Popular Nollywood actor, James Olanrewaju, otherwise known as Baba Ijesha, on Friday denied the confessional statement he made ìn the child defilement case brought against him by the Lagos State government.
Olanrewaju made the denial during a trial-within-trial of the voluntariness of his statement before Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo.
Baba Ijesha said he signed the statement under duress.
He said he was beaten with a stick, forced to sit on the floor and to sign the statement.
He said everything ìn the statement was dictated to the police by the comedienne and complainant, Miss Damilola Adekola, aka Princess.
The defendant was being led in evidence by one of his counsels, Dada Awosika, SAN, during a trial-within-trial of the voluntariness of his statement before Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo.
He affirmed: “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.”
Baba Ijesha said 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 said 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.
While being cross-examined by the prosecuting counsel, Yusuf Sule, Baba Ijesha insisted he did not volunteer the statement but that the content was dictated to the police by the complainant.
He also 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.
Baba Ijesha failed to respond when confronted by the prosecution that the IPO could not have known his details if he did not volunteer any information to her.
Earlier, Inspector Abigail, under examination by Awosika, said the defendant freely volunteered his statement and that it was made without duress.
Insp. Abigail insisted she read cautionary words to Baba Ijesha and that he told her he understood English and everything she read to him.
She said: “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.’
She said after taking the statement of both the complainant and defendant, she took both of them back to the DPO.
Earlier, during resumed proceedings, Babatunde Ogala, SAN, also a counsel to the defendant, had objected to the admissibility of the confessional statement of Baba Ijesha.
Ogala told the court that he objected to the statement being admitted as evidence against the defendant on the grounds that it was not freely given.
According to him, the defendant was sitting on the floor, the failure of the IPO to sign or disclose that she recorded it contrary to provisions of the Evidence Act.
He had then requested for 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.
He has pleaded not guilty to the six-count charge.
Six witnesses have testified so far since the prosecution opened its case in August.
They include the complainant, comedienne, Damilola Adekoya popularly called Princess, and her 14-year old foster daughter who was said to have been molested by the defendant in 2014 and April 2021.
Justice Taiwo however fixed December 2 for the adoption of written addresses by counsels.