A 40-year-old herbalist, Samson Ogundele, who was arrested for allegedly raping a 17-year-old girl when she and eight others went to him for consultation over missing N1,000 at a hairdresser’s salon in Ogun State, tells DAUD OLATUNJI how he landed in trouble
Aside from being a herbalist what else do you do to earn a living?
I’m a farmer. I plant maize and cassava in Oja-Odan, Yewa-North Local Government Area of Ogun State.
Do you have a family?
Yes, I have two children. I have only one wife.
How did you become a herbalist?
It was my father’s work and when he died, I took over the job.
Did your father teach you or did you just know it?
No, I did not study it at all. I was not trained. I am not educated. I used to observe my father whenever he had a client. I watched what he did before he died and when he died, I took over.
When did he die?
I don’t know the year. I don’t even know my age; I just believe that I should be up to 40. I’m not educated. I did not go to school.
Do people usually come to you for a consultation?
Yes, they do come for consultation. They come to ask about things and I help them check them and tell them the step they need to take. Sometimes, I would be on the farm and they would call me to check things for them.
How did you find yourself in the police net?
Some girls came for a consultation.
To unravel what?
The sum of N1,000 went missing in a hairdresser’s salon where the girls worked and they came to check it. They were all apprentices there. They said they wanted to know about what happened in their shop and who stole it. I asked them to pay N700 and I brought out my material and asked them to speak to it, and I started checking it. They told me that there were three other people involved. Initially, only two people came for the consultation. I told them to come with others the next day because I had to attend a meeting.
What happened the following day?
The following morning, nine of them came and I took my ‘oracle’ and checked it. They wrote their names on paper and read them to me one after the other because I don’t know how to read. When they read the names, I started checking one after the other until it (‘oracle’) picked one. I told them that it had caught one person. I continued checking and it picked another person. I told them to be patient because if I spoke to them there, they would not confess. So, I took them inside my inner consultation room one after the other, and the two of them confessed. The first person said though she had been stealing things there (hairdressers’ salon) for a long time but she did not steal the missing N1,000. However, she told me to cover up for her and not expose her.
What did you do?
I told her to go. I called on the rest until it was the turn of the second person (whose name was picked by the ‘oracle’). I told her to confess and she did. I told her to respect my consultation room because of the presence of the deities by not telling a lie. She said she had been stealing things there for a long time and she was responsible for the missing money. I asked her how many times she had stolen something from the salon and she said three times; She also said she stole biscuits. She said the person left her bag and she stole money and biscuits there. I asked her why she did that and she said she was hungry. I asked if she was not given money at home and she was given. I then asked her what she wanted me to do to help her and what she would give me. She said she did not have anything except the N200 at the salon.
What did you tell her?
I told her I didn’t need her N200. I told her to let us date. She said if I want to date or marry her, I must be prepared to meet her parents and I said I was ready. I told her to let us have intercourse and she agreed. Immediately, she removed her trousers and lay flat on a mat in the room and we had intercourse in the room. While we were doing it (having intercourse), others were waiting outside and we could not stay together for long.
What happened after the intercourse?
When she got out, others asked her why she took so long and that was when she started crying. When they got to the salon and she was still crying, they asked her again and she said I slept with her.
How were you arrested?
I had a meeting the next day. I was at the meeting when I was called to return home. I told the person who called me that I would not go home till about 2pm. Upon getting home, I saw a crowd in front of my house. When I asked some people there what happened, they told me that the kabiyesi wanted to see me for a consultation. I went in to carry the instrument and gave someone N500 to buy alcohol since it was Kabiyesi. The person I sent took some time before coming back. When he came, he said we should go to the palace together since that was where I would do the consultation for the monarch. As I was being led to the palace, I heard many motorcyclists saying that they would break my head, and threatening to beat and kill me. When I got to the palace, the kabiyesi asked me what happened but I could not confess to him and that was when he ordered some policemen to arrest me. It was the youths that took me to the police. I was taken to a police station and I spent the night there.
What happened at the police station?
At the station, I explained everything to the police but I saw hell before I got to the station because the youth beat me till I got there.
Did you know the girl you slept with was a minor?
Yes, I knew but she did not tell me her age.
Another one said you attempted to sleep with her. Is that true?
No, I did not sleep with her. I only asked her to go. She did not give me anything.
The others requested I tell them who the culprit was but I told them to go and that I would call them later.
Do you live with your wife?
Where was she when you were having intercourse with the minor?
I live in a two-bedroom apartment. One of the rooms is used for my work and my wife stays in the other one.
Was she around when you committed the act?
Yes, she was at home while I was doing it. She was making pap in the backyard. She was sick.
What is wrong with her?
She is a nursing mother.
Was that why you slept with a minor?
I don’t know. I don’t understand. I swear to God, It was the devil’s work. I did not know what came over me. The kabiyesi said that whoever committed that act would face the law but I’m still begging him.
Are you admitting that you raped her?
No. As soon as I asked her to let us have it (intercourse), she laid down. I did not force her. I did not even touch her pants. She removed them herself.
Did she not shout for help?
No, she did not. It was even fast. We could not even do it well because her colleagues were calling her repeatedly. It did not even take up to two minutes because her colleagues were disturbing us. She had to hurriedly leave and join her colleagues. It was a one-minute pleasure that landed me in trouble.
Why did you not consider that she was too young for that?
Hmm, but she was ripe and that was not her first time.
How did you know that?
She said it and she even said that she had a boyfriend, though he was not in Oja-Odan. I wanted to help her because her colleagues might beat her up and put her to shame. She did not want to be put to shame. She begged me to help her by not disclosing what I found out.
Does that mean you deceived her with a marriage promise?
I did not deceive her. If she had come back after, I would have gone to meet her parents and married her. A herbalist can even marry three (wives).
You would have been happy marrying a thief?
Yes, there is an antidote for it. I would someone you claimed to be have helped her to remove the disease. It is a disease and if she had come back and married me I would have prepared the antidote for her. There are many things that I could have done to make her stop stealing. There are even antidotes for drunkards.
As a herbalist, what happens to people who commit such a crime?
I don’t know.
Why did you not revere the ‘oracle’ or see what you did before it as an abomination?
I don’t worship the oracle. I only worship Ogun (god of iron) and it was not in the room. I put it in front of my yard. Help me. I don’t know what happened to me. Please, help me.