OrderPaperToday – Remember the viral video of a senator-elect being beaten and dragged on the ground for an alleged attempt to rape the wife of a politician in Nasarawa State? That shameful show drew outrage and dominated public discussions especially on social media for days. It squarely put the senator-elect, Godiya Akwashiki, in sordid light in the eyes of the public.
The Nigeria police, which took over the matter, promised an investigation and resolution. But over three months since the episode broke, nothing has been heard of the investigation prompting OrderPaper Nigeria to undertake a detailed trail to bring the world up to speed with what exactly happened. Reporting by Lizzy Chirkpi
The viral sex video of a senator-elect…
The impact was immediate. In a matter of hours, Mr. Godiya Akwashiki, incumbent deputy speaker of the Nasarawa State House of Assembly and freshly elected senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, was trending in social media as an alleged rapist caught in the act. The video was graphic and gory with blood spilt all over his body even as a cacophony of wild voices launched invectives in vernacular. The soon-to-be distinguished senator had been instantly tagged a sinner and the stones were hurled at him mercilessly. The mob however submitted to the Nigeria police as the matter was reported to the Maitama police station for further action. But that was the last that was heard of the case and like much else in Nigeria, public excitement and discourse shifted to some other drama in the polity.
But pertinent questions remain: Three months after the viral video and police intervention, what has happened to the investigation? What has nobody been charged for the alleged offence and the embarrassing mob action? Who is Godiya Akwashiki? Who is Umar Danladi Evuluanza, the ‘powerful’ politician who had the guts and clout to subject a high-ranking official of government and a freshly promoted ‘honourable’ to such demeaning public spectacle? What was the real motive behind the drama and why silence on the matter so far? Has it been swept under the carpet in the typical Nigerian manner?
This mini documentary on the OrderPaperNG investigation is quite revealing.
It would be recalled in the viral video that Mr. Evuluanza, a former secretary of the National Judicial Council (NJC), could be heard talking in the background, according to those familiar with actors in the clip. The senator-elect could also be heard begging for pardon from the people assaulting him. Mr. Akwashiki was later handed over to the police station in Maitama, Abuja, Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Confession under duress?
OrderPaperNG gathered that the accuser, Mr. Evuluanza in his statement, reportedly told the police that Godiya Akwashiki was caught trying to rape his wife at a pre-arranged rendezvous and in the process got accosted by angry youths who beat him up.
But while giving his statement, the accused reportedly confessed to engaging in the act alleged against him. But an inside police source familiar with the investigation informed that an abnormal behavior was observed while taking the confessional statement as “it is unusual for a suspect to answer all questions in the affirmative even before being asked in clear terms.” According to the source who craved anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the matter, “it was clear that the man was under serious duress and this became clear to us when the police team saw the nude video online.”
The source continued: “In taking the senator’s statement surprisingly he agreed to all the allegations leveled against him but the officers became curious at the abnormal manner in which he was talking as if he was drugged or something.” In furtherance of the investigation, the police later took Mr. Evuluanza and his wife, who was the alleged subject of rape, into custody. It was this point that it became clear to the Maitama police folks that the matter had a larger connotation with powerful interests clawing in.
“Some big people immediately began to call for the release of the accuser because by this time we had suspected foul play,” said the source further. Soon after however, the pressure paid off and the matter was transferred to the FCT police command and subsequently to the Force headquarters as the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Adamu, was said to have spoken to the senator-elect and assured of a thorough investigation after which culprits would be brought to book.
OrderPaperNG corroborated this when during a visit to the accused in his home in Lafia, the senator-elect pleaded not to speak on the matter due to a high level intervention.
Genesis of the crisis…
In the course of investigation however, it was discovered that both Akwashiki and Evuluanza belonged to the same political party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and hail from Mada district under Nasarawa Eggon local government area of Nasarawa state. Interestingly, they contested for the Nasarawa state governorship position on the platform of APC but were asked to step down to pave way for the current governor to emerge. While Mr. Akwashiki was said to have heeded the party’s advice and was compensated with a senatorial ticket Evuluanza proceeded to contest the governorship primary and lost to the incumbent. The former therefore gained political advantage over the latter, a development which appeared to have triggered Mr. Evuluanza’s angst against a political rival thus setting the stage for what those spoken to in this story termed a set up.
Journey to Mada District…
Barely a week after the viral video hit public space, an OrderPaperNG crew left Abuja for Nasarawa to investigate the background of both men. The crew which had earlier paid visits to the alleged crime scene in Maitama, proceeded to Mada station under Nasarawa Eggon local government area headquarters in a journey on motorbike from Nasarawa Eggon that lasted for over two hours. On arrival at Mada Station, the district head, Mr. Musa Aliyu had a lot to say about the incident and the character of both men. In a no-holds barred interview, he was categorical that Akwashiki was a victim of a set up and nothing more. Hear him: “I know Godiya Akwashiki, the senator-elect and Umar Danladi Evuluanza very well. They are all my sons in this Mada district. I was told of the incident (viral video) on Saturday and immediately I went to Lafia to see Godiya Akwashiki because that’s where he resides. When i got there I saw him but he said he was not feeling fine that whenever he is better he would come and tell me everything that happened. He told me not to entertain any fears despite the accusation by Evuluanza family. I know Godiya very well since when he was a young man in this community here doing his petrol business. I trust him completely.”
He continued: ” I’m not siding (taking sides with) Godiya because I have benefitted from him; I knew him as an ordinary citizen when he used to sell petrol before he contested for house of assembly and won, so I’m not being biased. I have never had any negative complain about him, nobody has come to report him that he was sleeping with their wives as far as this community is concerned.
“However, I can’t say same for Alhaji Umar Evuluanza who had a clash with one Alhaji Yusuf Mada that he (Evuluanza) sent thugs to go and burn down his house and the matter was reported to Nasarawa Eggon local government and I was appointed to settle the dispute. In fact, I did settle the matter amicably and at the end they were all happy. Umar has brought shame on me and the entire community and I want to assure the whole world that Godiya did nothing (as alleged in the video). It is just a set up for political reasons.
“Again, let me tell you something: the same Evuluanza aspired for governorship of the State and he lost out in the primaries and then I gathered all the elders in my cabinet to go sympathize with him but when I got there he said he doesn’t want to see my face or have anything to do with me so we left.”
Apart from the paramount ruler of Mada district, OrderPaperNG also spoke to some youths in the locality to ascertain the attributes of both feuding politicians and their impressions of what happened. Most of the respondents doubted the allegation contained in the video and expressed anger and disappointment with those who masterminded the act.
One Francis John from Mada district had this to say: “I was surprised when I saw that video but I don’t believe Hon. Godiya Akwashiki can do such a thing. We know him very well and he would never do such a thing and we have never heard any complain of him having affairs with another man’s wife. He is a very good man and he is representing us well at the house of assembly”.
Another member of the community, Agim Kabiru, described the senator-elect as a very good man who has never been found wanting in public life. He said: “I know Hon. Godiya Akwashiki, he is the Deputy Speaker of Nasarawa state House of Assembly representing us. He has done a lot for our people, even the transformer and the borehole you are seeing over there (pointing) and other communities around here were done by him. He even provided electricity for us. So I find it very hard to believe that a good person as him would do such a thing. As regards the video and the accusation against him I don’t believe, all I know is that was set up”.
Too bruised to talk…
Having heard from the community chief who has traditional jurisdiction over both men as well as some local voices, the OrderPaperNG crew went to Lafia, the State capital of Nasarawa where the senator-elect resides. He declined to speak on camera but said security agencies were already investigating and that his party, the APC and President Muhammadu Buhari had already waded into the issue. “At the right time the whole world would know the truth,” he muttered in a subdued tone that confirmed that he had gone through a lot of trauma.
The crew also reached out to a colleague of Akwashiki in the House of Assembly who craved anonymity but was emphatic that nothing would come out of the matter due to the powerful forces involved. The lawmaker said: “This whole thing is just frame up to end the political career of the deputy speaker who happens to come from the same village as the accuser, Umar Danladi Evuluanza. The Akwashiki we know would not do such a thing. But there’s one thing I want to emphasize here, nothing would come out of this case because everybody is afraid of Umar. He has been terrorizing the state for a very long time. Though, the governor (now ex-governor Tanko Al-makura) is not happy with the development but there’s nothing he can do because they are all afraid of Umar”.
What is the police up to?
So three months and still counting with nothing being heard of the matter, OrderPaperNG took the queries to the Police to update on the state of its investigation.
The Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO), Mr. Frank Mba, who was contacted, said the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Police command was in charge of the case. “I will advise you speak with the commissioner of police in charge of FCT. They are the ones handling the case,” he said. But when the FCT Police Public Relation Officer (PPRO), Mr. Anjuguri Menzah, was contacted he said: “I have not been on ground, I am currently attending a course however I will make enquiries and get back to you.” Several attempts including SMS reminders were sent to him which were not replied as at time of publishing.
All efforts to get Mr. Evuluanza for his side of the story proved abortive as well.
A sinner senator or persecuted politician?
Barely days before Mr. Akwashiki is sworn into office as a senator of the Federal Republic, the image and story the world has of him is that of a viral video with disturbing content. How long will he carry this damaging baggage? Has the matter been swept under the carpet? Answers are surely required to on one hand determine the veracity of the charge against Akwashiki and on the other hand, clear doubts about the moral standing of those holding high public office in the land.