A group of more than 500 women organisations and individuals working across Nigeria to attain gender justice, Feminist Womanifesto is calling on the Ogun State Government to thoroughly investigate the sexual harassment allegation against the embattled Commissioner of Environment, Mr. Abiodun Abudu-Balogun by a 16-year-old girl, Ms. Barakat Melojuekun in the state.
The group put forth this demand on the strength of the state’s commitment to zero tolerance for violence against women.
A statement by the Executive Director Women Advocate Research and Documentation Centre, WARDC, Dr. Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, on behalf of the group wants further steps to be taken to ensure that investigation into the allegations is carried out thoroughly, and if found guilty, Mr. Abudu-Balogun be brought to justice.
The group warned, “If appropriate action is not taken by the State Government in response to this scandal, the inaction will be counterproductive and an own goal by the Government in light of the measures already taken by Ogun Government to end sexual violence.
It added: “In fact, it could be interpreted as a ploy to shield the Commissioner from the law and prevent him from paying for his crimes.”
The group stressed why a fact-finding is imperative, as it concerns a Commissioner in Ogun State Government that had taken novel and unprecedented steps in 2020 against Gender-Based Violence by inaugurating a Gender Based Violence Prohibition Committee to respond appropriately to any infraction of the law, as statutorily required by the Violence Against Women Prohibition Law of Ogun State, 2018.
Demanding for justice in the matter, Dr. Akiyode-Afolabi stated that the outcome will give credence to the state’s zero-tolerance commitment to sexual violence against women.
However, the group commended the Ogun State Government for its swift response to the matter by way of suspending the Commissioner.
“While this is laudable, it must not be allowed to end there.
“In furtherance of its commitment, the State Government adopted a Sex Offenders’ Register to record and publish names of sex offenders. Mr. Abudu-Balogun’s despicable act, therefore, is a textbook case of persistent disregard of the law by public officer holders who have sworn allegiance to the law.”