The Court of Appeal, Lagos has reserved judgement in the appeal filed by a Nollywood actor, Olanrewaju Omiyinka James, alias Baba Ijesha challenging his conviction by a Lagos State High Court over the sexual assault of a minor.

The three-member panel led by Justice Folasade Ojo reserved the judgement on Tuesday after listening to arguments of the appellant and the respondent. Other members of the panel are Justice Abdullahi Bayero and Justice Paul Bassi.

Baba Ijesha in his Notice of Appeal marked CA/LAG/CR/544/23 asked the appellate court to set side the judgement of the lower court. He was convicted by Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo (now retired) of the Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Court, Ikeja on July 14, 2022 and sentenced to five years imprisonment over the sexual assault of a minor.

The judge found him guilty of four counts out of six counts preferred against him by the Lagos State government in Suit Number ID/14623C/2021.

Dissatisfied with the judgement, Baba Ijesha through his counsel, Mr. Kayode Olabiran, approached the appeal court praying it to declare that his conviction and sentence were done in error.

At the hearing of the appeal on Tuesday, Baba Ijesha’s counsel Olabiran told the court that the appeal was filed on June 1, 2023.

He argued that the prosecution could not prove that Baba Ijesha sexually assaulted the victim. Olabiran said “The charge itself is centred on defilement of a minor but the prosecution couldn’t 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 Appeallant to come and act a script. It is in the statement of PW1, at Panti Police Station, unknowingly to the appellant there was a 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.”

Olabiran urged the court to allow the appeal and set aside the judgement of the lower court delivered on July 14, 2022.

In his response, Martins urged the court to dismiss the appeal for lacking in merit and as a misconception.

He urged the court to affirm the judgement of the lower court which convicted Baba Ijesha of indecent treatment of a child and sexual assault.

On the age of the victim, Martins submitted that the victim said she was born on October 6, 2006, which puts her age at 14, in 2013 when the offence was committed.

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

After listening to the parties, the court reserved its judgement till a later date.

It is recalled that the state had through its Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Dr. Babajide Martins filed six counts bordering on indecent treatment of a child, sexual assault, attempted sexual assault by penetration and sexual assault by penetration against the convict.

The court found him guilty of indecent treatment of a child and sexual assault of a minor between 2013 and 2014, contrary to Section 135 of Lagos State Criminal Law 2015.

Justice Taiwo exonerated him on the offence of sexual assault by penetration which dealt with allegedly assaulting the minor sexually 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.

CASEFILE reports that Justice Taiwo had in her judgement held that the convict confessed that he molested the girl in 2021. “The court can convict a person based on his confessions. The convict was consistent in his admission in the two videos,”Justice Taiwo held.

“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.”

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