14th July, 2022
By Adenike Ayodele
An Ikeja Special Offences Court has sentenced Nollywood actor, Olanrewaju Omiyinka James, alias Baba Ijesha, to 16 years in jail for sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl.
Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo, in a two-hour judgement on Thursday, convicted Baba Ijesha of indecent treatment of a child, sexual assault and attempted sexual assault
Taiwo, however, discharged and acquitted him of count one and count six, which were: sexual assault by penetration and attempted sexual assault by penetration.
Baba Ijesha faced six counts of child defilement that include indecent treatment of a child, sexual assault, attempted sexual assault by penetration and sexual assault by penetration.
The Lagos State Directorate of Public Prosecutions, which proffered the charges against the actor, argued that the offences contravene Section 135, 137, 261, 202, 262 and 263 of the Lagos State Criminal Law 2015, which stipulates life imprisonment for offenders.
Baba Ijesha pleaded not guilty to all the counts.
Delivering the judgement, Justice Taiwo said that the prosecution failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant was guilty of all the charges against him.
However, she found the defendant guilty of four of the six counts against him.
The judge, however, discharged and acquitted him of count one and six which were sexual assault by penetration (which took place in 2014) and attempted sexual assault by penetration, which took place in 2021).
She further held that the medical report was inconclusive as the medical examiner could not show if the lacerations that occurred was the one of seven years ago or a recent one.
“The question here is that penetration occurred seven years prior to the one that happened in 2021 but we do not know by whom or the time it occurred.
“The survivor never reported that particular incident to her mother at that time and therefore any injury on the vagina could have vanished seven years ago.
“The survivor herself told the court that she was easily distracted by boys and one uncle Damola assaulted her.
Taiwo held that the confessional statement of the convict that he romanced the survivor seven years after the first incident by licking her fingers and arousing her but denied inserting keys in her private part.
“The defendant confessed that he molested the girl in 2021.
“The court can convict a person based on his confessions. The defendant was consistent in his admission in the two videos.
“The pain of the first prosecution witness (Princess) was real. The girl was scared and we could see the fears I her eyes while she was giving her evidence before the court. She was compelled to make her evidence.
“The argument of the defence that the prosecution failed to state the exact age of the survivor can not stand as the law states that anyone under the age of 18 years is regarded as a child.
“The defendant may not have the thought of having sex with the survivor on that day but he aroused her by sucking her fingers and rubbing her body. He did not take off his clothes while arousing her.
“I hereby find the defendant guilty of count two to five and he is discharged of counts one and six.
“The defendant is here by sentenced to five years imprisonment for count two, three years for count three, five years for count four and three years for count five.
” The sentencing should run concurrently because of the allocutus and must take effect from today, July 14, ” the judge held.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the defence counsel, Mr Gabriel Olabiran, in his allocutus, prayed the court to consider the least sentence to the convict so as not to be deserted by his colleagues
Olabiran said that the convict was a first offender who had passed through trauma of incarceration both at Panti and in Kirikiri Correctional Centre.
“There is no doubt that the defendant is very remorseful. My lord, we pray you consider th fact that the defendant is an actor who has impacted positively to the society in the course of his career.
“We urge your lordship to be lenient with the defendant who has lost almost all his image all over the world ND will be deserted by his colleagues in the movie industry.
“He has an aged parents, wife and son who depend on him and they look up to him coming back home. We assure the court that the defendant is a changed person who will not go back to his vomit.
“We urge the court to be merciful unto him and consider the least sentence,” Olabiran said.
The prosecution team led by the Director of the Department of Public Prosecution (DPP), Dr Babajide Martins, however, left the sentencing at the discretion of the court.
“The law has taken his course. The offences that my lord has found the defendant liable have custodial sentencing.
“Count two is for seven years, count three is for four years, count four is liable for seven years and count five is for three years.
“We, however, leave the sentencing at the discretion of the court.,” Martin said.
NAN reports that Baba Ijesha was arraigned before Taiwo on June 24, 2019 on six counts of indecent treatment of a child, sexual assault, attempted sexual assault by penetration and sexual assault by penetration.
According to the prosecution team, Baba Ijesha sexually assaulted the 14-year-old foster daughter of actress and comedienne, Ms Damilola Adekoya, Alias Princess, in her residence.
The prosecution presented six witnesses to testify against Baba Ijesha during the trial.
The witnesses are actress and comedienne, Princess, the 14-year-old minor, a child expert, Mrs Olabisi Ajayi-Kayode, and medical doctor, Dr Aniekan Makanjuola.
Others were the Investigating Police Officer, ASP Wahab Kareem and a policewoman, Insp. Abigail Omane.
The DPP closed its case against the defendant on Dec. 15, 2021 while Baba Ijesha called four witnesses and closed its defence on April 1.
The defence witnesses were Baba Ijesha (defendant) and Mr Lawrence Ayeni, an expert in video production and CCTV installation and maintenance.
Mr Olukayode Olugbemi, a clinical psychologist and Mr Olukayode Ogunbanjo, the defendant’s friend and colleague also testified for the defence.
The offence, the prosecution said, contravened the provisions of sections 135, 259, 261, 262 and 263 of the Criminal Laws of Lagos State 2015