‘The shame was too much for me but now the problem is back to the sender’
UP and coming Yoruba actress cum film maker, Yetunde Akilapa, who has been an item on the lips of many within and outside the industry for quite a while over theft allegations has spoken to ENCOMIUM Weekly further on her ordeal. In an exclusive interview with us on Friday, January 24, 2014, in Ketu, Lagos, the Ilesha, Osun born entertainer claimed she was wrongly accused and unlawfully detained. According to her, the battle is over now and the problem is back to the sender.
The story about you is not palatable at all. Some days back you’re alleged to have burgled a house in Magodo, Lagos and you were beaten to a pulp by the residents. It was also alleged that you have a record of similar incident which happened early last year, what really happened?
Let me clear the wrong impression people have of me. I am not a thief because I didn’t steal anything. When the first incident happened, I went to deliver weave-ons to my customer because I deal in weave-ons, attachments and all that. When I got to the place, they told me the person I was looking for wasn’t residing in that house. They said they didn’t even know anybody bearing that name. And I left. As I turned back, my phone just rang and I picked the call. I told the person that called me that I will call back. The person still called me again. Immediately they heard the phone ringing, they just snatched it from me, asking who was calling. The person calling me didn’t know the phone wasn’t with me again. She was just saying, “Hello, what’s happening?” That was how they cut the call and started interrogating me. They asked if the person calling me was the one who sent me to come and rob them. I was dumbfounded. Not knowing that there was an armed robbery incident in the house on December 27, 2012. And I went there on January 12, 2013, to look for somebody. I didn’t go to the place for a wrong reason, they made me confused when they started shouting. They said police had instructed them to report anybody whose movement is suspicious at the station. I wasn’t afraid because there was no stolen item on me. They now said they wanted to check my bag and I gave it to them. They found weave-ons and a bunch of keys in the bag. They said they wanted to know what I was doing with the keys, and I told them they were my house keys.
But they said the keys were about 100 pieces…
(Cuts in) No, that’s a lie. They were about 20, not 100. And they’re all for my rooms, wardrobes and shop. People started peddling the rumour that they found master keys on me. I believe if they were master keys, they should have opened all the doors in the house. And when they tested the keys on their doors, none of them unlocked any of the doors.
Who was the person that called you when you entered the house which made the occupants suspect you?
It’s a colleague of mine, Queen. That time, she was looking for a new accommodation in my area, that’s Bariga, Lagos. She now asked me to help find out from my estate agent if there was any. That was what she called me for before they hijacked my phone. But before the incident, I was running a salon which I had handed over to my friend’s cousin in my area. But she was not remitting enough money to me as agreed. I later disagreed with her and the issue degenerated into serious crisis to the extent that we dragged ourselves to the police station. An elder sister of my friend, Titi, also joined her sister in fighting me. She even threatened me, she said she would deal with me. She said it is because I have money, that’s why I am pompous. She said a lot of things. But at the end of the day, the police released her younger sister, who was detained for injuring my sister over the issue. The police settled the matter and asked my friend to give me the exact time she would pay me, which she did. Since that time, we have parted ways. And I have forgotten everything. But there was also one of their cousins, Wale, whom I once dated. The day of the incident in Bariga, one of the occupants of the house who was with my phone just dialed his number and asked him whether he knew me or not, and he said he knew me. That was how he was invited to meet me at the police station.
Why was he the one and not any other person?
The number was in my phone, and I think that was the last dialed number, and they also saw the message the guy sent to me. When he was told what happened, I think he called all his sisters, Kike, Shade (my friend) and their eldest sister, Titi. So, four of them came to the station that evening. But I didn’t know their mission. I asked my younger sister why Wale and his sisters were at the police station. “Who invited them?” I called my sister but she said she also didn’t know how they all knew I was at the station. My sister advised me to leave them. The people who took me to the station said they only suspected me due to what happened in the house on December 27, 2012. From there, they instructed that I should be granted bail. But to my surprise, I was denied bail that day. I was detained till the next day. I became so worried, wondering why I was in detention after they had been instructed to release me. I even asked the IPO in charge of the case why I was still being held. He said I should not worry, I would be released the following morning. But I was not. Even my brother came that morning with the hope of following him home but he was also disappointed that the police didn’t release me. The occupants of the house who were the complainants were also surprised that I even slept at the station. These people said they didn’t have problem with me any longer, everything was in the hand of the police. Shortly after, I saw the IPO, he promised I would be released soon. But few minutes later, they said they will go and search my house. That’s why my sister was arguing with them that they can’t do that to me, after all they didn’t find any stolen item on me. In the course of the heated argument between my sister and the police, she was also detained behind the counter. They said the fact that my sister was arguing with them indicated that the allegation must be true. I now warned my sister to stop arguing with them so that the matter would not be complicated.
After all, my conscience is clear, I am not a thief. That was how they sent three police officers to accompany me to the house. When they got there, they searched everywhere including my wardrobe. Nothing implicating was found in my house. I have receipts for everything I bought including my television, home theatre, fan and others. Even if I buy ordinary wear in a boutique, I will collect receipt for it. So, when we got back to the station, the police officers told the Divisional Police Officer (DPO), that no stolen item was found in my house. The DPO was surprised to hear that. IPO now told him that if he doesn’t believe them, he can still send another set of police officers to the house. As at the time we came back, I met one guy at the station. I didn’t know he was a press man working with PM News. He just asked if truly I am an actress and I said yes. Meanwhile, that my friend’s sister, Titi had explained everything to him. I never envisaged him doing any harm. I thought he was asking me on a good mission. He asked of the number of movies I had produced. I told him everything. He now asked me about the details of the whole issue, and innocently, I explained the details to him. He now probed further on the bunch of keys with me, I told him the keys belong to me. That was the time I began to suspect he was a pressman. All I thought before was that he was a production manager in our industry when he said PM. Later, he left. Then, in the evening, the IPO came and told me that I should arrange for a lawyer. He said the DPO had refused my bail application. He now asked about my relationship with Titi and her siblings. I told him they were all my sisters and brother. The IPO asked if I was sure of what I said. I still told him yes. Not knowing they came on a wrong mission. I asked him why the DPO was punishing me unjustly. After all, no stolen item was found on me, even in my house. Then, why am I being detained for this long? He now told me they’re charging me to court. I told him there’s no problem. And I called my lawyer and explained everything to him. My lawyer came the next morning. Do you believe when these girls saw my lawyer, they started condemning him. They even told me I don’t need any lawyer. Titi was bragging that I shouldn’t have invited the man, she knew the judge that will handle the matter. I don’t have any problem. At that juncture, I now tried to consider what she was saying, not knowing she was against me.
Which court were you changed to?
That was Magistrate Court, Sabo, Lagos. It’s Court 4. When we got there, my brother and my lawyer stood as my sureties. That was how I was bailed. Then, after that my lawyer advised me not to go to my house that day. I think the IPO had explained everything about the attitude of those girls and their sister. That was what informed going to my friend’s house that day. But to my surprise, about three days after, my story was all over the internet that I have been sentenced, I am now in Kirikiri Maximum Prisons all that. They said they found master keys on me. That was when I said I needed to call the IPO if the keys they saw with me that day opened any of the doors in the house. But my lawyer said I should not bother myself about that. Since, then, we were going to court but none of the complainants showed up. Even the IPO didn’t come to court. So, when the magistrate saw that it was a only my lawyer and myself that were coming, he struck out the case. That was how I was set free. I never stepped Kirikiri in my life, it was just a wicked rumour.
When it became obvious that you are not guilty, and you have been unlawfully detained by the police beyond 24 hours, why didn’t your lawyer file an application to challenge the violation of your fundamental human right?
He wanted to but I told him I didn’t want that because I wouldn’t like a situation where the case will be over dragged. And before we know it, people will start misinterpreting the whole thing. So far God has vindicated me, I thank Him for that.
Since then nothing like that happened again until January 12, 2014, when Magodo episode came up. Yes, I didn’t experience anything like that. I had worked with some of my colleagues in many movie locations, nothing happened. Nobody accused me of anything.
How did that of January 12, 2014 happen? It was reported that you were caught sleeping in the dining room of a house in Magodo, Lagos, and the owner of the house met you there with the suspicion that you’re there for the wrong reasons. Can you shed light on the story?
That day, I wanted to take my clothes to a dry cleaner. Meanwhile, my younger sister had told me earlier that she was not feeling fine, I now planned to go to her place after dropping my clothes. I told my friend, who I was putting up with in Ketu, that I wanted to go to Bariga, to see my sister. That day I also wanted to go to church but I didn’t know what really happened to me. I just decided to forget about going to church. As I wanted to board a bus going to Bariga, something told me to cross to the other side of the road and take Keke NAPEP going to Magodo. That was how I boarded the Keke to Magodo with my bag, clothes and four keys on me. On getting to Magodo, I saw a house and went there straight? I didn’t see any gateman there. I opened the door because it wasn’t locked. I entered the house and slept off in the dining room. That’s all I knew till one man just came in and woke me up, asking how I got there. He started interrogating me, asking me a lot of questions which I couldn’t answer. He didn’t accuse me of coming to rob or steal anything but he only wanted to know who I was looking for. But I didn’t know what to say because everything was like a mystery to me. He said I should go out first. As I wanted to step out, he instructed the security men there not to allow me move an inch. They were all shouting, ‘Thief! Thief!!’
Immediately, he picked his phone and called his brothers, telling them he met a woman in the house when he came back from church and when he was leaving the house, he locked the door. So, he was surprised when he found me in their dining room. How did she enter? He started saying a lot of things, I was trying to explain to them that I didn’t use any key to open the door, I just entered and sat at the dining table, that was how I slept off. I told them I was also confused, I couldn’t just explain how I got to the place. That was the time I began to realize I was in a wrong place. Then, when the owner of the house came, he also started interrogating me, he said I should confess the person that sent me. He asked whether I was sent to kill him. He thought I came with fetish things, and I said no. He said I should just confess. He even said maybe I was sent to kill his wife. He never accused me of stealing. As he was saying all these, I was just pleading, telling him I too did not know how I got there. I told him nobody sent me there. I came on my own but I was telling them I wanted to give dry cleaner my clothes. And that there was a person that told me about the dry cleaner, they asked of the person’s name, and I told them it’s Bisi. And they checked my phone and found her number there. When they called to find out, she told them she didn’t say Magodo but Maryland. That’s how they said I was not saying the truth, that I didn’t want to expose the person that sent me. Before I knew it, one guy just hit me in the head with a club. That’s all I knew. By the time I regained my consciousness, they had invited my friend. When she came, she was shocked to see me in that kind of situation. She was screaming. Those people now concluded that they will take me to the police station but before then I was taken to one private hospital for treatment. When we got to the police station, they started drilling me, and I explained the way I explained to them at the house. They asked the owner of the house if I stole anything, he said no but the way they found me was suspicious. He said he thought maybe I was sent by somebody on a diabolical mission. Their pastor also came, and I explained the whole thing to him also, he now prayed for me. He said my problem is spiritual. He said God wanted to deliver me that’s why I came to that house that day. But now, my problem is over. That’s how I was asked to go.
It’s Christ Embassy, Ikeja, very close to LTV 8. I was invited to the church, they prayed for me. Then, they assured me that all demonic signs in my life have been banished. The pastor specifically told me that God had delivered me of evil attack. Since then, I have not stopped seeking lasting solution to the problem. I was told some people just wanted to ruin my life and career because they have seen my glory. I just thank God for everything. People stood by me, some even added me on their Facebook accounts and BB, praying for me while some who I thought were friends turned out to be my enemies.
What step did your parents, especially your mom take on the issue?
They tried for me. My mom even called the pastor, and he explained the whole thing to her. He said my situation is spiritual but everything was over. And there won’t be any form of wrong allegation against me again.
Do you also believe the battle is over?
Yes, by the special grace of God. It has gone back to the sender. I am not a thief. I have never stolen anything in my life.
Who are you now suspecting that may be responsible for your ordeal?
I don’t know. I think only God knows but where I believe my problem started was when the first incident happened which I was wrongly accused.
But people have alleged that you’re a kleptomaniac?
What do you mean by that? I have never stolen anything in my life. I think a kleptomaniac is a person that steals all the time. Not me, Yetunde Akilapa, God forbid.
How many movies have you produced?
I have produced three movies, two before I finished from Odunfa and one after I left Odunfa. I am yet to release the third movie, I just gave it a working title, Ileri Oluwa.
Do you have a man rocking your life?
Yes, I have a boyfriend.
How does he feel hearing all these about you?
He is not happy about the incident but stands by me all the time. He is a wonderful person. He didn’t abandon me because of the incident.
What of your friends?
I don’t think I have friends any more apart from that my friend, Adeola. She stood by me throughout the trying period.
What lesson did you learn from the whole palaver?
I learnt a lot but the only thing I can point out is to be very careful about the way you deal with people. One should be very careful of being too generous. For instance, that Titi benefited a lot from me, now see what she paid me back with. But I have handed everything to God.
Have you considered quitting acting because of the incident?
Yes, I thought of it but when I consulted my pastor, he said I shouldn’t. My friend also advised me to continue. The shame was too much for me but I thank God everything has become history.
– TADE ASIFAT