyer from the Office of the Public Defender, Mrs. Ibidun Ibikunle, while refuting the claim by the defence counsel that he (Baruwa) was absent in court on health grounds, told the court that he refused to answer prison officers when he was called.
Ibikunle, who held brief for the complainant, said, “What the defence counsel said is not true. I spoke with the head of the prison warders earlier today (Wednesday) and he did not tell me anything like that. He said when the warders were coming to court with other defendants, they called him, but he refused to follow them. So, I don’t know where the defence counsel got the claim that Baruwa is ill from.”
He said, “My Lord, the defendant is critically ill and I learnt he has been admitted in a hospital. It has been very difficult to secure his bail. What we are thinking is that if we are able to secure his bail, he will have access to a better medical care. We believe the law is not one-way traffic and it is when he is well enough that he can face the trial on this matter. In fact, according to the law, he is still presumed innocent in respect of this matter.”
The prosecutor, Jimah Ishegede, said the counsel was not in the position to prove whether the accused was ill or not. He, however, said he did not object to the counsel’s bail application.
The presiding magistrate, Mr. T. Elias, adjourned the case till September 21, 2015 for the outcome of the DPP’s advice.
Meanwhile, the victim’s mother has expressed her displeasure at the way the incident is being handled by an investigation panel set up by UNILAG.
The woman said she was not satisfied with the defence put up by the head of the panel when she enquired about how Baruwa had access to the office.
She said, “The panel invited us in August. They asked the girl how the incident went and she explained. When they insisted they did not know him, I asked the professor who interviewed us how Baruwa had access to the office
“She replied that it could be that a lecturer friend of Baruwa gave him access to the office to carry out a research. I am not satisfied with the reply.”