Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo of the Lagos State Domestic Violence and Sexual Offences Court, Ikeja, on Thursday sentenced a Nollywood actor, Olanrewaju Omiyinka, aka Baba Ijesha, to 16 years imprisonment for defilement.
The judge sentenced him after he was found guilty of four out of six counts brought against him by the Lagos State Government.
Baba Ijesha was arraigned on six counts of child defilement, indecent treatment of a child, sexual assault, attempted sexual assault by penetration, and sexual assault by penetration.
He pleaded not guilty to the charges.
However, Closed-Circuit Television Video footage, detailing his relationship with the victim said to be a minor, was played in court.
While delivering judgement, Justice Taiwo said the prosecution failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant was guilty of all the charges.
The defendant was exonerated of the charges of sexual assault by penetration with his car key, which reportedly happened seven years ago, and attempted sexual assault by penetration, which reportedly happened during another encounter in April 2021.
The court, however, found him guilty and convicted him of indecent treatment of a child and sexual assault of a minor between 2013 and 2014.
The judge held that the prosecution successfully proved counts two and three that he indecently placed the survivor on his lap and rubbed his private parts on her body.
He was also found guilty of counts four and five, where he was accused of indecently touching the minor and sexually assaulting her by rubbing her body and sucking her fingers.
The court held that the convict confessed that he molested the child in 2021.
Justice Taiwo said, “The court can convict a person based on his confession. The defendant was consistent in his admission in the two videos.
“The pain of the first prosecution witness, Damilola Princess, was real; the victim was scared and we could see the fear 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 cannot stand as the law states that anyone under the age of 18 years is regarded as a child.
“The defendant may not have thought of having sex with the survivor on that day, but he aroused her by sucking her fingers and rubbing her body.
“I hereby find the defendant guilty of counts two to five and he is discharged of counts one and six,” she added.
The court reviewed the testimony of a medical expert, two witnesses, a forensic analyst, a child expert, and a medical doctor that there was blunt penetration of the vaginal, but said they could not ascertain the time.
The defence counsel, K.K. Oladiran, in his allocutus, urged the court to consider the pain the defendant passed through in detention at the State Criminal Investigation Department, Yaba, and the Kirikiri Custodial Centre, adding that he was already remorseful.
Oladiran said, “The defendant is an actor by profession who has impacted lives positively in the course of his career and has aged parents, wife and a son to look after. He is now a changed person and will not go back to his mistakes. We urge your lordship to be merciful to the defendant with the least penalty.”
The prosecuting counsel, Dr Babajide Martins, urged the court to allow the law take its cause.
The judge, while sentencing the convict, said, “This is very sad; the behaviour of the defendant is appalling. The case shows the length people can go in exhibiting the animalistic urge in them in abuse of the position of friendship. The defendant took his acting too far. Children are frequently preyed on because of their inability to defend themselves.
“The defendant is hereby sentenced to five years’ imprisonment on count two; three years on count three; five years on count four; and three years on count five. The sentence is to run concurrently, starting from the day he was convicted.”
Baba Ijesha after the judgment broke down in tears, weeping and saying he did not commit the offence.
He was, however, surrounded by his colleagues in the movie industry, who consoled him.
One of his friends, Yomi Fabiyi, said the convict had the right to appeal the judgement.
Fabiyi said, “The person being accused and convicted still has an ample opportunity to challenge the ruling of this court to prove his innocence until he has exhausted all his limits.”
The guardian of the minor, Princess, who was in London, United Kingdom, when the judgement was delivered, took to her Instagram page, lip-singing a gospel song with a tag, ‘God is not man.’
The lyrics read, “Rejoice with me, my disgrace has to turn celebration despite the shame I have been made to go through.”
Her friend, Iyabo Ojo, while reacting in the comment section, said, “This victory is for all the girl child and boy being abused. Never be afraid to speak up and speak out.”