The sexual molestation allegation against Yoruba actor, James Olanrewaju, popularly known as Baba Ijesha has caused division and controversies among movie stars in the country.
The Yoruba comic actor was arrested on April 19 by the Lagos State Police Command following the allegation of sexual defilement of a minor made against him by popular comedian, Damilola Adekoya aka Princess, the foster mother of the victim.
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The Lagos State Police spokesperson, Olumuyiwa Adejobi, had said preliminary findings revealed that the 48-year-old actor allegedly began sexually assaulting the victim, 14, since she was 7 years of age.
Princess took to her Instagram page on Wednesday to tell how Baba Ijesha molested the young girl, lamenting that some people are making efforts to disrupt the investigation process and force the police to grant bail to the actor.
Her post generated support from major stakeholders in the movie industry, especially female actresses.
The saga escalated as popular Nollywood actors, Iyabo Ojo and Yomi Fabiyi, took to their Instagram accounts to throw jabs at each other over the case.
Fabiyi in a lengthy post on Instagram urged his colleagues not to jump to conclusions, adding that there is no dignity in fighting someone who is already on the floor.
He berated colleagues who, according to him, come out to cast aspersions on a fallen man because they believe nobody can do anything for them.
“Sometimes COMMON SENSE and CAUTION are needed more irrespective of one’s personality and principle to serious issues or whatever you know. I am not going to be part of a bad antecedent. If my words come ambiguous, seek understanding before rushing to hurt your colleague online, too low and dirty,” part of the post read.
He went on to demand evidence, a request many termed as asking for the CCTV footage of the minor being molested by Baba Ijesha.
Nollywood actress, Iyabo Ojo in a video via her Instagram page slammed Fabiyi over the sympathetic comments he made about Baba Ijesha.
Ojo slammed Fabiyi for not doing a proper investigation before making his comment.
In another post, Ojo, who claimed to have seen the video demonstrated how Baba Ijesha molested the girl.
Other movie stars and celebrities have also reacted to the saga.
A popular actress, Mercy Aigbe, showed support to the family of the girl while placing a curse on those supporting Baba Ijesha on the issue.
“Yomi Fabiyi is a disgrace, a complete idiot, one of the reasons why the fight against sexual violence gets harder by the day, you want to see a video first even when you know she is a minor? Even after you heard he confessed? What is wrong with the world??? I cannot,” Nigerian radio personality Toke Makinwa tweeted.
Ace singer Davido sent a subliminal threat message to the actor via his Twitter page.
“Bitch it’s on sight,” he captioned a photo of Fabiyi.
Meanwhile, another actor, Rotimi Makinde, who lent his voice to the defilement case on his Facebook page, said people should “show love” and give the actor the benefit of the doubt as he has not been pronounced guilty in any law court.
“Baba Ijesha, the popular comedian deserves some benefit of the doubt until a court of competent jurisdiction proves him guilty of any offence. I understand he was alleged to have committed an illegal act…Or is it a crime to be a movie star!,” says Makinde
Another actress, Biodun Okeowo, also vowed to lay curses on Baba Ijesha, if he is eventually found guilty of the allegations.
The 41-year-old actress demanded to be shown the CCTV footage.
She wrote on Instagram, “Please who has the footage where the disgusting, abominable and unimaginable act is being committed? Or at least his confession. I have some unused curses if he’s found guilty!”
Nollywood actress, Tonto Dikeh, in a series of posts with different captions, described Baba Ijesha as an “evil man.”
In one of her posts, she said “anyone with information on this, please contact me. This evil man must not be released (and must) not be granted bail.”
However, the actress’ rants did not go down well with Kehinde Adams aka Legemiami, a Yoruba filmmaker, who described her as a “nonentity.”
In two videos he shared online, he appealed to Nigerians to allow the police to conduct their investigations before pronouncing the actor guilty.
Like Okeowo, he also demanded to see the CCTV footage that captured the actor in the act.
He then said that if the actor is indeed guilty, he will be jailed, if not, he will regain his freedom.
Countering Adams, “It’s a celebrity, so we all want to see the CCTV footage first? If it is non-celebrity, he is GUILTY…,” Tonto Dike said in her response.
She further questioned the filmmaker “my question for you is, are you also a paedophile?”
The Theatre Arts And Motion Pictures Practitioners Association Of Nigeria (TAMPAN), led by Mr Bolaji Amusan, professionally known as Mr Latin, has condemned the act.
Confession video released
Meanwhile, a video has emerged on social media where Princess was asking Baba Ijesha why he sexually assaulted the young girl. The actor was heard pleading for forgiveness, blaming the act on the devil.
“Please, don’t do this. Forgive me, I am sorry. I will not do it again. Please forgive me in the name of God. Please help me beg her. I know I have offended you, but please forgive me. I know I have done something bad, but please forgive me, not for my sake but for God’s sake,” he said.
The viral video shared by Iyabo Ojo has generated reactions.
Nollywood actress, Uche Jombo, tweeted: “SICK. Even after this. They plan to bail him out, God!!!”
Musician, Korede Bello said: “Humans are only sorry when they are caught,” while another Nollywood actress, Adesua Etomi said, “Arghhhhhhh.”
Eni Abiola said, “Ha! This man is supposed to rot in jail. Can you imagine – a 7-year-old (girl), what did she have on her by then? He did not even repent after that, he then came back after 7 years. Could it be that he’s trying to use her for ritual? Olori bu ru ku ni e baba agbaya (Shameless old man).”
Raldreal Nsofor said: “He is not remorseful. Haba! Seven years is enough for Someone to change and this man came back to repeat what he did to the same girl seven years ago. Chai, he is bad. Na wa oo. If not for this video, he would have denied it. Chai. Thank God for this video.”
Baba Ijesha still in detention
Meanwhile, the police have said that Baba Ijesha is still being detained and would remain in custody until advice from the Department of Public Prosecution (DPP) is out.
News of the purported release of the suspect had gone viral on social media, prompting the Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, to react.
“We have to make some clarification about the aspect of defilement and indecent assaults. It is true the victim was defiled seven years ago, but the present case at hand is sexual assault on the victim.
“The Baba Ijesha case is in two aspects. He was first alleged to have defiled the girl seven years ago. Right now she is 14-year-old as at the time the complaint was made. The girl was seen in a video where he was sexually assaulting her.
“When a man touches a woman where he is not supposed to, it is an indecent assault to which the suspect admitted that he assaulted the girl. It is touching without her consent and that is an offence in the eyes of the law. But the case of defilement which is now added is still under investigation.”
He, however, said sexual assault is a bailable offence, adding that it is not like rape.