Alleged Contracted Assault on Mr Kunle Karimu
I have watched the viral video of Mr. Kunle Karimu (my former colleague in chambers) being assaulted by Policemen and I state without equivocation that I did not give any instruction to that effect and find his treatment reprehensible. The assault of any person (whether by a private citizen or law-enforcement officer) is unacceptable and should be deprecated.
I have become aware that a lot of public condemnation has followed the publication of the viral video, and much of that condemnation and opprobrium has been visited on me. It has been alleged that I treated Mr. Karimu badly as an employee and when he called at my office to demand his rights, I invited the Policemen to assault and threaten him. Mr Karimu has also put forward his own story making a number of allegations against me. I make bold to state, categorically, that the allegation that I contracted Policemen to assault him is untrue and an unwarranted smear campaign.
What really happened?
Mr. Kunle Karimu was employed in my law firm and assumed work on 3rd July, 2017 as a Junior Counsel. In my view as his supervisor, his performance on the job was less than satisfactory but as a responsible employer and a much older lawyer, I was loathe to dismiss him as I did not want to have his record tainted with a dismissal and I felt that he could be encouraged to improve. Eventually, it became clear that he could no longer continue with us and rather than dismiss him, he was advised at the end of May, 2018, to resign. He sent in his letter of resignation in early June and it was accepted. He was to work for the whole of June 2018 and receive his salary for June. I felt that he could use the one month period to look for another job.
Upon acceptance of his resignation in early June 2018, I issued him a cheque post-dated to 29th June, 2018 for his total June salary (which he accepted) – so that at the end of the month there would be a clean break. By our practice, salaries are paid either by cheque (which are pre-crossed from the bank) or bank transfer. Mr. Karimu did not complain about the cheque being crossed. About a week into June, 2018, Mr. Karimu became very disruptive in the office and was distracting the other staff. He was told to stop work on Friday 8th June, 2018 but still keep the salary already tendered to him for the whole of June 2018. Surprisingly, on Monday 11th June, 2018, he came to the office. When I saw him I insisted that his employment had ceased and he should leave. He left the office.
On the 29th of June, 2018, Mr. Karimu sent the cheque back through my secretary, who had gone to the bank for some transactions – with a message that I should open the cheque. I replied that he should pay in the cheque as he could well do ordinarily. He then barged into our office, came to my inner office and demanded forcefully that I open the cheque. He cut-off the CCTV monitor, locked the door to my inner office leaving me alone with him. I was apprehensive of what he might do and given that it was a glass door, I called out to one of the lawyers to proceed to Lion Building Police Station for help – fearing a breach of the peace and likely assault on my person. I did not call in thugs or engage in self-help. I believe that as a responsible citizen and officer of the law, I was entitled to call for the Police to arrest a worsening situation. However, I had no interaction with the policemen before the incident or during the incident.
Whilst waiting for the Police to arrive, Mr. Karimu suddenly unlocked the door to my inner office and went out. I thought it was all over, not knowing until much later that he actually went to lock up the main door to the office. He returned to my inner office to lock me in with him again and became agitated and started making phone calls. I heard him asking the person(s) on the other end of the phone whether they were set. He then called my secretary and told her to let my wife know what was happening to me.
Subsequently, he demanded that I make an immediate online transfer to him, which I refused to do (being apprehensive of the risk of logging into my online account under duress). My other colleagues in the office were calling and at a point I answered the phone and put it on speaker for the people outside to speak to Mr. Karimu, but he refused to engage with them and they could not enter my office, hence I eventually succumbed to his harassment and aggression and opened the crossed cheque to enable him cash same over the counter. This event transpired over a period of about 2 hours and my emotional state (being locked into my office and threatened by an aggressive and very hostile young man) could only be imagined.
Mr. Karimu then unlocked the door and left my office whilst I was still petrified and quavering about the drama that had just unfolded. At that point, two of the lawyers came to my office to inform me that Policemen were slapping him, and I instructed them to immediately tell the Policemen that they should leave Mr. Karimu alone and I was in any event not pressing any charges.
Throughout the incident (from the time Mr. Karimu barged in and locked the door up to the time the Policemen came and left with him), I was in my inner office and did not know or see what had happened as he had earlier cut-off the CCTV monitor. I state categorically that I did not order his beating as I had no right or power to and in any event that is not in my character. I am a firm believer in the rule of law and would not take any unlawful action against anybody (and especially not against a fellow colleague).
In this matter, I was a victim of the aggression and harassment of Mr. Kunle Karimu who had a valid cheque properly signed by me in his hand but insisted on holding me hostage and under subtle threat in my office until I opened the cheque for him to cash over the counter. If I had been strangled or harmed in any other way by him, I guess the narration would be very different now.
Now, however, I have been vilified and called all manner of names by some colleagues and others who have not bothered to hear my own side of the story. Happily, there are witnesses who can testify as to what happened in my office that day.
I end by reiterating that the Policemen were invited to prevent a breakdown of law and order within the confines of the law
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