Three days after a Saturday PUNCH report detailed how a part-time lecturer of the University of Lagos, Akin Baruwa, allegedly raped an 18-year-old admission seeker, Shola (not real name), a 28-year-old former student of the lecturer, has come out with a revelation of how she barely escaped being raped by the accused.
The young woman, who spoke under the strict condition of anonymity, explained that the sexual assault of the 18-year-old girl provided a window of opportunity for her to expose what she went through in the hands of Baruwa.
In February 2014, Agnes (not real name) was finalising her undergraduate project at the Distant Learning Institute of UNILAG. She told Saturday PUNCH she was like a prey, which fell into the lap of Baruwa, when she was reassigned to him after her supervisor retired.
Agnes explained to Punch correspondent that she felt a surge of anger when she realised that some reactions to Shola’s story showed that some people did not believe the poor girl’s story.
She explained that she felt obligated to share her own story as a way of showing solidarity with the girl.
Certification page of Agnes’ project signed by Baruwa (arrowed)
Agnes said, “I finished my project around December 2013. It was around that time my supervisor, who was a very pleasant woman, retired. I was reassigned to Mr. Akinfolarin Baruwa. I got his number and called him on the phone and he told me to come the following day.
“He fixed the appointment around 5pm the next day. I went to meet him in an office in the Faculty of Business Administration, which he shared with another lecturer. I noticed it was the other lecturer’s name that was on the door.
“When I got to his office, I noticed that there was a student that came to submit her project also. She was from the Lagos State University. So, I supposed he was also doing part-time work at LASU.
“While I was there, other students came to submit their projects also and he told me to wait outside. Later he started sending me on errands. He would tell me to go and make one photocopy or another or buy things for him. I was patient and did everything he asked.
“He did all these until around 8pm when he eventually looked at my project. As soon as he opened the pages, he flung it away. ‘What kind of rubbish is this?’ he said. He said I would have to start the project from the beginning.
“Mr. Baruwa told me that everything I did was rubbish. He said I did not cite a particular reference somewhere and said he would report me to our course adviser for plagiarism and I would be given an extra year. He just wanted to hold on to something just to rubbish my work.”
Agnes alleged that it was at this point that she started to beg Baruwa. She claimed that she was on her knees because she was writing exams and most of her colleagues had already finished their project.
“There was also a deadline I had to meet for the submission of the project. I explained all these to him and begged. Later, he said I should drop the project that he would see what he could do about it,” Agnes said.
According to Agnes, Baruwa does not have a doctoral degree. She said he was a part-time lecturer, who was assigned students for supervision and given invigilation roles during examinations.
It would be recalled that the management of UNILAG had on Monday, denied having Baruwa under the employ of the institution despite the fact that he supervised the final projects of many students in the Faculty of Business Administration.
A handwritten complaint filed against Baruwa, which Agnes submitted to UNILAG authorities
Infact, Agnes, who is now married, showed Punch correspondent a copy of her undergraduate project, bearing Baruwa’s name and signature.
Agnes said after Baruwa softened on his threat that she would have an extra year, she went down on her knees to thank him but while she was mouthing her appreciation, the man allegedly moved around the office closing the blinds.
“He brought out some fruits from the fridge. I thought he was preparing to go home when he was doing that. He was clearing the books on the sofa. He said, ‘is that how to say thank you?’ I only knew something was amiss when he suddenly locked the door,” she said.
“Before I knew what was happening, he pulled me and put my hands on his manhood. He grabbed my breasts and I began to struggle with him. He started to forcibly remove my clothes. I was shocked beyond words. I felt really violated.
“He grew more aggressive as I fought him off. I screamed but I knew my screaming would do nothing because the office is opposite the UNILAG guesthouse by the seaside.
“I am asthmatic. As he was about to force himself on me, I realised that I was beginning to have breathing problem as if an attack was on its way. I decided to lay still and I started breathing excessively as if I was already having asthmatic attack. I started to beg him as I breathed heavily. I told him, ‘Please, I can’t breathe, I have asthma.’
“He then left me alone after that and apologised. He said he was not usually like that and that he was only aroused. He said I should just give him a ‘handjob’ (fondle his manhood with my hand) instead. I started to beg him again and pretended as if I wanted to faint. I told him to open the door in order for me to get fresh air.”
Agnes said as she rushed out of Baruwa’s office, she was in so much shock that she lost her bag with , out knowing. She said the shock was so much that she fell down and could not move.
According to her, her troubles did not stop there.
She claimed that the next time she went to Baruwa’s office for her project, she had to tell a friend to follow her.
She said, “He must have sighted me from afar because when I told him that I was around, he just dismissed me that he had no time. He gave me an appointment for early morning but I went there some minutes after 7am. He said, ‘You think you are smart eh? You are playing with your graduation.’
“After I eventually got the project back from him and went back to submit, there was a little activity in his office then. He told me to wait outside. As the office cleared and the lecturer he shared the office with left, he called me inside.
“He started to force himself on me again and I started begging that I had a fiancée. He said ‘So?’ In broad daylight, he was fondling me. But as I resisted him and dragged myself from his grip, my shirt tore. I was infuriated. I stormed out of his office and threatened that I was going straight to the vice chancellor’s office.
“He became aggressive at this point and shouted at me that I should get out of his office. He said I would never graduate. I was so angry that I was going straight towards the senate building.”
Agnes said she was later called back by someone who knew her. She claimed that some officials in the faculty intervened in the matter that day and that when Baruwa was approached on the issue, he feigned ignorance.
“He said, ‘Me? I was only telling her about the corrections she had to effect on her project and told her to come back when she started shouting.’ Later, the lecturers were behind closed door with him and I did not hear what they discussed. When they came out, they just told me to forget the issue,” she said.
Saturday PUNCH learnt that Agnes’ problem persisted when it was time for Baruwa to submit her score sheet to her course adviser.
According to her, every student was mandated to submit a score sheet to their respective project supervisor, who would in turn submit to the course adviser.
Agnes said, “Without it, you cannot submit the final copy of your project or defend the project. In short, you cannot graduate,” Agnes told Punch correspondent. “But Mr. Baruwa refused to submit my score sheet. I kept asking him about it and he kept referring me to the course adviser. He maintained he had submitted it. But the course adviser kept telling me she had not got my score sheet.
“He later said something that made me realise he was merely punishing me for not allowing him to have his way with me. While I was going through these problems, I heard of other ladies who had the same problem but could not speak out.
“When the frustration was too much, I had to write a letter of complaint telling the school authorities to look into my issue with Mr. Baruwa.
“He later submitted my score sheet after he put me through so much trouble. By the time I escaped him, I was already psychologically drained.
“When I heard about the case of this other girl, I just shook my head because there was no way the girl could have escaped him.”
Despite initial denials from the UNILAG management that it did not know who Baruwa was, it was learnt that he supervised the final projects of undergraduates.
Saturday PUNCH learnt that after Agnes’ report to the school authorities, Baruwa was stopped from supervising female students. But why he still retained his part-time duties in the faculty is not clear.
Punch correspondent contacted the Public Affairs Officer of UNILAG, Mr. Olagoke Oke, following this fresh allegation.
He said every allegations against Baruwa would be discussed by a four-man panel set up by the institution to look into how the suspect got into the university system.
Asked if the school could now admit that he was indeed working in the institution and that he was even supervising undergraduate projects, he said, “That might have been possible in DLI (Distant Learning Institute). But the panel would look at all these and come out with the report of its investigation soon.”