AN IKEJA Special Offences Court has sentenced a Nollywood actor, Olanrewaju Omiyinka, popularly known as Baba Ijesha, to 16 years imprisonment.
Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo sentenced Baba Ijesha on Thursday after convicting for sexually assaulting a 14-year-old minor.
The victim is the daughter of his colleague, actress and comedienne, Damilola Adekoya, aka Princess.
The Lagos State Directorate of Public Prosecutions filed a six-count charge bordering on child defilement against the actor.
The counts include indecent treatment of a child, sexual assault, attempted sexual assault by penetration and sexual assault by penetration.
The prosecution argued that the offenses contravene sections 135, 137, 261, 202, 262 and 263 of the Lagos State Criminal Law 2015, which stipulated life imprisonment for offenders.
Baba Ijesha had pleaded not guilty to all the counts, however, a Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) video recording detailing his encounter with the victim was played in court.
In the judgment delivered on Thursday, Justice Taiwo held that the prosecution failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of all the charges against him.
However, based on the evidence before the court, the judge found Baba Ijesha guilty of two of the six counts.
Baba Ijesha was arraigned on June 24, 2021.
The prosecution called six witnesses testified against the actor before closing its case on December 15, 2021.
Baba Ijesha called four witnesses, who testified in his favour, before closing his defense on April 1.
The defendant’s lawyer Dada Awosika had while adopting his final written urged the court to dismiss the suit and discharge the actor.
Awosika argued that the footage of the CCTV was illegally obtained and had been tampered with especially since the defendant did not go to the complainant’s house uninvited.
He also urged the court to discredit the defendant’s confessional statement, arguing that Baba Ijesha was manipulated to participate in a short skit that put him in trouble.
Awosika further argued that there’s also uncertainty over the age of the girl and urged the court to ensure that her actual age was established.
The Director of the Lagos State Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Babajide Martins, in his final written address, urged the court to convict Baba Ijesha as charged.
Martins argued that one of the defense witnesses, Lawrence Ayeni, told the court that the CCTV recording could not be manipulated.
“On the issue of the CCTV recording, the first defence witness (Ayeni) told this honourable court during cross-examination that it cannot be manipulated and that the content of CCTV cannot be changed.
“Most importantly, he said he cannot say if the sexual assault did not happen. These are the testimonies from the defence witness.
“The defendant admitted to have been with the girl in both the incident that happened seven years ago and the one that happened in 2021.
“He also admitted to have sucked her fingers during the cross-examination.
“On the issue of Administration of Criminal Justice Law (ACJL), the primary legislation supersedes the secondary legislation.
“On the issue of a medical certificate, the defendant said he did not have any issue with the medical doctor and had never met him when I cross-examined him.
“As a result, he has no reason to mislead the court,” the prosecution counsel said.
The DPP director further told the court that the definition of a child was anybody below the age of 18 years and that the prosecution had proven that the girl was below the age.
Martins added that Baba Ijesha also admitted during the trial that he never mentioned that he was acting a script when he was earlier detained by the police.
However, in the judgment that lasted about two hours on Thursday, the court convicted and sentenced Baba Ijesha for sexual assault.
Nurudeen Akewushola is an investigative reporter and fact-checker with The ICIR. He believes courageous in-depth investigative reporting is the key to social justice, accountability and good governance in the society. You can shoot him a scoop via [email protected] and @NurudeenAkewus1 on Twitter.