The trial of Nollywood actor, Olanrewaju Imiyinka, commonly known by the stage name, Baba Ijesha, continued at the Lagos State Special Offences Court in Ikeja, on Monday.
Mr Imiyinka was arraigned in June by the Lagos State Police Command for allegedly sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl.
When the case came up for hearing, the trial judge, Oluwatoyin Taiwo, turned down a request by N.A. Egebyemi for the case to be adjourned due to the absence of the plaintiff’s lead counsel, Dada Awosika and Babatunde Ogala.
The judge then asked the counsel from the Directorate of Public Prosecution, Olayinka Adeyemi, to proceed with the presentation of a forensic video that the prosecution submitted as evidence during the last sitting.
The video is an interview between the victim and Olabisi Ajayi-Kayode, a child forensic expert from Cece Yara Foundation, a child-centred non-profit organisation, which works to prevent sexual abuse and provides support and access to care for children who have been sexually abused.
Forensic interview video
In the footage, which was recorded on May 15, at Cece Yara Foundation, Mrs Ajayi-Kayode was seen interviewing the 14-year-old, who introduced herself as the foster child of the actress known as Princess, whom she described as her mum.
She said seven years ago, her mum’s friend, Baba Ijesha, who used to visit them regularly, came to their house when no one was at home and told her to sit on his laps.
She said he switched off the light in the room but kept the television on. She said he then told her to remove her pants while he brought out his penis and told her to move her body around. She said she obliged “until she felt something wet on her body”.
She said Mr Imiyinka then used a handkerchief he took from the pocket of his trousers to clean his penis and told her to wash the handkerchief in the bathroom. She said she was confused and afraid and couldn’t tell anyone.
The girl said Mr Imiyinka returned the next day and allegedly violated her with his car key.
“He came back the next day, he used his car key. Well, he said he bought fruit and he parked his car away. He told my mum to permit me to follow him to his car to collect the fruit. He parked near a gutter near the wall. While I was trying to collect the fruit for the other end of the car he told me to bend so my hand would reach where the fruit was. While I did that, he put his car key into my private part.”
She added that while she was trying to collect the fruit from the car, Baba Ijesha kissed her face and her cheek.
In the footage, the child expert gave the alleged victim some toys to describe how she sat on Mr Imiyinka’s lap and how she was when he inserted the car keys into her private part.
At this point, Princess placed her hands on her head and shouted.
The 14-year-old said she told her foster mother about her alleged ordeal in April, which led to her inviting Mr Imiyinka over after she had planted CCTV cameras in their apartment so as to verify her claim.
She said she did not see Baba Ijesha in seven years prior to the visit in April, when he visited again and started to compliment her on how she has grown big.
“He did as if he was making a call, he was moving around the house, checking the rooms to know who was at home and he asked about my phone, I told him it was in the dinning, he was like oh let me give him my number, he asked me if I had a boyfriend and I said I don’t have, he said since I don’t have he would want to be my boyfriend.
“He said that he used to teach me some things when I was small that he’s now my boyfriend since I do not have a boyfriend.
“He said ‘don’t you remember I used to teach you some things when you were small, we had this contract.’ He said I should come and sit down on my laps, and I refused. He was like you when you were small you were not afraid to sit on my laps.”
The judge then told the clerk to stop the video, so as to proceed with cross-examinations.
During cross-examination, Mr Awosika questioned the academic qualification of the childcare expert.
He argued that Mrs Ajayi-kayode,, who is the executive director of Cece Yara Foundation, had no qualification in psychology or forensic investigation from any recognised institution of learning.
He also argued that the expert did not ascertain the child’s retentive capacity seven years ago before engaging her in an interview. He asked how the expert knew if the stories the child told were fabricated or mere hearsay.
However, Mrs Ajayi-Kayode insisted that in child development and psychology, at seven years the brain cells are well developed and at seven years the child has enough speech.
She also established that she had obliged the child in the video during the introduction to tell her all the truth that she can remember had transpired between herself and Baba Ijesha.
The introductory part of the video was then played and it proved that the childcare expert had told the 14-year-old to speak the truth and be free with her.
Mrs Ajayi-Kayode, who also has a masters degree in law, presented to the court certifications that proved that she is a trained childcare expert, emphasising that child forensic interview expert is not an academic course of study, “but has its foundational courses on law, psychology, social works amongst others.”
Although Ms Awosika argued that the methodology used in the interview does not have any legislative foundation in Nigeria, Mrs Ajayi-Kayode clarified that the methodology originated in America and has been in practice for child forensic reports since the 1990s.
She also said other experts like social workers and psychologists were involved in her reports.
The judge adjourned the case for the counsel to present more evidence.
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