The Court of Appeal Lagos Division, yesterday, reserved judgment in the appeal filed by a Nollywood actor, Olanrewaju James, popularly known as Baba Ijesha, over the sexual assault of a minor.

The appellant is challenging his conviction by a Lagos State High Court over sexual assault of a minor.

Baba Ijesha in his notice of appeal marked CA/LAG/CR/544/23 asked the appellate court to set aside the judgment of the lower court.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that retired Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo of the Ikeja Domestic Violence and Sexual Offences Court, had on July 14, 2022, sentenced him to five years imprisonment over sexual assault of a minor.

The judge convicted and sentenced him after he was found guilty of four counts out of six counts, in suit number ID/14623C/2021 preferred against him by the Lagos State Government.

The state had through its Director of Public Prosecutions, Dr Babajide Martins, filed six counts bordering on indecent treatment of a child, sexual assault and sexual assault by penetration against the convict.

The court found Baba Ijesha guilty of indecent treatment of a child and sexual assault of a minor between 2013 and 2014, which contravened Section 135 of Lagos State Criminal Law, 2015.

He was exonerated of sexual assault by penetration.

Dissatisfied with the judgment, Baba Ijesha through his counsel, Mr Kayode Olabiran, approached the appeal court, praying it to declare that his conviction and sentence were done in error.

At the hearing of the appeal on Tuesday, Baba Ijesha’s counsel, Olabiran, told the court that the appeal was filed on June 1, 2023.

He argued that the prosecution could not prove that Baba Ijesha sexually assaulted the victim.

Olabiran said: “The charge itself is centered on defilement of a minor but the prosecution could not prove the age of the victim.

“The appellant was set up. The appellant is an actor. He acted in a script that he was invited to act by his colleague, PW1, Damilola Adekoya.

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“PW1 asked the appellant to come and act a script. It is in the statement of PW1 at Panti Police Station, unknowingly to the appellant there was a CCTV in the sitting room.

“Whatever we watched in that movie was a script by the producer and the video of the scene of the acting was tendered by the prosecution.”

The counsel told the court that the confessional statement of the convict on the day he was arrested was done under duress.

He added that the convict was beaten by many people on that day which made him confess to committing the offence.

Olabiran, however, urged the court to allow the appeal and  set aside the judgment of the lower court, delivered on July 14, 2022.

In his response, the DPP,  Martins, urged the court to dismiss the appeal.

He said that the appeal lacked merit and was a misconception.

Martins also urged the court to affirm the judgment of the lower court which convicted Baba Ijesha of indecent treatment of a child and sexual assault.

On the age of the victim, Martins, submitted that the victim was born on Oct. 6, 2006, which put her age at 14, in 2013 when the offence was committed.

“At the time she gave evidence in 2021, she was 17 years old, which still makes her a child,” he said.

The three-man panel of the appellate court, led by Justice Folasade Ojo, reserved judgment after listening to the arguments of the parties.

Other members of the panel were Justice Abdullahi Bayero and Justice Paul Bassi.