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Crime & Punishment of Thursday, 29 April 2021

Source: The Nation

Alleged rape: Outrage over rumoured plans to release Baba Ijesha

Purported plans to release Nollywood actor Olanrewaju James popularly known as Baba Ijesha have drawn the ire of Nigerians.

The Nation reports the 48-year-old actor was apprehended for allegedly defiling a minor.

Since the news came to the fore, several Yoruba entertainers have expressed divergent views on the matter.

While some appeared sympathetic to Baba Ijesha’s plight, others are drumming support in the fight for justice for the defiled minor.

Iyabo Ojo, in a recent Instagram live video, lamented some celebrities were trying to use their influence to secure the release of Baba Ijesha.

“If they release baba ijesha we are going to rearrest him… as long as I live, I will stand with this girl,” She vowed.

Reports emerged on Thursday a directive had been given for the release of the actor from custody.

This, it was gathered, maybe due to the ongoing strike by members of the Judicial Staff Union of Nigeria(JUSUN), which has forced courts from sitting and the suspect could not be detained indefinitely without trial.

On April 22, The Nation reported the Lagos State police command arrested the actor for allegedly raping a minor.

The Lagos State Police spokesperson, Olumuyiwa Adejobi, said preliminary findings revealed the suspect allegedly began sexually assaulting the victim, 14 since she was seven-year-old.

Princess later clarified that her colleague only raped the minor twice “and not for seven years as the police claimed”.

Reacting to the news, many Nigerians expressed worries over the criminal justice system, especially on rape matters.

Activist Lawyer Festus Ogun explained: “On Baba Ijesha, we must be careful. While I am no supporter of rape and sexual molestation, I daresay social media mob justice cannot take the place of law.

"Baba Ijesha is entitled to a fair trial and due process. We must do away with emotions and allow the course of justice to prevail.”

Lola Okunrin said: “Releasing Baba Ijesha is like putting his life in danger. Imagine walking in Oshodi and hearing a thunderous slap on his neck from the back. Lock him up.”

Ayoola Babalola argued: “While the emotional reaction of Iyabo Ojo is valid, Emotions and Legal logic do not mix.

“Indecent Assault is a bailable offence and it would be against Baba Ijesha’s constitutional right to detain him indefinitely since courts are on strike. Illegality cannot cure illegality.”

Anastasia stated: “I am not surprised that Baba Ijesha is about to be released. This is why sexual assault is so prevalent in Nigeria.

“The rapists are still on the streets and the Intending ones can see that nothing will happen to them if they become rapists.”

Smart Olukayode queried: “I thought Baba Ijesha confessed to the crime and there’s CCTV footage that showed him touching the Child inappropriately. Unless the Nigerian Police is mad, on what ground are they releasing him?”

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