Olanrewaju James, a well-known actor known as Baba Ijesha, has completed one year of his 16-year prison sentence for child defilement at the Maximum Security Custodial Centre in Kirikiri, Lagos State.
He was convicted on July 14, 2022, and sentenced to 16 years imprisonment on four of the six-count charges brought against him, which included indecent treatment of a child, sexual assault, attempted sexual assault by penetration, and sexual assault by penetration.
Baba Ijesha’s arrest took place on April 22, 2021, and he appeared before Magistrate P.E. Nwaka at the Yaba Magistrate Court in Yaba, Lagos, on July 16, 2021. Subsequently, he was arraigned at the Special Offences and Domestic Violence Court in Ikeja, presided by Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo, who delivered the judgment.
The court found him guilty of counts two to five but acquitted him of counts one and six. The actor was then sentenced to five years for count two, three years for count three, five years for count four, and three years for count five.
The case stirred significant attention and controversies, dividing the entertainment industry into those who supported comedian Princess Adekoya, whose ward was the victim, and those who empathized with Baba Ijesha.
Some individuals, including Yomi Fabiyi, Bukky Black, and Lege Miami, sympathized with Baba Ijesha, with Fabiyi asserting that the actor was “ambushed” into the crime. On the other hand, actresses such as Iyabo Ojo and Nkechi Blessing vehemently supported Princess.
Yomi Fabiyi, who has been in constant communication with Baba Ijesha since his imprisonment, expressed his concern for the actor’s well-being, ensuring that he remains emotionally supported and does not contemplate self-harm or revenge. Fabiyi also mentioned that Baba Ijesha still struggles with the absence of certain evidence during the trial, causing him considerable mental distress, as he feels unjustly punished.
Throughout the trial, Baba Ijesha appeared visibly morose and disheartened in court, and on one occasion, he was seen clutching a Christian book titled, ‘How to Thrive in Perilous Times: Living Beyond the World System,’ written by Happy Caldwell.