Akwa Ibom state born Utitofon Ekanem in this interview with OSUN CITIZEN’S Executive Editor; Dotun Olanibi explained how film producer; Kunle Afolayan produced a movie titled “CITATION”, which is an adaptation of a story centred around her real life experience when she was an undergraduate, without giving her any credit, years after discussing the story with him. Enjoy reading
Can we get to know you better?
My name is Utitofon Ekanem Nee Philip Hanson. I attended Ogba Grammar School, Ogba Ikeja, Lagos for my Secondary Education, then proceeded to Obafemi Awolowo University Ile Ife, Osun State, there, i Studied Political Science (Education) From the Department of Educational Foundation and Counselling, Faculty of Education. I graduated in 2007. I’m presently a Teacher.
You claimed that Kunle Afolayan’s movie; CITATION is your story, please, what do you mean by that?
Yes, it is a fact that the movie is my story because while seeing the movie i could see all that happened to me while i was schooling in the University mentioned earlier, i had an encounter with a lecturer an Associate Professor; S T Akindele.
It was purely a case of Sexual Harassment which was the core point of the movie.
Do you have any proof to substantiate your claim?
Yes i do have proves; first the movie is based on a true story, and the producer didn’t indicate the name of the victim neither did he give credit to anyone,the second is the location which was the same school i had the issue, third, the young lady acted as if she was studying Masters in International Relations which i actually applied for before being given Political Science Education. Forth, the young Lady petitioned the lecturer on Sexual Harassment which was exactly what happened in my case, a panel was set up by the University Management which also happened to me and during the panel’s sitting, some students came to testify which also happened in my case.
The whole school was on the edge, students protested in favor of the young lady, though she was constantly reminded that if she fails to prove her case she will be expelled from school, that also happened to me. While she was at the faculty of Law canteen, her course mate approached her with a poster and told her “be careful that you are not being used” that happened to me too. there were posters every where about my case such that it was difficult to walk freely on campus, that happened to the young lady too.
Towards the end of the movie, Joke Silver assured her that she will surely get a favorable case because she got an information that in the last school the lecturer taught, about six ladies also testified to the fact that the lecturer sexually harassed them, that also happend in my case because the lecturer i had issues with also had similar cases in Ikire where he taught before coming to OAU.
To crown it all, the writer of the moive Tunde Babalola graduated from OAU.
Have you tried to get in touch with Kunle regarding this matter and what was his response?
Yes, when My room mate contacted me from the UK the moment she watched the movie, she told me she has watched it over and over again and she was praying that while she was watching the first time she thought she will see my name at the end of the movie, she knew all i went through, i asked her who produced the movie, the moment she said Kunle Afolayan, i screamed and i told her that i had called Kunle some times in 2015, and told him my name, told him that i have a true story on sexual harassment, that i graduated from Obafemi Awolowo Univeristy, that i will like to have a meeting with him so we could talk more. Note that i called him because i watched his movie titled October 1 and appreciated his work, hence, that prompted me to want to do my true story with him, i went to his website and picked his phone number which i still have till date.
He said someone will call me and fix an appointment for me to come to his office, i was so happy. so i kept waiting but the call never came.
One thing led to another, i had started writing my story so i was not bothered for i had told myself whether its him or not, one day i will make a story out of this. So she (my friend in The UK; Kemi) immediately asked me ‘how did i get his number’ i told her i went to his website and saw his number, so i called and he picked, she screamed and said to me how can you make such a mistake? at that point i made up my mind to call the number again, so immediately i was done with the movie, i called my lawyer and he said “well you called him a long time ago, so call him again and remind him and tell him about what you saw”, he said we should hear from him, I called him he didn’t pick my calls, i went to his website again to confirm the number there in his website the same number was there but the last four digits was asterisked. I sent a text and promised to call by 4pm that same day, yes i called again but he didn’t pick and again i dropped a text but no reply.
When i had done that no reply, i decided to get in touch with the presenter of the program he was recently interviewed on where he talked about CITATION. The program is called’Rubbin Minds’ on Channels Television, i went to the Lagos office of Channels Television along Lagos Ibadan Express way and i was referred to their website, i went there nothing was given, no phone numbers, nothing. My sister got the presenter’s number and gave me, and i called the presenter; Ebuka Obi-Uchendu to tell him my side of the story, but he didn’t pick my calls, i sent a text he didn’t reply, i called the following week the same thing happened and i still dropped a text.
I’m disappointed that Ebuka, a presenter that was supposed to return my text to at least hear my side of the story never did till the point of this interview.
We learnt your lawyer has already written a letter to Kunle and Kunle has refused to respond, how true is that?
Yes, having exhausted all avenues, my lawyer had to write to Kunle Afolayan, and to show that he has been seeing all my calls and my texts, he also refused to honor the letter.
This i could understand that it was deliberate, when he told the Punch Journalist that spoke with him that he has told his staff to ignore the letter as i read in Punch Newspaper.
What exactly do you want from Kunle?
I want compensation. i want some credit. I went through mental pains throughout that period, he should not wake up and take all the glory. I’m so glad he said in the Channels interview that it is a true story, and he was asked how he got it and he said ‘the story fell on his laps’. Let him come out and tell the world how a true story fell from the sky.
What if Kunle insists that the story belongs to someone else and not you?
If he has a lady it happened to the same way it happened in the movie let him come out with the lady. I’m also happy he said in his interview that when doing a true story ‘you look for other things to make it robust’ so it means that the French and Portuguese Languages and the Senegal trip were side attractions. Tell him thank you for giving me good points for i have a handfull, please walk into OAU today and ask about my story, go to my department in Faculty of Education, go to the Department of Political Science, do not sit there to judge me you were never in my shoes.
Yes, there was another Akindele’s case of sexual harassment that was audio recorded by a student, that is a different case entirely, i even commented on that one the moment i listened to it on Facebook.
What prompted you to come out to say all these things because one can easily assume that you just want to tarnish Kunle’s image?
I do not know kunle Afolayan from Adam except when i called him sometimes ago. I do not have any reason to want to tarnish his image, that was why i followed my lawyer’s advice when he said try all you can to reach him, if you can not reach him reach out to Ebuka, i’m sure by the time you tell Ebuka he will surely get to him. it is a case of you took what belongs to me and produced without my knowledge, i want us to talk and if he feels it belongs to some else let him bring the person. But he has already said ‘the story fell on his laps’, all i want is compensation for my experience and pains, i went through it. At some point, i could not live in OAU alone, i could not walk freely, i had to disguise most times because of threats, i had to keep writing the University management to the point that they sent me a letter of commendation and protection, so he can not take the credit for someone else’s pains.
You said you were already planning to make your story a movie already before this happened, as it is now, what’s your next step?
Yes, i will still go ahead to do what i had in mind, it may be a movie, or a book but i will do something out of that experience irrespective of what he did, i need compensation i want it, it is my right.
If this case goes to court, do you think you stand a chance?
Yes, any day any time.