It was very early on a Sunday morning. I was riding to church in company of my friend, Olaitan Yisa while we listened attentively to the day’s Newspaper Headlines. At some point, Olaitan asked me whether I heard the story of the Taxify driver that sexually assaulted a female passenger who claimed to be a lesbian.
I was plain enough to disclose to him I heard nothing of such. Being enthusiastic about the news, I thereafter proceeded to the website of DailyPost to read the full story which is as follows:
“A taxi driver has been arrested for allegedly making sexual advances and touching a customer’s breast while on board his taxi.
According to a twitter user @juiciestofjays,the incident happened on Friday.
The driver identified as Iniobong who was driving a teal Honda Accord with plate number EKY-114DM was arrested after the lady called him out on twitter for touching her breast.
She wrote “So I’m in a taxify & the driver keeps taking many many sexual orientation becomes the topic & I say I’m a lesbian”.
“This guy reached out to me & squeezed my nipple. you can’t even imagine my shock”.
“He said “lesbians don’t react to male touch so I was curious”.
“I’m a fucking rider & a stranger. how is this ok?”.
“Iniobong driving a teal Honda Accord with plate number EKY-114DM needs to be taken off the platform immediately or else.”
In the video attached online, the driver was seen begging the lady in question to pardon him and not press charges after he dropped her off at her house.
However, the driver upon arrest has been blocked from the platform and will be charged to court for sexual assault soon”.
I could remember Olaitan asked me whether it is just the Taxify driver that should face the wrath of the law while the female passenger that made the confession of being a lesbian should go scot-free.
Point to Note:
1. Sexual harassment is unwelcome sexual advances, request for sexual favours, and other visual, verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature which when submitted to or rejected-
(a) Implicitly or explicitly affects a person’s employment or educational opportunity or unreasonable interferes with the person’s work or educational performance;
(b) Implicitly or explicitly suggests that submission to or rejection of the conduct will be a factor in academic or employment decisions; or
(c) Creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive learning or working environment.
2. Any person who sexually harasses another is guilty of a felony and is liable to imprisonment for three (3) years.
3. Also, any person who knowingly sends, or attempts to send, by post anything which encloses an indecent or obscene print, painting, photograph, lithograph, engraving, book, card, or article, which has on it, or in it, or on its cover, any indecent, obscene, or grossly offensive words, marks, or designs, is guilty of a misdemeanor and is liable to imprisonment for one (1) year.
4. Note at this point that rape and sexual assault are similar but different. While rape requires lack of consent and penetration, sexual assault is any form of sexual contact or behaviour that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient.
5. On the other hand, lesbianism or any other form of homosexuality is a criminal offence in Nigerian and attracts severe punishments.
6. A person who registers, operates or participates in gay clubs, societies or organizations, or directly or indirectly makes public show of same-sex amorous relationship in Nigeria commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a term of 10 years.
7. Anyone convicted of entering into a same-sex marriage contract or civil union shall be sentenced to 14 years imprisonment.
8. A person or group of persons who administers, witnesses, abets, or aids the solemnization of a same sex marriage or civil union, or supports the registration, operation and sustenance of gay clubs, societies, organizations, processions or meetings in Nigeria commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a term of 10 years imprisonment.
9. In the Law of Evidence, a confession is an admission made at any time by a person charged with a crime, stating or suggesting the inference that he committed the crime.
10. Niki Tobi, a retired Supreme Court Justice is credited to have said, “the best evidence for purposes of conviction is the free and voluntary confession to the commission of the crime by the accused person”
11. In any proceeding, a confession made by a defendant may be given in evidence against him/her in so far as it is relevant to any matter in issue in the proceedings and is not excluded by the court.
It is on the above points of law I hold the firm opinion that in as much as the Taxify driver is being prosecuted for sexual assault, as long as there is cogent evidence, the female passenger should also be charged for proclaiming publicly to be a lesbian. However, it must be noted that the female passenger might have claimed to be a lesbian to wade off the sexual pressure of the Taxify driver.
If the Laws are to be followed strictly, how innocent can you be as regards the offences of sexual assault and homosexuality?
THE LEGAL DIARY
Joseph Jagunmolu Ogunmodede