By Adenike Ayodele
Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo of an Ikeja Special Offences Court on Thursday held that Nollywood actor, Olanrewaju James, alias Baba Ijesha, convicted for defiling a 14-year-old, took his acting too far.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Taiwo sentenced Baba Ijesha to 16 years’ imprisonment for defiling a minor.
The judge sentenced the convict to five years’ imprisonment on count two, three years on count three, five years on count four and three years on count five of the six~count charge he faced.
She, however, said that the sentencing, which must take effect from July 14, should should run concurrently.
“The defendant took his acting too far. Children are frequently preyed on because of their inability to defend themselves.
“However, the court is not distracted. The defendant abused the position of friendship.
“This case brings to the limelight various sexual assault cases in the society despite the efforts of government and non-governmental organisations to sensitise the public on incessant cases of sexual assault.
“The is very sad. The behaviour of the defendant is appalling, as this shows the length people can go in exhibiting the animalistic urge in them,” she said.
The judge remarked that the case attracted frivolous comments on social media because of the personality of the actor.
NAN reports that Baba Ijesha broke down in tears after the judge pronounced the judgment.
He was surrounded by his colleagues in the movie industry.
NAN also reports that his counsel, Mr Gabriel Olabiran, had prayed the court to consider the least sentence for him.
Olabiran said that the convict was a first-time offender and had passed through trauma of incarceration both at the State Criminal Investigation Department, Panti, Yaba, and at the Kirikiri Custodial Centre.
“There is no doubt that the defendant is very remorseful. My lord, we pray you to consider the fact that the defendant is an actor who has impacted positively on 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.
“He has an aged parents, wife and son who depend on him; 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,” Olabiran said.
Prosecution team led by Lagos State Director of Public Prosecution, Dr Babajide Martins, left the sentencing at the discretion of the court.
“The law has taken its course. The offences that my lord has found the defendant liable 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.
“We, however, leave the sentencing at the discretion of the court,” Martins said.
Baba Ijesha faced six counts of child defilement that included indecent treatment of a child, sexual assault, attempted sexual assault by penetration and sexual assault by penetration.
The Lagos State Directorate of Public Prosecutions, which proffered the charges against the actor, argued that the offences contravened Section 135, 137, 261, 202, 262 and 263 of the Lagos State Criminal Law 2015, which stipulates up to life imprisonment for offenders.
Baba Ijesha pleaded not guilty to all the counts on arraignment.