THE Head of Legal Unit of University of Lagos, Akoka, Ms. Mercy Olufunke Akinsode is in trouble again.
The highly temperamental and aggressive lady has been taken to court for abusing her nine year-old niece.
She was alleged to have sent the little girl into the streets for stealing a piece of meat from her pot of soup.
Ms. Akinsode probably knew the gravity of her offence and the odium it will bring to her person and the institution she works for, that is why she told the police that she is a housewife. She is the so-called housewife reported by most newspapers on Friday, June 12, 2015.
Miss Damilola Akinsode is the daughter of Ms. Mercy Akinsode’s late sister. She was said to have been brought from Ekiti State to live with her since the death of her mother years ago.
The story, according to the police prosecutor, DSP Godwin Anyanwu was that Damilola, who was brought back from school on the said day (Friday, June 5, 2015) by Ms. Akinsode’s housemaid, one Esther was given the meat to boil by Esther.
It was the same Esther who reported to her aunty that she (Damilola) ate a piece of meat while cooking it. The aunt on hearing the report sent the little girl away from her house into the street. She was said to have been sighted by a Good Samaritan while she was wandering in the market. It was the Good Samaritan that took her to Alade Police Station, Somolu, Lagos.
Damilola, in her report to the police, denied eating the meat. She claimed that she was eating the left-over of her lunch when Esther saw her and alleged that she was eating part of the meat and reported her to her aunt who threw her out of the house into the streets.
Ms. Mercy Akinsode, in he own statement to the police, denied ever sending Damilola away into the streets. She said she got a call in the evening from Esther that Damilola was missing and she immediately alerted family members to look for her. She said it was later she was told that Damilola had stolen some meat which was why she ran away from the house.
Her defence was not enough to stop her from being arraigned. On Thursday, June 11, 2015, she was arraigned before a Yaba Chief Magistrate Court on one count charge of Child Abuse.
The charge paper read thus: “That you, Akinsode Mercy, on June 5, 2015, at about 8 p.m on Bajulaiye Road, Somolu, in the Lagos Magisterial District, being a custodian of Damilola Akinsode, aged nine years, did unlawfully send her away from home to an unknown destination and thereby abandoning or exposing her to likely grievous harm.”
The police prosecutor, DSP Godwin Anyanwu said the offence was punishable under Sector 247 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State of Nigeria, 2011.
Ms. Mercy Akinsode pleaded not guilty to the charge.
The Chief Magistrate, Mrs. A. O. Soladoye, admitted her to bail in the sum of N100,000 with one surety in like sum.
ENCOMIUM Weekly gathered that Chief Taiwo Osipitan (SAN) and Professor Akin Ibidapo-Obe of University of Lagos stood in as sureties for her.
This is not the first time Mercy Akinsode’s temperament would lead her to trouble.
Sometime on February 24, 2011, she was said to have physically fought with a colleague, one Babatunde Oseni, in the same legal unit of University of Lagos, that led to her tearing Mr. Oseni’s dress into shreds. The altercation between the two led to setting up of a panel headed by Professor Rahman Bello, the current Vice Chancellor to investigate and report its findings to the management.
Following this panel, a six-man review panel headed by Professor F. A. Falade, was instituted by the university’s governing council, the highest decision making organ, on the occurrence. Other members of the panel were Professors Joy Okpuzor, A. V. Atsenuwa, O. I. Jegede, Dr. F. A. Badru and Mrs. C. T. Oloyede, Secretary.
The review panel in its report admitted that Ms. Akinsode was hard working but temperamental and very difficult to work with.
According to the panel’s report, “Under Akinsode’s watch, a very hostile working environment was created, while her style of leadership was dictatorial.”
The panel also submitted that Akinsode “does not see anything good in others and has little or no value for the contributions of others.”
“Ms. Akinsode is aggressive, combative and holds firmly to her opinions even when she is wrong,” the panel said.
In its seven-point recommendation, the panel found Akinsode culpable of misconduct and demanded her sack.
The panel also recommended regular medical check-ups, psychological and mental background screening for new, as well as existing staff members.
Prior to Mr. Babatunde Oseni’s case, there was also the case of her official driver, one Mr. Henry Oyenusi, whom she was alleged to have slapped three times over a minor accident on the road. The case was reported by the driver to the secretary of the university’s branch of Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities (NASU) in 2010.
ENCOMIUM Weekly also gathered that this is not the first time Ms. Akinsode would be maltreating Damilola. She was alleged to have beaten her severely and inflicted injuries on her in the past.
Akinsode, we further gathered, lost her marriage to pugnacious temperament. Her estranged husband was said to have sought and got divorce from her when she almost snuffed life out of him.
Again, the issue of her temperament and violent behavior was what led to her sack from Afe Babalola Chambers, where she worked as a lawyer.
Ms. Mercy Olufunke Akinsode now has a day in the court over temperamental and violent behavior against her niece. The case has been adjourned till July 6, 2015.
Will she escape justice as she has been escaping at University of Lagos? Only time will tell.
When we called Mr. Olagoke Oke, the Deputy Registrar, Public Relations Department of University of Lagos, Akoka, on Sunday, June 14, 2015, he told us to send the name to him through SMS to check whether it is the same Ms. Mercy Olufunke Akinsode, Head Legal Unit of the university that was taken to court for child abuse. We did, but he did not respond to our SMS or calls on Monday, June 15, 2015, before we went to press.