The Osun-based cleric, Habeebulah AbdulRahman, who allegedly raped a 16-year-old girl in 2019, has been charged to court for the second time.
Although the matter was initially settled out of court, the cleric was rearraigned on Wednesday following a series of follow-up reports by this newspaper and pressure from rights groups.
PREMIUM TIMES, in July last year, exclusively reported how Mr Abdulrahman, (popularly known as Al-Edewy), was accused of raping a student of his Islamic school.
In response, Mr Abdulrahman told PREMIUM TIMES that the teenager is his wife and he had the right to have sexual intercourse with her.
The victim, born in 2003, lost her dad at a young age and stays with her mother in Ede, a town in Osun State. She recently completed her junior secondary education in the town.
The Islamic scholar, after a while, requested her hand in marriage. The girl, on several occasions, rejected the proposal. However, Mr Abdulrahman persisted until he reportedly raped her.
He was, thereafter, arraigned on a three-count charge of abduction “of a young girl to an unknown destination to have carnal knowledge of her and indecent assault by touching”.
Mr Abdulrahman was granted bail with the condition of providing a level 12 civil servant who owns a landed property- a condition which he met. He was freed afterwards.
Following this newspaper’s report, the family and our correspondent continued to face pressure and threats from unknown individuals who warned against further reports on the incident.
After much pressure, members of the victim’s family shared dissenting views on the settlement of the issue.
While some believed that an out-of-court settlement is a welcome development, others said the matter should be treated as a criminal case and justice should prevail.
The victim later vowed to commit suicide if her family accepts an offer to settle the matter out of court.
The proposed settlement included that the accused admits to committing the offence and tenders an unreserved apology, which he did.
In January, this journalist was invited by police after he was accused of publishing ‘fake’ report about the personality of the cleric.
In the petition against this reporter, Mr Abdulrahman denied granting any interview to PREMIUM TIMES, a claim which differs from his position when he was in the police custody, where he had affirmed that the reporter ‘disturbed’ him on several occasions.
After spending six hours in the zonal headquarters in Osogbo, the reporter was released with a promise to formally invite him through the newspaper management.
Meanwhile, weeks after the invitation, the police has not gotten back to PREMIUM TIMES.
On Wednesday, the cleric was arraigned for indecent assault punishable under section 358 of the criminal code.
In the charge sheet made available to PREMIUM TIMES, he was arraigned on a two-count charge unlawful carnal knowledge and indecent assault against the teenager.
According to Section 358 and 359 of the Criminal Code Act- part five, “anyone who commits the offence of rape is liable to life imprisonment; while attempt to commit the offence is felonious and such offender is liable to 14-year imprisonment”.
Also, Section 31 of the Child Rights Act 2003 stipulates that a person who commits an offence of ‘defilement’ is liable on conviction to life imprisonment.
Although yet to be domesticated in 11 other states, the Osun State government has passed the Child Rights Act into law.