The Lagos State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Moyosore Onigbanjo,SAN, on Tuesday issued a press release on the case of Yoruba actor Olanrewaju James (Baba Ijesha), stating that the case file had been forwarded by the Commissioner of Police to the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for legal advice.
Baba Ijesha, who faces the possibility of life imprisonment to 14 years imprisonment if found guilty of the charges brought against him, had been in the news for sexually assaulting a 14-year-old-girl in the home of comedienne Adekola Adekanya popularly called ‘Princess’. The case trended on social media, receiving comments from high-ranking personalities like Abike Dabiri-Erewa, who demanded that the case goes to court and the maximum sentence is passed.
Onigbanjo stated that “the Lagos State Ministry of Justice has been consistent in its efforts in protecting the vulnerable in our society and since the establishment of the Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team in 2014, it has till date prosecuted over 800 cases of Sexual and Domestic offences”.
However, for the past three years, the case of Don-Chima George and Rasaq Oluwasegun Oke who drugged and gang raped a 23 years old lady at the De Lankaster Hotel in February 2019 is still in court. The case went viral and the hashtag #JusticeForRapeInNigeria was used to create awareness and call for justice. At the height of the case, the then Lagos State Commissioner of Police, CP Edgal Imohimi had directly ordered that a thorough investigation be conducted.
At the time, the Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT) tweeted that the DPP would ensure diligent prosecution of the case. They had also stated that Don-Chima and Rasaq were remanded at Kirikiri Prison. However, as time passed and focus shifted to other things on social media, the case stopped receiving the meticulousness it deserved. The DPP failed to produce the critical witnesses to secure a prosecution and eventually had the case closed.
Don-Chima and Rasaq, who will appear before Hon. Justice Abiola Soladoye of the Sexual Offences Court, Lagos High Court, Ikeja, on May 18 have since been walking free and are represented by Tunji Ayanlaja (SAN). The chances that Baba Ijesha’s case will not end up being influenced to his favour can’t be guaranteed.
Onigbanjo assured Lagosians that charges would be filed accordingly. Unfortunately these statements, as past events are shown, are mostly made when the attention of the public is on the issue.
When FIJ contacted DSVRT on the Don-Chima and Rasaq case for updates, the response was that “the DSVRT does give updates but we will not jeopardize cases that beg for confidentiality. However, updates will be provided to the concerned parties on request”.
“The DSVRT is very good at this noise but when it’s time to prosecute, it will take years,” one lawyer told FIJ on Wednesday.
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