Last month, a leaked telephone conversation between Richard Akindele, a professor in the department of management and accounting at Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) Ile-Ife, and Monica Osagie, a postgraduate student surfaced on the internet.
The audio detailed how the lecturer solicited sex from the female student to award her a pass mark. After this embarrassment, the man at the center of the crisis deactivated his Facebook account and disappeared from public glare. Even in his seclusion, more facts have emerged about the Anglican priest.
TheCable visited the post-graduate (PG) hall of the university to speak with students of the professor, as well as visiting the former church he pastored and the present one. At first, it was difficult to get the students to speak as most of them restrained from talking to a reporter on such issue to avoid a backlash. When their anonymity was guaranteed, they spoke off the record about the jovial and brilliant lecturer at the MBA class, though they all acknowledged that the issue surrounding the scandal wasn’t news to them.
FATHER OF THREE GIRLS
He is said to be a father of three daughters — the first lives abroad. A few days before the scandal broke out, one of his students said he flaunted his two other daughters on his whatsapp profile after they successfully completed their baptism.
According to sources, Akindele hails from Ikire, a town in Osun state. He had his secondary education at Fatima College, which is in the town.
The 62-year-old lecturer sits in the 9th position in the departmental staff cadre. On a visit to his office at the faculty of administration, the door was locked with bars.
The clergyman at the Anglican Diocese of Ife, is also said to be a member of the church’s marriage committee.
‘HIS AMOROUS LIFESTYLE KNOWN TO THOSE AROUND HIM’
A female student, who claimed to be close to Akindele, said, “Immediately I heard the voice in the audio, I knew he was the one even before the lady mentioned his name. This is not an issue of today. Everyone knows him for that. If he wants a lady to see him in his office, he tells her in class right in front of everyone.
“We heard that when the issue happened about two years ago, the victim’s boyfriend with the knowledge of the lady resorted to blackmail, as they exploited professor close to N2 million. In fact, we heard that he once contemplated suicide. At one point, he confessed to his wife about it and she told him to let them do their worst as they cannot continue paying them. That was why they leaked the audio.
“After the audio was leaked, one of our lecturers told us that he posted on the whatsapp page of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) members how he warned Akindele to desist from such act after he intervened on behalf of a female undergraduate Akindele wanted to sleep with, but nothing has changed thereafter.”
When TheCable reached out to Monica’s lawyer, Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, executive director of Women Advocate Research and Documentation Centre (WARD-C), she denied the allegation.
“Even at the panel, we asked them about it and they said the man didn’t say anything about that. Monica doesn’t have any boyfriend, so there is no need for any exploitation,” she said.
‘HE APPROACHED MY WIFE’
A doctoral student whose wife was a former MBA student of the professor said he wasn’t surprised about his ordeal since he once approached his wife.
“When she told me about it, I went to his office right away to warn him not to go near my wife again because I have heard a lot about him. In fact, I told her then to record him if he persisted,” he said.
The wife added, “I could have been a victim too but I made sure I didn’t go to his office alone. From the first word in the audio, I knew it was him. He was my friend. He calls me often and we chat on WhatsApp. He invited me to his wife’s birthday recently but I couldn’t make it. He was very jovial but this incident has come to teach him a lesson.”
A VISIT TO ‘CHURCH OF THE MESSIAH’
In what seemed like a revelation yet concealed from the public, a source told TheCable that the embattled professor was embroiled in a similar sex scandal at his former church around 2007 which resulted to his transfer to another church. While he pastored Church of the Messiah at Ede road, a stone throw from the university gate, Akindele was alleged to have been entangled in a romantic relationship with a female member, which snowballed into a scandal. When the issue was settled, the source said he was immediately transferred.
When TheCable visited the church at Ede road, an inscription at the entrance showed that the church was dedicated on Saturday, December 9, 2006, when Akindele was the pastor in charge.
A SUNDAY SERVICE AT HIS PARISH
At the bible study on Sunday, April 29, at the Obawole Chapel of Christ the Light located at the bishop’s court of Anglican Communion, diocese of Ife, the elderly female preacher admonished the less than 20 congregation from John 16:33.
She said, “Stand firm for I have overcome the world. We’ll face tribulations. Let troubles come; let problems come, will you stand if you are told to give up your faith, integrity and belief? Let’s go back to Revelation 2:10.”
“Fear none of those things which thou shall suffer. Behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison that ye may be tried, and ye shall have tribulations ten days. Be thou faithful unto death and I will give thee a crown of life.”
After service, this reporter approached the presiding priest who said he was acting on behalf of the vicar-in-charge. At the mention of Richard Akindele, he said he was not in the best capacity to speak to the media on the issue; hence, the reporter should come the next day to meet with the director of administration of the diocese.
On Monday, April 30, when this reporter visited the office complex at the bishop’s court to speak with the director, the chaplain and another official at the reception became aggressive as they interrupted him while explaining the purpose of his visit.
Shouting at the top of his voice, the chaplain said that the issue was already being dealt with on campus where it happened; hence, it’s not the business of the diocese again. He roared, “Please, leave the premises. Go and write whatever you like because the church doesn’t care. We’ve seen a lot that you people have written on the internet already.”
While the reporter was instantly escorted out, a stern instruction was dished out to the gatekeeper to never allow any journalist or persons who have come on the issue of Akindele entrance into the compound.
WILL AKINDELE BE CRUCIFIED?
Even as the committee set up by the management to investigate the scandal rocking the institution recommended the suspension of Akindele, pending the final determination of the disciplinary case against him, there’s a growing concern that the embattled lecturer might scale through.
A source pointed to a similar sex-scandal case around 2016 involving one Sunday Akindele, a professor in the department of political science who is also said to be a relative of Richard Akindele. He was said to have been suspended from the institution after the investigative committee indicted him for failing a brilliant female student from political science education who didn’t give in to his advances. The case was said to have generated attention from Oby Ezekwesili, the then minister of education.
After a series of legal battle, the lecturer was reinstated in the department eight years later. Hence, such legal intricacies could be deployed by the Anglican priest to scale through the scandal.