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Baba Ijesha: Court of Appeal reserves judgment on appeal questioning conviction


The Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal, Igbosere, yesterday, reserved judgment on the appeal instituted by the convicted and jailed Nollywood actor, Olanrewaju James, popularly called Baba Ijesha, confronting his being convicted by Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo (rtd) of the Lagos State Domestic Violence and Sexual Offences Court, Ikeja, for sexual assault of a minor.

The Court of Appeal, presided over by Justice Folasade Ojo, arrived at the decision after entertaining arguments from the appellant and the respondent.

Other members of the Court of Appeal panel are Justice Abdullahi Bayero and Justice Paul Bassi.

In his notice of appeal designated CA/LAG/CR/544/23, Baba Ijesha is asking the appellate court to set aside the judgment of the lower court.

It would be recalled that Justice Taiwo (rtd) had on July 14, 2022, sentenced Baba Ijesha to five years imprisonment over the sexual assault of a minor.

The retired judge had given the verdict after Baba Ijesha was found guilty of four out of six counts, in suit number ID/14623C/2021 made against him by the Lagos State Government (LASG).

The LASG had through its counsel, Dr Babajide Matins, filed a six-count bordering on indecent treatment of a child, sexual assault, attempted sexual assault by penetration and sexual assault by penetration against the convict.

But the court found Baba Ijesha guilty of indecent treatment of a child and sexual assault of a minor between 2013 and 2014, which the prosecution insisted is contrary to Section 135 of Lagos State Criminal Law 2015.

The judge exonerated Baba Ijesha of the offence of sexual assault by penetration, which deals with allegedly sexually assaulting the minor by penetration with his car key seven years ago and attempted sexual assault by penetration during another encounter with the minor on April 22, 2021.

Justice Taiwo declared that the LASG proved counts two and three that he indecently placed the survivor on his lap and rubbed his penis on her body.

The trial judge specifically in her judgment maintained that the convict confessed that he molested the girl in 2021.

According to Justice Taiwo, “The court can convict a person based on his confessions. The convict was consistent in his admission in the two videos.

“The argument of the defence that the prosecution failed to state the exact age of the survivor cannot stand as the law states that anyone under the age of 18 years is regarded as a child.”

But not satisfied with the verdict, Baba Ijesha through his counsel, Kayode Olabiran, headed for the Court of Appeal wherein he prayed for a declaration that his conviction and sentence were done in error.

When the matter came up for hearing before the appellate court, Baba Ijesha’s counsel, Olabiran, told the Court of Appeal that the prosecution could not prove that Baba Ijesha sexually assaulted the victim.

While stating that the appeal was initiated on June 1, 2023, Olabiran said, “The charge itself is centred on defilement of a minor, but the prosecution was unable to prove the age of the victim.

“The appellant was set up. The appellant is an actor. He acted in a script that he was invited to act by his colleague (PW1), Damilola Adekoya.

“(PW1) Damilola Adekoya, asked the appellant to come and act on a script. It is in the statement of PW1, at Panti Police Station. Unknowingly to the appellant, there was CCTV in the sitting room.

“Whatever we watched in that movie was a script by the producer and the video of the scene of the acting was tendered by the prosecution.

“Based on his confessional statement as at the day of the arrest, he was under duress and there were so many people who were beating him that was when he confessed to the offence.”

However, Olabiran prayed to the upper court to allow the appeal and set aside the judgment of the lower court.

Responding, Dr Martins prayed to the court to dismiss the appeal as it is lacking in merit and also a misconception.

The LASG’s counsel further prayed to the Appeal Court to affirm the judgment of the lower court delivered on July 14, 2022, which convicted Baba Ijesha of indecent treatment of a child and sexual assault.

Addressing the court on the age of the victim, Dr Martins submitted that the victim had informed the lower court that she was born on October 6, 2006, which puts her age at 14, in 2013 when the offence was committed.

Dr Martins, said, “At the time she provided evidence in 2021, she was 17 years old, which still makes her a child.”

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