Purported plans to release Nollywood actor ‘Baba Ijesha’ have drawn the ire of Nigerians.
The 48-year-old actor, whose real name is Olanrewaju James, was recently arrested for allegedly defiling a seven-year-old girl.
Since the news came to the fore, several Yoruba entertainers have expressed divergent views on the matter. While some appear sympathetic towards Baba Ijesha, others are drumming support in the fight for justice for his alleged victim.
Iyabo Ojo, in a recent Instagram live video, lamented that 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 release of the actor from custody.
This, it was gathered, may be due to the ongoing strike by members of the Judicial Staff Union of Nigeria(JUSUN), which has forced courts from sitting.
The police, it was gathered, do not want to detain the suspect indefinitely and without trial.
On April 22, the police arrested Baba Ijesha for allegedly raping a minor. Lagos police spokesperson Olumuyiwa Adejobi said preliminary findings revealed the suspect allegedly began sexually assaulting the victim, 14, since she was seven-year-old.
Nigerian comedian Princess, who was sheltering the alleged victim, later clarified that her colleague only abused 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.
“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,” activist lawyer Festus Ogun said.
“Baba Ijesha is entitled to 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 offense 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 a CCTV footage that showed him touching the Child inappropriately. Unless the Nigerian Police is mad, on what ground are they releasing him?”