Ebenezer Omejalile, a prosecution witness in a defilement case against an Islamic cleric, Abdulsalam Salaudeen, narrated how a hidden camera recorded the defendant raping a 5-year-old minor in a Mosque in Lagos.
Omejalile, a social worker and child protection consultant, testified before an Ikeja Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Court on Thursday.
He was led in evidence by Akin George, lead state prosecutor.
Salaudeen, 43, who resides at No. 16, Awoyemi Street, Ikotun, Lagos, is facing a charge of child defilement, contrary to Section 137 of the Criminal Law of Lagos, 2015.
Omejalile told the court that a hidden camera was set up in the mosque, which captured the cleric engaging in sodomy with the pupil.
Omejalile told the court how he got to know of Salaudeen’s alleged unlawful act.
“A community-mandated reporter drew my attention to what was happening in the community.
“She said that Alfa Abdulsalam had been abusing children who attend his Islamic school in the community,” the witness said.
The witness stated that he then embarked on a “social inquiry”, and found the claim to be true.
“We (Omejalile and his team members) also found out that he was not just a cleric, he was regarded as a demi-god in the community.
“We got a laser camera and we planted the laser camera within the vicinity of the mosque,” he said.
He said that the camera caught Salaudeen in the act, defiling one of his pupils, the five-year-old girl.
According to him, the graphic footage was obtained and transferred into a mobile phone.
He said the mobile phone was taken to the Child Protection Unit of the Lagos State Ministry of Youth and Social Development.
Omejalile, however, said that staff of the unit refused to attend to the matter, which forced him to go to the police.
“When I got there, they were not ready to attend to the issue; they told me in Yoruba that they did not want to see something unusual.
“I proceeded immediately to the office of the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), I gave him a copy of the footage which was sent to the then Lagos State Commissioner of Police (CP), Mr Edgal Imohimi.
“Initially, the CP found it difficult to believe the video because of its graphic nature and kept asking if I was sure of its authenticity. It took a week for him to act on it.
“Meanwhile, the mandated reporter kept calling me, saying that children were still being sexually abused by the cleric.
“I called the PPRO to immediately act on it or the press would be contacted, and on Dec. 28, 2018, a team was set up to arrest the Alfa,” he testified.
He told the court that the team, comprising himself, police officers from the State Investigation Bureau (SIB) and the Gender Unit went to arrest the suspect.
Omejalile said that the Gender Unit refused to go with the team on the day they were meant to effect the arrest.
He said when the team arrived at Igando, the defendant was absent and members of the community were resistant.
The social worker noted that Salaudeen pretended he was oblivious of the allegation when he arrived, even when the name of the victim was mentioned to him.
Omejalile said that the team wanted leave the community with 10 pupils of the Islamic preacher, but youths became hostile.
“I pulled one of the youths aside and I showed him the video and he immediately calmed the other youths down.
“After all the arguments, the Alfa resisted and still said he did not know why he was being taken away; when we told him it was on the CP’s orders, he agreed,” he added.
“When the video was shown to him, he burst into tears and accepted that he committed the crime.
“The 10 other children from his Islamic school were taken to the Juvenile Welfare Centre located at Alakara.
“We had called their parents to identify them after they were picked up from the mosque.
“At a point, the Child Protection Unit of the Lagos State Ministry of Youth and Social Development took over the children,” the social worker said.
Justice Abiola Soladoye adjourned the case till February 10 for continuation of trial.