sexual harassment 2

Juliana Francis

A woman, Mrs Grace Bassey, has written a petition against her immediate boss, Lieutenant Colonel Christian Omerebere Azubuike, for allegedly fondling her breasts, grabbing her buttocks and physically attacking her in the office when she rebuffed his advances.

The incident took place at the Salvation Army, Nigerian Territory, located in the Onipanu area of Lagos State, where both the victim and accused work.

On the day Azubuike allegedly slapped her, Bassey had reported the incident to the Territorial Public Relations Secretary, (TPRS), the Salvation Army, Nigeria Territory, Major Daniel Ekong.

The Salvation Army is a protestant Christian Church and an international charitable organisation.

The alleged abuser, Azubuike, was said to have just been installed as Chief Secretary, making him the second in command in the Nigeria arm of the organisation, barely two months ago.

Bassey, who is a Deeper Life Church member, married, decided to damn the consequences and wrote a petition against her boss due to how he had made the workplace, where she works as a secretary, very hostile to her.

She has also accused the overall boss of the branch, Commissioner Daniel Kasuso of threatening to sack her over her refusal to withdraw the petition written against Azuibuike.

In fact, rather than withdraw the petition written to the top hierarchy of the organisation, Bassey has taken further steps to escalate the matter by going to the Onipanu Police Station.

The Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), who confirmed the incident, said that the accused was arrested and then granted bail, but that by Friday, 21st of September all parties would be moved to the Gender Unit of the Lagos State Police Command.

Recollecting how it all happened, Bassey said: “He wanted to have sex with me, but I refused him. He started touching my breasts and buttocks. Whenever I wanted to go and proofread for him, he would touch my buttocks.

“He called me one morning, saying I should come into his office; we have separate offices. On getting there, he said I should turn, and I turned. He held my breasts and was caressing my breasts.

“He wanted to put his finger into my private part which I pushed him away and ran to my office. I left the office that day. On another occasion, he returned from a meeting and there was a document I needed to make a correction.

“He called to hand over the document to me. I went there and he explained, and I said, ‘Yes sir!’ and that was how this man just gave me a thunderous slap.

“I almost fell to the ground. I turned and looked at him, wondering what I had done to deserve such treatment. He said he was going to deal with me as the Chief Secretary of the Salvation Army Organisation.

“He said that I wanted to work in an executive office, but I was not ready to comply. I left there and went to report to the Public Relations Secretary, Major Daniel Ekong. The man was even surprised that the Chief Secretary slapped me.

“The man pleaded with me not to tell my husband because he didn’t want my husband to come and make trouble. I told him that I would definitely tell my husband, I couldn’t continue to keep such from my husband. He gave N10,000 to go to the hospital.”

Bassey said that she had gone to the hospital for treatment at least thrice due to pains in her ear.

Bassey said that she was sick and tired of the sexual harassment and would not accept also being physically attacked, so she wrote a petition.

She narrated: “I first wrote on my system through our mail because we are using a network in the office. I forwarded the letter to the Territorial Commissioner, the Head there. Then, I copied my line manager, which is this abuser, Mr. Christian Azubuike. I copied the wife of the Territorial Commander. When I got home that evening, Christian Azubuike called me, asking why I wrote the letter. He said I had ruined him. I had also included in the letter that he should apologise to me before the cabinet members of the organisation and his wife.

“He complained that the letter was too harsh. I told him to get it right with God and ended the call.”

She said that following the letter, Azubuike had been pleading with her to withdraw it and stop pursuing the matter, but she refused to yield.

She recalled: “On one occasion, he showed me N500,000 which was his account balance on his phone. He said he was going to do something for me, I told him I was not interested.

“On the 11th of August, I forwarded the hard copy of the letter to the authority. The slap incident happened on the 4th of August. I then discovered that the Territorial Commander wanted to cover up the whole thing. He started threatening me, asking why I wrote the letter.”

According to Bassey, she made sure that Azubuike got a copy of the letter, but rather than give her a woman’s solidarity, the woman arrogantly, “ordered me to go and withdrew the letter I wrote to the church leadership. I refused her through my mail. Nobody can brainwash me to lie against God. They want to make a me liar.”

She said that when she was eventually called by the leadership, she explained everything, but Azubuike denied it.

She said that following that, Commissioner Daniel Kasuso refused her to work at full capacity, restricting her movement.

She stated: “The Commissioner restricted me to my office. My job as a secretary entails taking charge of incoming mail, which I register and then distribute to different departments.

“He stopped me from my duties. He said people should be coming to my office to pick up their mail and people started complaining. I heard rumours that he was planning to blackmail and then sack me. I didn’t believe it until he gave those instructions and restricted me to my office. I had to involve my lawyer and we wrote a petition to General Lyndon Buckingham in London, that is the general of the headquarters of the church, so that the matter would be investigated.

“Azubuike was suspended, but this Commissioner and the lawyer of the church are working tirelessly to cover the matter. They told a lot of lies to the general. All I want is justice!”

Bassey’s lawyer, Precious O. Amadi Esq, in a letter addressed to the General in London, said: “The Salvation Army is an International Humanitarian Christian Organization of repute.  We have no doubt that the extant Codes, Orders and Regulations of The Salvation Army do not support the type of animalistic instincts, or actions alleged to be exhibited by the Chief Secretary in the petition of our client.

“These characters allegedly exhibited by the Chief Secretary clearly belong more to the touts and not the officers, soldiers of Christ who are supposed to be the custodians and adherents to biblical injunctions.

“Our Client informs us that both Commissioner Daniel Kasuso and the Chief Secretary have resorted to intimidating and threatening her; our client now lives and works in fear. Commissioner Daniel Kasuso and The Chief Secretary now restricted our client to a spot in her workplace and threatened to throw her out any moment from now in order to fully suppress the allegation and do a total cover-up of the same.

“We wish to also bring to your notice that the allegations of our client against the Chief Secretary as contained in the petition submitted to the Territorial Commander, Nigerian Territory are clearly acts of violence against women and sexual harassment at the workplace.  These acts are internationally condemned by various international conventions and in Nigeria they have been domesticated by the necessary domestic legislation one of which is the Violent Against Persons Prohibition Act, 2015.  This Act defines “violence” as “any act or attempted act, which causes or may cause any person physical, sexual, psychological, verbal, emotional or economic harm whether this occurs in private or public life, in peacetime and in conflict situations”.

“Our client will be advised to externalise the nefarious conduct of the Chief Secretary and may contact the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) and other non-governmental organizations that promote, protect and preserve the rights, interests and well-being of women. Our client may also briefly notice of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and other ecumenical bodies about the stinking leadership of The Salvation Army, Nigerian Territory.

“Besides, physical assault occasioning bodily harm, as our client states that she ‘developed pain in my eye, ear, jaw’, and indecent assault are criminal offences to which the necessary relevant laws of Nigeria, Lagos State in particular, make necessary provisions.

“While we implore you to carry out a detailed investigation of the allegation of our client against the Chief Secretary, our client reserves the right to submit the criminal conduct of the Chief Secretary to the relevant security agencies for investigation and prosecution in the appropriate law court.”

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