Crime/DefenseEntertainmentLegal/Judiciary

Alleged defilement: ‘I made a confessional statement under duress’ — Baba Ijesha

By Francis IWUCHUKWU

Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo of an Ikeja Special Offences Court, Nigeria, was on Friday (yesterday) told by popular Nollywood actor, James Olanrewaju also known as Baba Ijesha, that the foster mother of the girl child he allegedly defiled dictated the confessional statement he made to the police, to him.

It would be recalled that Olanrewaju made the confessional statement to the police at the heat of his arrest.

But the Nollywood star at the trial-within-trial to determine the voluntariness of his statement before Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo, turned round to deny making the statement voluntarily and that he signed same under duress.

Baba Ijesha particularly stated that he was beaten with a stick, forced to sit on the floor to sign the statement.

He further argued that everything in the statement was dictated to the police by the complainant, Ms Damilola Adekola a.k.a. Princess.

Whilst being led in evidence by one of his counsels, Dada Awosika, SAN, during the trial-within-trial before Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo, Olanrewaju insisted that “My cloth was torn, I was forced to sit on the ground. My body was shaking. They showed me the statement, I did not volunteer the statement. I was just asked to sign it. Princess dictated everything to them.”

The Nollywood actor revealed that when Inspector Oname Abigail arrived at Princess’ house on April 19, the day he was arrested, the complainant hid some boys who were beating him inside a room before allowing her to come inside.

He suggested that when he was led outside, some boys again came and beat him until he was rescued by some police officers who took him on a bike to Sabo Divisional Police Headquarters and locked him up in a cell after they had removed the handcuffs on his hand.

Under cross-examination by the prosecuting counsel, Yusuf Sule, Olanrewaju maintained that he did not volunteer the statement but that the content was dictated to the police by the complainant.

The Nollywood actor equally denied knowledge of the current residence of the complainant, insisting that only her former residence was known to him.

He however owned up to the names of his father, mother, primary and secondary schools attended, his age, dropping out of the University of Lagos, Akoka when he could no longer cope with a course he was studying.

However, when confronted by the prosecution that the IPO could not have known his details if he did not volunteer any information to her, Baba Ijesha could not answer.

Earlier, Inspector Abigail had under examination by Awosika, SAN, explained that the defendant freely volunteered his statement and that it was made without duress.

Inspector Abigail insisted she read cautionary words to Baba Ijesha and that he told her he understood English and everything she read to him.

According to Inspector Abigail, “The defendant was shaking when I was about to take his statement. I offered him a chair to sit to relax him, but he said he preferred sitting on the floor to enable him to stretch out his legs.

“I calmed him down and told him he has to write his statement. I asked him questions in English, and he responded to all of them in English. He requested that I should help him to write his statement as he could not write because he was shaking;

“When we finished, I read the statement to him, and he told me he understood everything and after that, he signed the statement.”

Before this time, Babatunde Ogala, SAN, also a counsel to the defendant, had objected to the admissibility of the confessional statement of Baba Ijesha.

Ogala, SAN, particular told the court that he objected to the statement being admitted as evidence against the defendant because it was not freely given.

According to the SAN, the defendant was sitting on the floor, and that the failure of the IPO to sign or disclose that she recorded it is contrary to the provisions of the Evidence Act.

Ogala had then requested a trial-within-trial to determine the voluntariness of the document.

Baba Ijesha is facing a six-count charge bordering on allegations of indecent treatment of a child, sexual assault, attempted sexual assault by penetration and sexual assault by penetration.

But he had pleaded not guilty to the six-count charge.

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