Mrs Ngozi Okoro, the National Deputy Coordinator of the Child Protection Network (CPN) in Nigeria, has vowed that embattled actor, Olanrewaju Omiyinka, popularly known as Baba Ijesha will be prosecuted for sexually molesting a 14-year-old girl, according to SaharaReporters.
Okoro said Baba Ijesha’s case would serve as a deterrent to other paedophiles fond of sexually molesting the girl-child in society.
Baba Ijesha was arrested by the police for molesting the daughter of his counterpart in the entertainment industry, Damilola Adekoya, whose stage name as a comedian is Princess.
Baba Ijesha, who has not been arraigned in the court due to the national strike action embarked on by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) was, however, granted bail on Monday on health grounds.
His bail was criticised by actor, Iyabo Ojo and many other Nigerians who feared he might jump bail.
Speaking to SaharaReporters in an exclusive interview on Tuesday, the child rights activist said she was not opposed to his bail due to unavailability of courts but maintained that that the UNICEF-funded organisation was monitoring the case and would not allow it to be swept under the carpet.
“It’s so disheartening and disappointing that a man like Baba Ijesha would molest a child when she was seven, and now he’s repeating it. We all saw the video when he confessed and begged for forgiveness. Honestly, I don’t w know hy people now come to defend him? How can you defend a man that tried to destroy the life of a small child?
“People should put themselves in the shoes of the father and mother of the poor child. Would they have kept quiet if it was their child? Anyway, we’ve handled cases of fathers sleeping with their own daughters.
“As for granting Baba Ijesha bail, it’s fine. The courts are not sitting and he’s been in the custody for a while. Normally, he was supposed to rot there, but because of the situation at hand, I’m not against him getting bail,” Okoro said.
She further said that Lagos State Judiciary has a track record of getting justice for child victims of human and sexual rights abuses, thus confident that Baba Ijesha will not go unpunished.
“Since, the Lagos judiciary is involved, I’m confident we’ll have justice. Granting him bail does not mean he is off the hook. When the courts resume, they’ll have to call him back. If he plans to disappear, we’ll track him.
“We believe in Lagos State Judiciary because we have been working with them. They frown on any form of abuse against a child not to talk of sexual molestation. So we trust them that when courts resume, they will do the needful.
“I’ve seen cases where culprits of human and sexual abuses were granted bail by the police because the police cells were filled up and at their appropriate time of prosecution they were arraigned in courts. I bet you on Baba Ijesha’s case, we will get justice for the girl. Baba Ijesha is a paedophile and I’m sure he has been doing so to other girls.
“We will make him a lesson for other perpetrators of this evil act. I can assure Iyabo Ojo and others supporting this girl, that we will get justice for them. Baba Ijesha will be punished,” Okoro vowed.
Speaking on the issue, the Lagos State Deputy Coordinator of CPN, Alhaji Lateef Akinborode also affirmed that Baba Ijesha would be served punishment for his paedophilia act but had access to bail on the basis of human rights.
Akinborode, who is also the Founder and Project Director of Community Women’s Right Foundation, said the culprit ought to produce a strong surety and must be barred from travelling until the court hears his case. He added that the girl should be protected.
“He can be bailed since the first charge is molestation and he had even stayed in the cell for 48 hours, which was due to the unavailability of court session.
“If at all he will be released on bail because of health issues, he must have strong and recognised surety with high bail condition and then he should be put on house arrest, and be banned from travelling until the court resumes for the hearing, The girl in question should be given a protection order prior to that time the court resumes.
“If he is granted bail based on fundamental human rights, it is a welcomed idea but he still needs to be prosecuted in order to ascertain the supremacy of the law as well.
“Justice must be served irrespective of who Baba Ijesha is. The case shouldn’t be one of such usually swept under the carpet. It is a very sensitive issue and every child is watching and waiting for justice to be served. Whatever the outcome, it will definitely leave an imprint in the history of the Nigerian Judicial System,” Akinborode said.