It was during the controversy surrounding a popular Nigerian pastor who was accused of raping a teenager in 2001 that a video popped up showing Nigeria’s youngest senator slapping a nursing mother in a sex toy shop in Abuja.
The video, which was posted online early this week by local Nigerian media Premium Times, created an uproar on social media with the public calling for the head of 46-year-old Senator Elisha Abbo of Adamawa North.
The May 11, 2019 video showed Senator Abbo entering the sex toy shop in the Wuse 2 area of Abuja with three women to purchase sex toys at around 6 pm, local media report.
One of the women was reportedly vomiting in the shop and the senator accused the attendant of poisoning the air resulting in the woman’s illness. This started an argument and a policeman was reportedly called by the Senator to arrest the shop attendant.
A friend of the shop owner who was a nursing mother tried to intervene and she was slapped multiple times by the senator which were all captured by the shop’s cameras. Senator Abbo’s first reaction to the video was that the video had been doctored without denying the fact that he was at the scene on the said date.
The video sparked outrage on social media and the Nigerian Senate launched a probe into the action of Senator Abbo. President of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan, set up a seven- Member Ad-hoc Committee on Wednesday to investigate the incident and report back in two weeks.
This was immediately followed by a public apology from Senator Elisha Abbo who held a press conference on Wednesday pleading to Nigerians to forgive him for assaulting the nursing mother.
“It is with a deep sense of remorse and responsibility that I, Senator Ishaku Abbo profoundly apologise to all Nigerians, the Senate, the Peoples Democratic Party, my family, friends as well as our mothers – the Nigerian women.
“I personally apologize to Bibra and her family for my action towards her, which has brought immense discomfort in our body polity,” he is reported by Punch Nigeria to have apologized in tears.
“l have never been known or associated with such actions in the past. Regardless of what transpired prior to my expression of anger, I am sincerely sorry and plead that all men and women of good conscience should have the heart to forgive me. To err is human, to forgive is divine,” he added.
He was arrested by the police on Thursday for questioning and later granted bail on Friday.
The Senator’s abuse incident is one of the multiple abuse cases that trended on social media demanding justice.
That of Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo, the head pastor of the Commonwealth of Zion Assembly Church, COZA, in Abuja, who was accused by celebrity photographer Busola Dakolo of raping her in 2001 when she was a teenager has also resulted in the pastor stepping down.
In an interview with a local web portal YNaija, Busola explained that she used to live in Ilorin – in the South West of Nigeria – with her family. She had gone home for the holiday when she was introduced and convinced to join a new church gathering by her sisters.
Busola explained that she had gotten close to Pastor Biodun and he became like a mentor and a father figure whom she trusted. She claimed that he came to her house one Monday morning and did not utter a word but just pushed her to one of the chairs around.
“Immediately I opened the door, he just pushed me. He didn’t say anything. He didn’t utter any word. He just pushed me to one of the chairs in the living room and I saw him removing his belt. I was like what…? He said ‘keep quiet, do what I want you to do and you’ll be fine’,” Busola said. She further explained that when she tried to react, he covered her mouth and had his way. She even added that he tried to force his way several times and blood even dropped on the floor.
Mrs Dakolo is the second-high profile person after Ese Walter to accuse Fatoyinbo of rape.Social media mounted pressure on Pastor Biodun who announced his resignation from the pulpit. He said in a statement posted on Instagram that he was taking “leave of absence from the pulpit” because it was the “right thing to do”.
His decision follows a new #MeToo movement on social media with people sharing stories of sexual assault and calling for justice.