Press Releases

Busola Dakolo v. Biodun Fatoyinbo: Centre For Human Rights & Good Governance (CHRG)

The above-named group, a pan-African initiative for collaborative efforts in the entrenchment of human & people’s rights, good governance and the promotion of civic rights and responsibilities have deemed it appropriate to react to a municipal ruling in the case of Busola Dakolo v. Biodun Fatoyinbo.

We have taken the following positions having consulted our group of lawyers within and without Nigeria on the recent ruling of the court in line with what best represents a semblance of justice thence.

  1. That the learned judge, and thus the court, erred by failing to entertain the substantive suit on claims of its action being statute-barred.
  2. That the court indeed failed to show sound legal reasoning for its disposition to the suit as a claim for a continuous injurious can not be overtaken by time.
  3. The duty of a court is not to award justice on technicalities but to see that justice is done to the substantive suit always. Rules of courts were made to ease the proceedings of the court and not bar the attainment of justice.
  4. The Busola Dakolo case affords the ?? courts an opportunity to set a judicial precedent on continuous injuries which is an unravelling tort already enjoying judicial pronouncements in advanced legal systems- an opportunity seemingly missed but that may enjoy review on appeal.
Consequent on the foregoing, we extend our best wishes to the Mrs Busola Dakolo and commend her courage and resilience having to face off against a clearly odious legal system.
Mrs Busola Dakolo represents the new crop of women finding not just their voice but setting a new standard in our socio-cultural set-up as a nation. Her boldness is admirable and thus commendable.
While we hold no brief on her behalf, we encourage her to hold on to her conviction and faith in the legal system as this is clearly one ruling away from eventual judicial justice on this matter.
In the same vein, we enjoin the defendants to embody the nobility of his calling and take this judicial opportunity to silence his critics by answering to the substantive suit against him rather than seeking pyrrhic victories in court technicalities.
We take this opportunity to call on the Nigeria Police Force to make public its findings on the investigations undertaken in the Busola Dakolo matter. Unfolding legal drama makes their report expedient in the interest of equity and justice.
The courts are also admonished not to stay the hands of justice on account of clout or patronage. Justice and public interest must sway its rulings accordingly as its actions would go a long way to encourage other victims of sexual abuse to seek judicial review of their ordeals.
We will continue to understudy the unfolding intrigues in this matter with a view to calling public attention to the inherent flaws in it while commending those court actions that are in tune with justice.”

Thank you.

Odey Patrick, Esq.,
Regional Director,

Press Releases

Let’s clear up some misconceptions about the Busola Dakolo’s case – Imoran

I go through it & hopefully stem the tide of misinformation. This is going to be long.
On 27 June 2019, Busola’s interview with Chude Jideonwo was released on YouTube. In the interview, she movingly and, to many of us, convincingly spoke of her 2002 ordeal with Biodun Fatoyinbo.
She spoke of how, on 2 different occasions, in September 2002, Biodun forcefully had sexual relations with her in circumstances where she did not give consent. The legal term for what occured in each encounter is rape. But this thread is not about rape.
Rape is a criminal matter and it is for the police to investigate and see to it that the prosecution has enough to build a case on. Sometime in July earlier this year, the matter was reported to the police, who opened an investigation on the rape allegations.
On 6 Sept, a civil suit was initiated against Fatoyinbo. This was not a criminal case & it was NOT a case of rape. But it was predicated on the same facts of the alleged rape. It was a case of intentional infliction of emotional distress. This is described as tort, a civil wrong.
For the wrong to be established, however, there has to be more than an implicit acceptance of what caused the emotional distress. Indeed, one of the things Busola asked the court to do was to declare that Biodun violated her.
That he deliberately and forcefully had non-consensual sexual intercourse with her (I’ll use ‘violate’ and ‘violation’ to describe these heinous acts) and that this violation has caused her and continues to cause her emotional distress.
It is important to state here for those who are not legally-minded & who might think less of anyone who does not explicitly call out the actions as rape, that within the confines of the civil suit, rape does not feature & the lawyers carefully drafted the case with that in mind.
Had the court dismissed the preliminary objection and gone ahead with the substantive case, and concluded with a declaration that Biodun violated Busola, this would NOT have established to the criminal standard that it was beyond all reasonable doubt that Biodun raped Busola.
The court’s declaration would have been a statement that, on the preponderance of the evidence, it was more likely than not that Biodun violated Busola & inflicted emotional distress on her. When something is more likely to have happened, doubts may linger whether it happened or not.
But for the sake of a civil suit, where the freedom or life of the defendant is not at stake, those doubts are dispelled if, on balance, the event in question is a mere 51/49 in favour of it to have happened.
What this means is that someone may be found not guilty of a crime because the level of proof is high and the prosecution fails to meet that burden, but the same person, on the same set of facts, may be found liable in civil proceedings.
This might still seem like a mystery to many, so I’ll try to use an example. The example I usually give to clarify this is the OJ Simpson case. For those not familiar with it, please do a Google search.
OJ Simpson was found not guilty of the murder his ex, Nicole Brown-Simpson. But he was later found liable in the civil court and ordered to pay $20 million to the deceased’s family.
In a criminal case, the prosecution is required to prove to such an extent that all doubts (not just any silly doubt) are dispelled. If you’ve spent time on Twitter, you’ll know that, even for obvious things, people raise silly excuses/reason why something isn’t what it appears to be.
The law is not concerned with silly doubts. The term used is reasonable doubt. All reasonable questions about whether the accused committed the alleged crime is to be answered & there should be no reasonable doubt that the accused has committed the alleged crime. It’s a high standard.
In a civil case, it is not so high. A matter is proved if the court is satisfied the evidence shows that, although one cannot say with full certainty that the facts have been established, there is enough to decide which of the competing facts is more likely the truth or truer.
Let’s bring that theoretical underpinning to the Busola fact scenario: If, after considering all the available evidence, the court finds that Busola’s account rings truer than Biodun’s denial, then the court will find that the allegation that Biodun violated Busola is proven.
Again, let’s be clear here. That is not proof of rape, which has to be proven to a higher criminal standard. Note the use of the word violated.
I have taken time to go through the standards of proof because it is easy to be confused by the fact that a civil suit is predicated on the same facts as a rape allegation. But the civil suit is not to be treated in like manner as the rape allegation.
Even a jurist could get carried away. Indeed, this was what happened in the ruling delivered in the Busola case on 14 November 2019.
As elementary as the distinction is between rape and what Busola’s lawyers were asking the court to declare, the learned judge just couldn’t get his mind off the rape allegation.
In his ruling, he expressed the view that Busola’s case was proceeding on the back of rape & no matter how he subsequently, and in my view, tenuously & disingenuously, claimed to restrict himself to the civil part of the claim, he had prejudiced himself with the criminal element.
Now, let’s move on to how this case proceeded once it was initiated on 6 September 2019.
As elementary as the distinction is between rape and what Busola’s lawyers were asking the court to declare, the learned judge just couldn’t get his mind off the rape allegation.
In his ruling, he expressed the view that Busola’s case was proceeding on the back of rape & no matter how he subsequently, and in my view, tenuously & disingenuously, claimed to restrict himself to the civil part of the claim, he had prejudiced himself with the criminal element.
One of the misconceptions about the court’s ruling was that it was a determination of the merits of the case. There was the regular crew of people who jumped to the conclusion that Busola lied. There were those who appeared sympathetic but thought she just couldn’t prove her claim.
The court did not actually consider the main issue brought before it. Let’s assess why this was the case.
Rather than come clean to court to defend the allegations against him, as anyone claiming to be innocent would do, Biodun and his lawyers decided to go tactical.
On 20 September 2019, they filed a Notice of Preliminary Objection. Why face the music when you can have the case thrown out on a technicality before it is heard? The technicality deployed as a preliminary objection by Biodun’s legal advisers is something called limitation.
To describe how this works, I’ll call in aid the words of 2 renowned jurists, Lord Denning & Diplock.
It is believed that if a case happened long ago, especially cases that involve disputed oral evidence, then it becomes hard to do justice to it if too much time has passed.
The public policy reasons for this are things like the fact that witnesses might not remember things clearly and evidence might have been lost.
Biodun’s lawyers argued that in line with s8(1) and (2) of the Limitation Act of the Law of the Federal Capital Territory 2006, the cut-off point for the case was 3 years. Failure to bring the case within 3 years of the date of the wrongdoing means it has become statute-barred.
Alternatively, his lawyers argued that the case was covered by s7(4) of the same Act which has a 6-year cut-off period. The incident happened on Sept 02, so the cut-off point was either Sept 05 or Sep 08. In either case, if the statute is applicable, Busola’s case cannot be heard.
But this limitation rule, as with most legal rules, has exceptions. One such exception which Busola’s lawyers argued was that in cases of continuing wrongs, the limitation does not apply. They sought support for their position in the case of Aremo II v Adekanye.
They argued that because Busola continues to suffer emotional distress there can be no cut-off point by which to limit her claim.
They also argued that when Biodun denied in his press release that he violated Busola, that act of denial constituted a fresh infliction of emotional distress & the date of the press release was another trigger point in addition to the continuing impact of the Sept 02 violation.
Biodun’s lawyers responded to the continuing injury point with Obiefuna v Okoye 1961, Nwankwo v Nwankwo 2017 & INEC v Ogbadibo 2016, all of which suggest the continuance of injury means the continuance of legal injury & not merely continuance of the injurious effect of the legal injury.
One would think the 14 November ruling would address these two contentions, but rather bizarrely, the judge was completely silent on this point. The continuing injury exception is a key basis upon which Busola’s case was advanced and the judge curiously left it unaddressed.
This, for me, amongst other weaknesses, is where the Court of Appeal will fault the judge’s decision. It is, however, difficult to tell where the Court of Appeal will ultimately swing, even if they find the silent omission by the judge to be fatally erroneous.
Does the case of Aremo II v Adekanye assist Busola or does her case founder in the face of the holding in Obiefuna v Okoye? This will now be for the Court of Appeal to decide. Fingers crossed, people. There might have been a delay in this case but this delay might not be a denial.
Press Releases

FOR THE RECORDS: COZA Pastor, Biodun Fatoyinbo Statement After Court Threw Away Busola Dakolo’s Case Against Him

“The victory is of the Lord. We dedicate it to those who stand by us. The victory belongs to God, not to me or COZA. We will not share in His glory. The enemies are after the Church and not after me per se.
“They only used me as a scapegoat to launch the attacks. We know that faithful is He who has called us.
“I salute the courage and the support of my beautiful and godly wife, my lovely children, members of COZA family and those who stand by us.
“May God be praised in your life. I bear no grudge against those who were used by the adversary of the Church but instead, I pray for them that we should come together to fight the common enemies of the Church.
“My soul goes to men who are wrongly accused and women who are or have been abused. May God heal the wounds of everyone of us in Jesus Name,” he quoted the Pastor as saying.
Press Releases

We are surprised that Fatoyinbo preferred to hide under the claim that the matter happened long ago- Gender Mobile Initiative

We at Gender Mobile have taken cognizance of the decision of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory which sat in Bwari on Busola Dakolo’s case against Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo and we condemn in strong terms the totality of the court’s decision.
The court’s refusal to assume jurisdiction on the matter is a monumental concern to the future of our judiciary. Further to this is the award of 1 million naira against Busola which is a decision capable of institutionalizing the culture of silence.
We opine that in a matter of a tort of Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress- which is indeed a continuous tort by nature & thus an exception to the limitation law, the court’s decision that the matter is out of time does not serve the interest of justice and poorly reflects the spirit of the law in this matter. We expected the court to set in motion a proper adjudicatory process by inviting parties to testify on oath to lead a proper trial aimed at delivering justice in line with its constitutional mandate.
We are also worried and surprised that Fatoyinbo preferred to rather hide under the claim that the matter happened long ago thus failing or refusing to avail himself the opportunity to defend himself once and for all before the court.
His objection that the action is out of time in itself does not attempt to deny the allegation levied against him but rather evades it. Questions are arising, the court is not willing to seek answers to these questions but they cannot be wished away.
We advise Biodun Fatoyinbo not to rejoice as he has not been vindicated yet by the court.
We further advise him to submit himself to a proper trial in court if he is truly convinced of his innocence rather than hide behind technicalities to avoid answering to the substantive claim against him.
For justice to prevail for the sake of the parties involved and the watching world, the real issue of what transpired between Mr Biodun Fatoyinbo and the claimant, Mrs Busola Dakolo, must be allowed to have its full day in court.
Anything short of this is legal dressing and an implicit admission of guilt on the pastor’s part.”
Omowumi Ogunrotimi,
Executive Director,
Gender Mobile Initiative.
Press Releases

PRESS STATEMENT: ‘COZA Pastor, Biodun Fatoyinbo Has Not Been Exonerated’

We have received several calls after the ruling of the high court of the Federal Capital Territory sitting at Bwari this morning seeking our view on the decision of the court, hence, this statement.
The court ruled that the matter is statute-barred because the events that crystallised to the cause of action took place 16 years ago and that the claimant Mrs Busola Dakolo has only six years within which to seek redress in court in line with the statute of limitation.
We are mindful of the decision as delivered by the court, presided over by the Hon. Justice A.O Musa.
We are equally observant of the fact that the Court omitted to address the cause of action, the subject matter of the suit in determining whether it has jurisdiction to entertain the said matter.
While we acknowledge the time of the court, we know in accordance with the Nigerian judicial system that the Court’s decision is not final as it is glaringly contestable.
For all intent and purposes, having seen several sponsored misleading news reports in the media, we are duty-bound to state that the court has not and did not exonerate Biodun Fatoyinbo. As it stands, the substance of the matter has not received any judicial attention.
Biodun Fatoyinbo through his lawyers has only argued that the court should not allow the matter to proceed to trial because it is an event that occurred long ago and hence out of time.
We shall therefore in this circumstance approach a superior court to intervene for a better appreciation, and take a more expansive view of the suit considering that the subject matter is one that is novel in our clime.”