SWITZERLAND, JULY 27 – The dust is yet to settle in the unfolding online conflict between human rights lawyer and social media activist, Segun Awosanya, known as Segalink, and members of the Stand to End Rape (STER) movement, including popular feminist journalist, Kiki Mordi.
The ongoing social media battle between Segalink and Mordi is a spin-off from a much serious issue – Seyitan Babatayo’s allegation that prominent entertainment personality, Dapo Oyebanjo, known as D’Banj, raped her in a hotel room back in December 2018, and is trying to get away with it by abducting and threatening her.
In the wake of renewed focus on rape victims, Babatayo came out with her story on June 3, 2020, narrating the tragic details of the brutality she allegedly suffered from D’Banj. Today’s Echo and other media outlets reported Babatayo’s story, which immediately sparked outrage across the country. D’Banj denied the allegations and slammed a defamation lawsuit against Babatayo.
The public was further enraged when Babatayo came accused D’Banj’s team of unleashing security agents against her, abducting her and forcing her to make false statements.
Things got even more complicated after D’Banj’s former manager, Franklin Amuda, revealed new chilling details on what he knew about the rape allegation against the music star in a story that was reported by Today’s Echo.
Some people have argued that, after murder, rape is the biggest crime and should be met with the stiffest punishment imaginable. It is the deepest violation of a human’s right- the right to their body. Victims often suffer long periods of trauma with a distorted personality and some do not survive it.
Equally, a wrong accusation of rape is so traumatizing that it ruins the victims for life, sometimes causing them to commit suicide. Many men have been accused of rape in the past, with their alleged victim later coming out to confess that they had lied.
However, rape is also probably the hardest crime to prove, especially when both alleged victim and perpetrator have solid motives to hurt each other. A celebrity can be framed by a young, beautiful socialite who is interested in courting public attention. Likewise, a powerful man can take advantage of a beautiful lady simply because he believed he could get away with it, either by bribing or threatening her. Both narratives could be true in this case and that is why it is important for the society to know the truth. Nevertheless, under the law, D’Banj remains innocent until proven guilty.
The distraction began when Babatayo dropped the charges against D’Banj, after the police said they have been unable to establish a case of rape against the musician, In a letter dated July 17, 2020 addressed to the Inspector-General of Police through her lawyer, Olamide Omileye, she said she was withdrawing from the case for personal reasons.
Immediately, STER, which had been championing Babatayo’s cause, issued a statement, regretting the development while alleging that Segalink had reached out to the alleged victim for a settlement with D’Banj.
Segalink, who was later revealed as an earlier supporter of the movement, came out on Saturday to slam members of the STER movement, calling them a ‘feminist coven’ and accusing them of pursuing a personal agenda that does not even help the case of the alleged victim. According to Segalink, members of the STER movement were threatening the alleged victim for dropping the charges. He insisted that their plan was to ruin D’Banj and make some money out of it. He specifically accused award-winning journalist, Kiki Mordi, who had exposed lecturers harassing university students for sex, of being a ‘hit man’ in STER’s agenda.
“I do urge all individuals and organizations within the social development space to always stand for the truth and mirror the interest of an affected party/victim of abuse in their words and actions at all times,” he said in one of his numerous tweets on the issue.
While STER has been largely silent concerning Segalink’s accusations on social media, Kiki Mordi has defended herself against his diatribes. She has launched her own counterattack, accusing Segalink of deceit and betrayal, and playing a two-faced game in which he supported the movement offline and went ahead to berate them online. She later posted an audio recording of a conversation she had with Segalink where they discussed how to help Miss Babatayo. Mordi insisted she stands by all her words and it was Segalink.
“SEGALINK put my life at risk when he tweeted lies against me to his about half a million followers. Since then I have received: Death threats, Doctored tweets,” she said in one of her numerous tweets. She insisted Segalink must show proof that she issued ‘death threats’ against him.
“You must show me the threatening message I sent to you or any other person my dear friend and brother @segalink,” she said in another viral tweet.
The current social media macabre dance has taken the complete attention of the public off the main issue, a case that threatens to ruin the life of either the accuser or the accused. In the midst of the melee, we have forgotten to ask the right questions, we have left the main and chased the minor.
We urge the government, law enforcement agents and Civil Society Organizations to insist on further investigation of the incident, in a manner that does not expose the two parties to public trial as has been the case. We also urge the public to focus on the real issue and not the distractions going on in the social media. The public must know the truth, otherwise, the outcome will set up a wrong precedence and we would not have learnt any lesson from it.
Whatever happens at the end of the day, either D’Banj, or Babatayo may be scarred for life if the truth is not unveiled.