Nollywood actor, James Olanrewaju also known as Baba Ijesha on Friday made a 360 degree turn to deny the confessional statement he made to the police when he was arrested, claiming forster mother of the girl child he allegedly defiled dictated the statement to police.
Olanrewaju made the confessional statement to the police at the heat of his arrest. However, he turned around at the trial-within-trial of the determine 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 in the statement was dictated to the police by the complainant, Ms Damilola Adekola a.k.a Princess.
The defendant was being led in evidence by one of his counsels, Dada Awosika, SAN, during the trial-within-trial 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 volunteered the statement. I was just asked to sign it. Princess dictated everything to them.”
He said when Inspector Oname Abigail arrived 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.
Under cross examination by the prosecuting counsel, Yusuf Sule, Baba Ijesha insisted he did not volunteered 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 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 volunteered 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 stretched 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 requested for a trial-within-trial to determine 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 had testified so far since the prosecution opened its case in August. They included the complainant, 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.