What is obvious is that the cruel fate that has befallen Professor Richard Akindele is that of someone’s sins finding him/her out.
“Self-discipline is a self-enlarging process.” – M. Scott Peck
For demanding sex from his student in return for better grades, Prof Richard Akindele, a former lecturer in Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, will spend the next two years in Ilesa Prison in Osun State. Justice Maureen Onyekenu of the Federal High Court sitting in Osun State sentenced him to a six-year jail term last Monday after he pleaded guilty to a four-count charge bordering on sexual harassment and alteration of age preferred against him by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Offences Commission (ICPC).
Prof Akindele had earlier denied the charges. Even before the case was charged to court, he had alleged that the student in question, Monica Osagie, had sexually harassed him in his office by pulling off her dress and revealing her body sometime in November 2017. But little did he know that his accuser had a recorded phone conversation where he was demanding to sleep with her five times or to fail his course. However, apparently realising that he was merely postponing the dooms day by denying the charges, he changed his plea from not guilty to guilty when the case came up for hearing last Monday.
In entering the guilty plea, his counsel, Francis Omotosho, had pleaded for a suspended sentence and plea bargain, which the judge rejected outright. Justice Omotosho held that “plea bargain is not absolute.” According to her, “the court still has discretion. This kind of issue is too rampant in our tertiary institutions. We send children to school (but) they come home telling us that lecturers want to sleep with them. We cannot continue like this. Somebody has to be used as an example. Even primary school pupils are complaining. Telling me to suspend sentence does not arise. Plea bargain does not arise. Maybe the case continues to occur and reoccur because someone has not been used as example.”
She was convinced that only meting out a harsh punishment on Akindele would serve as a deterrent to other randy lecturers, who in seeking to satisfy their canal desires, trample on the ethics of the teaching profession and exploit vulnerable students. The era of just sacking a culprit from the services of an institution and resting the case perpetually must give way to the law taking its full course.
It appears Justice Onyekenu was aware that what happens most often was that these people soon take up new jobs elsewhere after their sack and continue with their obscene and illicit acts because the society is lenient on them. Akindele’s case has altered that scenario. Justice Onyekenu truly used him as a scapegoat by sentencing him to 24 months imprisonment on count one, 24 months on count two, one year on count three and another one year on count four just as she ordered that the jail terms run concurrently.
Nonetheless, the conviction and sentencing of the randy lecturer was the climax of his gravitation from grace to grass. The authorities of the OAU had sacked him on June 20 this year, after a panel it set up to investigate the matter indicted him. Nevertheless, he may still get further whipping from the Diocese of Ife, Anglican Communion, where he serves as a clergyman. But that’s entirely the prerogative of the church.
What is obvious, however, is that the cruel fate that has befallen Prof Akindele is that of someone’s sins finding him/her out. Recall that when the bubble burst, there were series of testimonies by his students that he had been harassing them sexually; but they didn’t have the courage to expose him. It took a Monica Osagie to tighten the noose on his neck.
Unfortunately for him, not many people are sympathetic to him because he lost to himself. As a priest, he must have come across the admonition in the Scriptures in Matthew 18: 8 which says: “If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away.” Self-discipline and self-control are unarguably priced virtues.
Anyway, the saying goes that, “the downfall of a man is not the end of his life.” This statement simply seeks to inspire men and women who for any reason crash from their Olympian height to a lowly position to maintain a bold face and be hopeful of a rebound. So, weep not for Prof Akindele; it’s not finally over for him until the gods say so if they still love him. But then, he should make hay while the sun shines to atone his sins as most students who had suffered the same fate like Monica may join hands in chain prayers against him.
Prof Akindele, 62, was until his sack from OAU a Professor at the Department of Management and Accounting in the institution. He hails from Ikire, Osun State.