Alleged Sexual Assault: Baba Ijesa Pleads Not Guilty, Court Denies Him Bail
Hopes of freedom for popular Nollywood actor, James Olanrewaju, popularly known as Baba Ijesha was dashed on Wednesday following the ruling by a Chief Magistrate court sitting in the Yaba area of Lagos.
The actor is charged with alleged indecent treatment of a child, defilement of a Child, sexual assault by penetration, attempted sexual assault by penetration, and sexual assault-which contravenes sections 135, 137, 261, 202, 262, and 263 of the Lagos State Criminal Law 2015.
He pleaded not guilty to all the five-count leveled against him.
During the reading of the counts, Magistrate Nwaka noted that Baba Ijesha kept bending over and showing signs of discomfort and this prompted the question:
“Are you okay?
“Do you want to sit down?
“Give him a chair to sit on,” the Magistrate said.
The police prosecutor in the matter has however told the Magistrate that proceedings concerning Baba Ijesha will now be handled by the DPP following information filed before the High Court.
On his part, counsel to the defendant, Kayode Olabiran made a fresh application for bail of Baba Ijesha.
He said, “Mr Olanrewaju has remained in police custody because one of the bail conditions is yet to be met.”
“On May 17, the Ministry of Justice, the Judiciary, the NBA, and the police took an initiative to decongest jam-packed cells across the State. My client was one of the beneficiaries and the conditions given were – two sureties, one must be a blood relation and another surety not less than level 16 in the Lagos State government civil service.
“The elder brother to the defendant has appeared as a surety and we have paid the N500,000 bail bond to the account of the Lagos State government but we have not been able to get a level 16 officer to stand as surety,” Mr Olabiran said.
Explaining further, the lawyer said they got three different levels 16 officers but one turned them down along the line and two others declined upon hearing that they need to get a clearance letter from the Head of Service.
“The level 16 officers are afraid of being issued a query. We are applying for bail on compassionate ground and in the interest of justice,” Mr Olabiran added, urging the Magistrate to consider the visibly ill health of his client.
A counsel from the office of the DPP, Mobolaji Owoebute-Okedeji, opposed the bail application.
He said the matter has been already filed at the High Court, and he urged the court to refuse bail.
In his ruling, Magistrate Peter Nwaka refused to vary his bail condition on charges of rape, sexual assault, and abuse of a minor.
After considering all the submissions, Magistrate Nwaka declined to grant the defendant bail on the grounds that he no longer had jurisdiction over the matter.
“I have carefully considered the application of the counsel to the defendant seeking bail for the defendant and the opposition by the counsel from the DPP.
“Since there are indications that the matter is before the high court and the defendant will appear before the court, no bail can be given,” the Magistrate said.
The court also ordered that the defendant must be accorded full medical attention by the authorities pending his arraignment at the high court and adjourned the matter to July 13 for mention.