On Thursday July 13,2022, a rape case which began as a child’s play on June 16, 2021 before Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo, of Lagos Special sexual Offence Court Ikeja was brought to an end. At least pending appeal by the defence team. The case had the suspect, James Olanrewaju Popularly called ‘Baba Ijesha’ sentenced to a 16-year jail term. As opposed to so many cases in Nigeria, there is now hope for the oppressed and ordinary Nigerians that justice can be served without a prolonged delay. A plague that had bedevilled our justice system for so long.
The case which began on April 16, 2021 with the arrest of the suspect then, Baba Ijesha, now convicted of some of the charges; was first heard in court on June 16, 2021. The charges before the accused had four major counts: indecent treatment of a child, sexual assault, attempted sexual assault by penetration, and sexual assault by penetration.
At the beginning of the hearing, the defendant and his eminent legal team, led by a senior advocate of Nigeria, argued that many of the charges were ‘fabricated’ by the prosecuting team. First it was first claimed that the accused did not voluntarily made the statement and that the statement was made under duress and he was forced to append his signature after the statement had been written and dictated to him by the Police.
Rumour also claimed the accused also said the victim in question was not a minor as the prosecuting team wanted the public to believe.
But in the course of the legal battle that lasted for a year plus, the prosecuting team, which includes the Police, forensic expert among others, were able to establish ‘proven evidence showed engagement and suppression of the minor at different occasions’. It was also proven that Baba Ijesha had asked the minor not to inform anyone of his nefarious activities. And in some occasions, the accused asked the victim of the assault ‘to sit on his lap while he exposed erected penis to her’.
Worst of it all, it was established the accused inserted a car key into the minor’s vagina. What a gory story indeed? Such an open display of animalistic nature in some men. At the end of the day, the accused was convicted of two of the charges and awarded 16years jail term in all.
A video released online by the accused not long after the verdict showed Baba Ijesha crying profusely for injustice and hoping truth will be revealed one day. For him, this may be malice carried too far as he and the mother of the victim were estranged lovers. To him, this was a revenge mission after love lost between the two. Whatever that means.
Some members of the defence team and friends of the accused had also come out to affirm the case has not ended yet as there is an option of the appellate court.
With the above said, the writer wants to pause and think whether this case has any similitude with the Nigeria society. A place where many take advantage of their closeness and proximity to others to do greater harm to the seemingly less powerful in the society. A society where a depraved nobody instead of acknowledging wrong doing will shout at his/her top voice ‘do you know who am I? Lagos and many metropolitan cities have a larger share of this.
If in doubt, just drive through some of the major highways in three to four days. Some caseless drivers or nobody will brush another person’s car and instead of saying sorry, one begins to hear ‘grammar’ the speaker does not know its meaning.
Is our society also free of assaults of many kinds? Are Nigerian politicians not daily assaulting the sensibility of the governed? Do they obey the traffic and other basic laws and do they get away with these with impunity? Same case with average citizen. Within the family setting, do we constantly hear of many fathers or spouses at large assaulting the weaker species: children, daughter specifically and the economically disadvantaged partner?
Do we have cases of these done and openly denied just because some have the money and believe justice will not be done as justice’s balance of scale is always titled in favour of the most powerful?
Do we have many open cases of indecent treatment, as established against Baba Ijesha, of the minor(powerless) among us? How are our leaders treating average Nigerian? What kind of school does the children of the poor, especially in the rural area, attend? What is the quality of education these children have? What is the quality of our transport and health infrastructures? Are ordinary people decently treated in these areas?
Can we talk about water, power, energy, housing and social security issues that are available to these seemingly ‘unfortunate members’ of the society?
The second charge against Baba Ijesha was sexual assault. If we open the can of worm here many will be cooling in jails. We know sexual assault include inappropriate touching, starring especially lustful starring that many men will engage in in the pretence of wanting to correct ills of the feminine gender. What about lewd jokes. What about privileged employers who go overboard to take advantage of the young and innocent ladies who are in dire need of means of livelihood?
What about indecent exposure of what is called private parts of the body by both gender in the wake of modern day affirmation? Let me not shake that table too much for political correctness.
Let us examine the third charge: attempted sexual assault by penetration. Has many of us gone overboard by being unnecessarily interested in the supposed bad manners of others, a case of removing the wood in your own eyes before the little stick in others. This happens daily in matter of religion, ethnic, career and social interactions. Yet we see nothing bad in it.
For some, it is not just going overboard by prying, it is the actual penetration, which is the fourth charges against Mr James Olanrewaju aka Baba Ijesha. We do all these with impunity knowing we can get away with it because of our status in the society, the cash balance in our banks’ account or the loopholes in our legal system which we all know we can annex with just a tap of a finger.
Is the writer putting a note of finality on what the court upheld and the outcomes of a possible love lost between the two principals actors in the case, Princess and Baba Ijesha? The writer’s perspective is based only on the information that is made available out there. He is not privy to private relationships that might have existed between two adults
But like we just witnessed, justice is now served. Nigeria Society, like many others, can continue to run on this auto-pilot of injustice where the powerful continues to oppress the weak. What is so sure is that a day will come when justice will be served and that in full.