There was jubilation on Thursday at the Ogba Magistrates’ Court, Lagos State, over the release of a schoolteacher, Adewale Bakare, who was accused of child abuse.
The PUNCH gathered that the teacher had been remanded in Kirikiri Prison since May 4 before his bail application was granted.
However, his accuser, Mr Adebisi Arewa, in a telephone interview with our correspondent, faulted Bakare’s release on bail.
Teachers, parents, students and former students stormed the court premises as early as 7.30 am on Thursday, The PUNCH was told.
There was also jubilation on the premises of the school where Bakare teaches in the Sabo area of Lagos State after his release.
A jubilant crowd, who waited for Bakare’s arrival at the court for about two hours, carried placards and banners seeking the court to discharge the teacher.
While they sang victory songs, the teacher broke down in tears when he appeared from the Kirikiri’s vehicle that brought him.
Dressed in a red shirt and black trousers, Bakare thanked God and people for standing by him during his “trial and tough times”.
“Thank you, God, for helping me. Thank you, God, for not putting me to shame. You are my helper, only you deserved to be worshipped, God,” he cried as the jubilant crowd lifted him up.
Speaking with our correspondent, Arewa said that the case was adjourned when he went to court today.
According to him, Bakare’s bail application was not debated.
He said, “How can that be? There are so many loopholes. I cry for this country. Anyway, he can only be released on bail and not freed.”
There had earlier been protests over Arewa’s allegation that Bakare sexually abused his nine-year-old daughter on the school premises.
The protesters, comprising of educators, teachers, parents and former students, had protested on the premises of the Nigeria Bar Association, Lagos State Police Command and Lagos Governor’s Office.
The placard-carrying protesters argued that Bakare should not be kept in prison since the accuser failed to produce the victim for forensic tests or provide evidence.
They alleged that Bakare and his accuser earlier had an encounter over a parking space in the school but his accuser denied having any encounter with him.
Among the inscriptions on their placards are ‘say no to weaponised rape accusations’, ‘Lagos State, we say no to statistics, yes to justice’, ‘False accusation is a crime’, ‘rape is not a joke, do not accuse people to score a point’, and ‘rescue the Arewa girl’.
It was learnt that while in prison, Bakare’s wife delivered a pre-mature baby, who was kept in an incubator at a federal hospital in Lagos State.
48-year-old Bakare, who denied the allegations against him, had been a teacher for 21 years. He was a former principal of an international school where he worked for 10 years before joining Methodist Girls High School.
“It is noteworthy that Mr. Arewa has accused collectively more than five male and female teachers and aides of defiling his two daughters since 2019. As we speak, we have a teacher sentenced to life imprisonment in Kirikiri for allegedly defiling one of the daughters whom we shall call Miss O,” Bakare’s lawyer, Toyin Taiwo-Ojo had said.
During the protest, a child rights activist, Mr Saheed, urged the government and police to look thoroughly into the matter.
He said, “Prior to the arrest of Bakare, the Old Girls Association of the school organised a mentoring programme in the School Hall to celebrate the International Women’s Day on March 8, 2022. Arewa’s daughter was said to ask that ‘If you are being forced to do something you don’t want to do by your father, how can you stop it; and if you are being abused by your father, how can you run away from such?’.”
Arewa, however, denied the allegations, saying that the decision to conduct forensic interviews was ill-advised and precipitous.
He claimed that the teacher’s family, school, non-governmental organisations and former students are spreading false information about him and his daughters.
He also said evidence was provided in the case.
Arewa had said, “The survivor has been subjected to numerous ‘forensic interviews’ everywhere I was directed to take her, without my consent, beginning from Mirabel Centre and Domestic Violence Unit of the Lagos State Ministry of Justice; Ilupeju Division of the Nigerian Police Force and the Gender Unit of the Lagos State Police Command.
“All these interviews met the requirements of ‘forensic interviews’ because they were done in camera without my being in the same room with the survivor.
That ‘forensic interviews’ in itself is riddled with pitfalls, inadequacies and inanities too numerous to do an exhaustive list; it will however suffice to mention its most critical flaws.”
The PUNCH, however, gathered that the Lagos State Government has taken custody of the children.