Updated: Court sends Baba Ijesha to 16-year imprisonment

Court sentences Baba Ijesha to five years Court sentences Baba Ijesha to five years

A Lagos Special Offenses Court sitting in Ikeja has sentenced Nollywood Actor, Olanrewaju James aka Baba Ijesha to a 16-year imprisonment for four counts of sexual assault and indecent treatment of a child.

Upon his conviction, Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo handed down sentences of 5 years for count 2, 3 years for count 3, 5 years for count 4, and 3 years for count 5. But the judge ordered that the sentencing should run concurrently.

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The Lagos State Government arraigned Baba Ijesha in June 2021 on a six-count charge of defiling and sexually assaulting a 14-year-old minor in 2013/2014,as well as the indecent treatment of a child, sexual assault, and for an attempted sexual assault by penetration of the same child in 2021.

The prosecution presented six witnesses including the minor, comedienne, Damilola Adekoya, aka Princess who is her foster mother, and two expert witnesses – child forensic expert, Olabisi Ajayi-Kayode and a medical doctor, Aniekan Makanjuola.

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While, four witnesses, ie the defendant, a video producer, a psychologist and a friend testified for the defence.

On the earlier incident where Baba Ijesha was said to have defiled the minor with his car key around 2013, the court said the evidence of the state was inconclusive as to whether the defendant was guilty, as the medical examination of the victim done in 2021 showed a blunt penetration of her private part, but it didn’t state who did it and with what.

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But, The court said it was inclined to believe the state’s expert witness who examined the minor as against the defence witness who admitted during cross examination that he never assessed her.

On the CCTV recording of the 2021 encounter, where Baba Ijesha was seen rubbing the minor’s body and sucking her fingers, the court dismissed his argument that they were acting out a scene for a skit, and called it an afterthought, because he never mentioned it during police interrogation and was only seen in that video to be apologizing.

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Though, he would retract his confessional statement made during custody, the court relied on his demeanor in the recording saying he attempted to arouse the child and not necessarily to have sex with her as alleged.
The court also ruled that the victim was still a minor at all material times.

But, Justice Taiwo acquited the actor of counts 1 and 6, which border on defiling a child with his Car key in 2013 as well as, attempted sexual assault by penetration in April 2021.

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In convicting the defendant on the other counts, the court found him guilty of indecent treatment of a child and sexual assault of a minor between 2013 and 2014.

The court held that the prosecution successfully proved counts 2 and 3 that he indecently placed the survivor on his laps and rubbed his private part on her body.

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He was also found guilty of counts 4 and 5, where he was accused of again indecently touching the same minor and sexually assaulting her seven years later by rubbing her body and sucking her fingers.

The court held that 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.

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“The pain of the first prosecution witness (Damilola Adekoya aka Princess) was real. The girl was scared and we could see the fears in 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.

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“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 found the defendant guilty of count two to five and he is discharged of counts one and six. The defendant is hereby sentenced to 5 years imprisonment for count two, 3 years for count three, 5 years for count 4 and 3 years for count five.” The sentence are to run concurrently starting from the day he was convicted.

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The court held that the review of medical expert, the testimony of the two expert witnesses, child forensic analyst, Olabisi Ajayi-Kayode and a medical doctor, Dr. Aniekan Makanjuola that there was blunt penetration of the virginal but they cannot ascertain the time.

“The time has elapsed on the assault and the medical examination, the injury would have been erase since seven years ago.

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After he was found guilty, defendant counsel, Mr. Kayode Olabiran prayed for the court to temper justice with mercy.

He said the defendant is a first time offender who has passed through the hospital trauma of incarceration both at Kirikiri Correctional facility and Panti when he was arrested and remanded.

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” There is no doubt that the defendant is remorseful. We pray my lord to 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 and will be deserted by his colleagues in the movie industry.

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“He has 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.”

Responding, the Prosecution team led by the Lagos State Director of Public Prosecution, Dr Babajide Martins, left sentencing atthe discretion of the court.

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“The law has taken its course. The offences that my lord has found the defendant liable for 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.

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“We, however, leave the sentencing at the discretion of the court,” Martins said.
The judge while sentencing the convict said, this case bring to the lime light of cases in the society despite the effort of government and the non governmental organization to sensitive the public on the

” The is very sad. The behavior of the defendant is appalling, the case shows the length people can go in exhibiting the animalistic urge in them in abuse the position of friendship.

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” The defendant took his acting too far. Children are frequently preyed on because of their inability to defend themselves.” The judge said the sentence is to run concurrently.

After the judgment, Baba Ijesha broke down in tears, weeping and saying he did not commit the offence. Some of his colleagues surrounded him and consoled him.

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