One of the kingmakers of Odo-Owa community in Oke-Ero Local Government Area of Kwara State, High Chief Bunmi Popoola, has been accused of raping a 27-year-old girl, simply identified as Joke, under the guise of curing her of an ailment. The victim’s mother, a business woman, Mrs. Bamidele Florence, accused the High Chief of raping her daughter, several times. Read more after the cut.
Joke, an Agricultural Science graduate of the state College of Education, Lafiagi, was reportedly afflicted with a strange disease in 2014 which defied orthodox medication. The mother of the victim told the Punch that her daughter was treated by doctors in many hospitals within and outside of the state, but the ailment could not be cured.
According to the report, Joke was brought to Popoola, a traditional healer in his community, for treatment, but Joke’s mother said a couple of days after her daughter’s arrival, the chief always used a handkerchief to wipe the private part of Joke any time he had sex with her and threatening her with death if she revealed what he did.
Narrating her daughter’s ordeal, Florence said, “Despite medical treatment, her health condition deteriorated. Popoola, who is my cousin, then said he could handle the case and get her cured. “Five days after he admitted Joke into his house, he told us he would need to perform rituals that would solve her health problem. He collected N50,000, one bag of rice, three big fowls. Around that time, the backache and stomach pains she was experiencing before then disappeared.
“So, after about five months, her condition became stable and she returned home. “I even reopened my foodstuff business in Omu-Aran and Joke later became sick again and also complained of severe pain in her private part but refused to go back to Popoola for treatment. I received a phone call from Popoola that Joke had to perform one last ritual for a permanent cure for her illness and he said there was a dire consequence for refusing to do it.
“I tried my best to persuade Joke to go back to Popoola to conclude her treatment but she still refused. When my daughter’s condition became life threatening, we consulted another herbalist in Egbe, Kogi State who told us Popoola was the source of my daughter’s problem.
“He told us that Popoola was a powerful herbalist and instantly washed his hands off her matter. When Joke was about to reveal what transpired between her and Popoola, she became dumb. We then gave her a pen and paper to write what was wrong with her but her right hand became paralysed.
“We later took her to a pastor for a prayer session. Then she was able to explain everything that happened to her in the house of Popoola. She said the herbalist had warned her that she would die if she ever told anyone about the sexual harassment.” Joke later died. “But before Joke died, I had reported the matter to the Olowa of Odo-Owa, Oba Joshua Adimula.
Speaking on the incident, the Olowa of Odo-Owa told the newspaper, “Some weeks ago, Gbemisola Bamidele came to me that the victim was about to reveal what Popoola, one my chiefs did to her, but that she suddenly became dumb. “I gave her water which my fore-father used and I also use for morning prayers and she talked again. She narrated how the chief slept with her when she was in his custody receiving treatment.
“I summoned Popoola. Joke also repeated the allegations in the presence of Popoola, but he did not deny it, so I instructed him to cure the deceased and he promised to do so, but he later refused when he left the palace. The youth in the community took the girl to his house. Unfortunately, the girl died in his custody.
“We reported the matter to the Divisional Police Officer in Oke-Ero. He was then arrested. This is not the first time Popoola would be suspended over such an issue. He was suspended last year for six months over a similar allegation levelled against him by one Gbemisola Amile of Oke Esi Compound in Odo-Owa but I was able to save the victim.
“During his suspension, he committed another crime, which was reported by one Titilayo Kolawole of Ikotun Compound. I couldn’t do anything about it because he was under suspension,” the Olowa stated.
Confirming the report, the state Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Ajayi Okasanmi, said he had been informed of the allegation against Popoola of having sexual relationship with Joke, who went to him for treatment.
Okasanmi said, “I was told that the herbalist had been having an affair with the lady. But after sometime, the woman failed to continue with the relationship and she died. “We are still investigating the case to know if it is one that can be handled by police as the law does not believe in juju,” the PPRO stated.