Tolulope Akande-Shadipe, the lawmaker representing Oluyole Federal Constituency, Oyo State, in the Federal House of Representatives, has effected the arrest of an aide to Ovie Omo-Agege, the Deputy Senate President (DSP), for standing too close to her during an elevator ride at the National Assembly complex.
Jide Babalola, the Senior Special Assistant on Print to the DSP, was said to have spent close to two hours in detention at the crime unit of the National Assembly before another member of the house of representatives requested for his bail.
“I joined the public elevator on the third floor of the house of reps building, going down because I needed to take care of some things. I have always avoided the elevators meant for reps members and senators since 2000, because they are not meant for the public, and because that is the right way of doing things,” Babalola told FIJ.
According to him, there were close to seven people in the elevator when he joined it.
“Two other people also joined the elevator after I did, and I made sure not to rub shoulders with anybody. Corona Virus is still out there. I was infected last year and I know what I went through before I recovered. All of a sudden, the honourable member shouted at me from behind, saying I was about to bump into her. Then I asked, “Madam, why would I bump into you?” Babalola said.
He also said Akande-Shadipe became furious after she was referred to as ‘madam’ and started to scream at him.
“While she was screaming, she said she was a honourable member and started asking questions like, ‘Who are you?’ ‘What is your name?’ And so on,” Babalola told FIJ.
He noted that when they got to the ground floor, they met other reps members and the Minister of Health, who also saw her screaming.
“After listening to her explanation of what happened, one of the reps members told me that even if I felt I had not done anything wrong, I should still apologise to her, and I immediately did,” he revealed.
Babalola told FIJ that he headed to the building’s exit after the legislators and the minister left, only to hear Akande-Shadipe call for his arrest.
“After apologising and everyone had gone their way, I thought all had been settled. I was heading to the exit, then she beckoned on the officers working with the sergeant-at-arms and some policemen that I must be arrested, saying she still wanted to take the matter up with me and that I should not be released till she got back from where she was going,” he said.
Babalola said he was first taken to the police post attached to the National Assembly before being transferred to the crimes unit in the complex.
“It was while I was writing a statement at the crimes unit that another house of reps member heard of the incident and came for my bail,” said Babalola.
When FIJ contacted Akande-Shadipe on the incident, she said it was a case of gender harassment.
“I was talking to a staff member of NASS when he came in. All I said to him was, ‘Please, don’t step back’, and he turned on me, intimidating me, because I am a woman. This is a case of gender bias and gender intimidation,” she said.
The legislator also said if Babalola had stepped back, he would have had “a direct body contact with her”, step on her and they would have ridden “body-to-body” in the elevator.
“He was standing directly in front of me and if he stepped back his body would be having direct contact with my body, as he was directly in front of me and he could misjudge the distance between us,” she said. “There was no space for me to step back and we would have ridden in that elevator body to body. Unacceptable.”
‘A SOURCE FAMILIAR WITH THE MATTER
“This is very sad,” a source familiar with the matter told FIJ. “These are people we have entrusted with the sole responsibility of legislating on our behalf. We should be able to say they are fair, truthful and just. But unfortunately, the reverse is the case.”
The source, who asked not to be named, said the picture the lawmaker painted was completely false, and that she was only trying to play the gender card.
“Despite being told by her colleagues to go and get him out, she refused till she left the National Assembly premises. It’s a sad case. Quite unfortunate,” the source said.
“Power-drunkeness is real. What power-drunkeness cannot do does not exist!”
FIJ understands that at the National Assembly, there are two elevators at every point on every floor: one to the left, the other to the right. In the House of Reps, the one to the left is primarily reserved for lawmakers, so that they can have easy access anytime, while the one to the right is for the public (However, in the Senate, the elevators on the left are for the public while the one on the right are for senators.)
Therefore, Akande-Shadipe, the chairperson of the House of Representatives Committee on Diaspora, should not have been in that elevator, as it is reserved for the public.
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