The police in Abuja have shown interest in the rape allegations levelled against COZA Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo, however, they would require a formal complaint of wrongdoing against him, before they could take criminal action against him.
Police commissioner Bala Ciroma told PREMIUM TIMES on Saturday that the police usually require complaints from victims or witnesses or both to proceed with rape charges.
“They should file a formal complaint,” Mr Ciroma said. “And then the police can see how to proceed from there.”
Mr Fatoyinbo, the founder and senior preacher of the Commonwealth of Zion Assembly (COZA), has been a subject of public derision since Friday morning when a video interview in which a woman, Busola Dakolo, accused him of raping her, was published online.
Although it is not clear whether the Dakolos have reported the matter to the police, they are now asking for the victims to come forward with complaints.
Rape allegations are considered grievous under Nigeria’s federal and state laws, and could attract long sentences for anyone convicted.
The Child Rights Act (2003) set 18 as the age of consent at federal level, but several states have amended the law before domesticating it, including Kwara which sets consent at 16 years.
Even though the Kwara State Child Rights Act sets 16 as the age of consent, prosecutors would have to put up a formidable argument to categorise the alleged incident as a child rape because it appeared to have taken place before 2007, according to Victor Okhai, a criminal justice expert
Mr Okhai said rape, as with most criminal charges, can prove particularly challenging for prosecutors to establish in court.
“It may require the victim, witnesses, marks and even forensic analysis nowadays,” Mr Okhai told PREMIUM TIMES.
Mr Okhai also said the police may take up the matter, even without a formal complaint from the Dakolos or other potential victims. “If the police have a reasonable basis to suspect that a wrongdoing might have been committed, then they can move in without a complainant,” Mr Okhai said.“Just like in Naira Marley’s case: nobody made a formal complaint, but the anti-graft EFCC arrested him and charged him to caught for Internet fraud.”