Charles Novia writes on Stephaine okereke’s brother Rape scandal

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NOVIA’S NOTE: Stephanie Linus ( nee Okereke) a Nollywood actress recently put out a reproduced statement below about a rape case involving her brother, Daniel Okereke , who is accused of raping a Unilag undergraduate and currently has a criminal case against him with the Police in Lagos.

Reading the statement, I could not help but feel pity and admiration for Stephanie. Indeed, it is a harrowing experience to have a family member accused of such a despicable and heinous crime and it is even more traumatic to be linked with the accused as if by being related by blood, she is culpable too in the crime. Using recent templates in entertainment, one should ask if Brandy Norwood was culpable when Ray J leaked the sex videos of Kim Kardashian a few years ago? Or some other examples I cannot remember at present?

The truth is that in law, each one is judged by their own actions and Stephanie is not in any way under the limelight for a crime which she knew nothing of. For that, I wholly sympathize with her and pray for comfort for her and other members of her family at this trying period. No matter the outcome of the case, there will always be a suspicion that Daniel Okereke did something to blacken the family name and the outcry against rape has been passionate (and rightly so) in the past decade in Nigeria. I support any action taken against rapists by the law courts and while the onus of proof lies with Daniel to prove his innocence, there is no gainsaying that this case is going to be a watershed in Nigeria’s legal system for the interest it has generated. In a way, the family name is a respected name in both the business and entertainment sectors and a high profile case such as this will involve much microscopic scrutiny.

I commend Stephanie’s bravery in bringing out the statement below. She has proved by her action to be a worthy role model for a present generation.

Stephanie’s Statement:

‘I am distraught and devastated to hear of the recent allegation of rape brought against a relative of mine, Daniel Okereke (my brother).
While it is a very difficult time for me, and my family; I feel the need to make clear my position, lest there be any doubt. Rape is rape, regardless of who the face of the accused is.
Indeed, the irony is not lost on me. I have spent my lifelong career advocating and living my conviction that women around the world should be able to live free of violence, sexual harassment or any form of abuse against their persons. This conviction led me to be involved in numerous initiatives combating violence against women in several countries including the U.S, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
The conviction also led me to place much of my energy on my work with Vesico Vaginal Fistula (VVF), a passion that dates back to my time at the University of Calabar.
As a student, I heard a story about young girls who had been forced into early marriage and were suffering the negative and embarrassing effects of VVF. The story stayed in my consciousness and drove me, for years, to seek ways to raise awareness on the condition; leading to my work with a team of dedicated doctors to carry out repair surgeries for VVF victims across the country; and my self-produced, soon to be released movie, ‘DRY.’
So, again, it is indeed heart breaking for me to receive and deal with news alleging a family member of mine is an alleged perpetrator of sexual violence against a woman. I am devastated.
This case is now in Nigeria’s criminal justice system as the accused awaits arraignment. I have also encouraged and assured the alleged victim of my stance against rape and applaud her for her bravery to upset the culture of silence, in Nigeria; even as I accord deference and patiently wait for the criminal justice system to determine the guilt or innocence of my brother.
For Nigerian press and blogs; I call on you to please report this case in an ethical manner. I am a married woman living my life. The alleged transgression of my relative does not make it mine. The focus should be the impact of rape on the alleged victim, and resources for other alleged victims, not me.
Some members of the press and blogs have turned me into the accuser; using my name for sensational headlines and putting my images, exclusively, in their stories. This is a form of victimization of me as a woman, its unethical and extremely hurtful. I am not the alleged accused.
I therefore please ask all bloggers and the media who have placed my pictures and name to this story to refrain from further using me to sensationalise this story.
I thank my fans, and all well-wishers for your continued support and ask for your continued prayers.
God bless.’

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