A business woman, Mrs. Florence Bamidele, has accused one of the kingmakers of Odo-Owa community in Oke-Ero Local Government Area of Kwara State, High Chief Bunmi Popoola, of raping her 27-year-old daughter, Joke, many times under the guise of curing her of an ailment.
Saturday PUNCH learnt that Joke, who was brought to Popoola for traditional treatment, later succumbed to the strange disease.
The woman accused the chief, said to be a traditional healer in his community, of using a handkerchief to wipe the private part of Joke any time he had sex with her and threatening her with death if she should reveal what he did.
It was learnt that Joke, an Agricultural Science graduate of the Kwara State College of Education, Lafiagi, in her 20s, was afflicted with a strange disease in 2014 which defied all medical diagnosis.
According to Bamidele, her daughter was treated by doctors in many hospitals within and outside of the state, but the ailment could not be cured.
She stated that the family spent a lot of money trying to get the sick girl treated.
“Despite medical treatment, her health condition deteriorated. Popoola, who is my cousin, then said he could handle the case and get her cured. Five days after he admitted Joke into his house, he told us he would need to perform rituals that would solve her health problem. He collected N50,000, one bag of rice, three big fowls,” Bamidele said.
According to the woman, around that time, the backache and stomach pains her daughter was experiencing before then disappeared.
“After about five months, her condition became stable and she returned home. She even reopened her foodstuff business in Omu-Aran,”
Bamidele said Joke later became sick again and also complained of severe pain in her private part but refused to go back to Popoola for treatment.
Her mother said she received a phone call from Popoola that Joke had to perform one last ritual for a permanent cure for her illness and said there was a dire consequence for refusing to do it.
Bamidele said she tried her best to persuade Joke to go back to Popoola to conclude her treatment but she still refused flatly.
She said, “When my daughter’s condition became life threatening, we consulted another herbalist in Egbe, Kogi State who told us Popoola was the source of my daughter’s problem. He told us that Popoola was a powerful herbalist and instantly washed his hands off her matter.
“When Joke was about to reveal what transpired between her and Popoola, she became dumb. We then gave her a pen and paper to write what was wrong with her but her right hand became paralysed.
“We later took her to a pastor for a prayer session. Then she was able to explain everything that happened to her in the house of Popoola. She said the herbalist had warned her that she would die if she ever told anyone about the sexual harassment.”
Joke later died.
Saturday PUNCH learnt that before Joke died, Bamidele had reported the matter to the Olowa of Odo-Owa, Oba Joshua Adimula.When he was contacted, the monarch said that Popoola had admitted to the crime while being interrogated in his palace.
“Some weeks ago, Gbemisola Bamidele came to me that the victim was about to reveal what Popoola, one my chiefs did to her, but that she suddenly became dumb.
“I gave her water which my fore-father used and I also use for morning prayers and she talked again. She narrated how the chief slept with her when she was in his custody receiving treatment.
Oba Adimula said he summoned Popoola and instructed him to cure the deceased.
According to him, the victim also repeated the allegations in the presence of Popoola, but the high chief did not deny it.
According to him, the matter was later reported to the Divisional Police Officer in Oke-Ero.
The traditional ruler said he later suspended Popoola from the Owa Olota-in-council as this was not the first time he allegedly engaged in gross misconduct.
He said, “I ordered him to treat the girl and he promised to do so, but he later refused when he left the palace. The youth in the community took the girl to his house. Unfortunately, the girl died in his custody. He was then arrested.
“This is not the first time Popoola would be suspended over such an issue. He was suspended last year for six months over a similar allegation levelled against him by one Gbemisola Amile of Oke Esi Compound in Odo-Owa but I was able to save the victim.
“During his suspension, he committed another crime, which was reported by one Titilayo Kolawole of Ikotun Compound. I couldn’t do anything about it because he was under suspension.”
Efforts to get Popoola’s response proved abortive as he was still in police custody.
But the Police Public Relations Officer, Kwara State Command, Mr. Ajayi Okasanmi, said he had been informed of the allegation against Popoola of having sexual relationship with Joke, who came to him for treatment.
He stated that the police was investigating the matter.
“I was told that the herbalist had been having an affair with the lady. But after sometime, the woman failed to continue with the relationship and she died. We are still investigating the case to know if it is one that can be handled by police as the law does not believe in juju. But we are still investigating,” he said.