Yoruba actors appear divided in their stance concerning the rape allegations leveled against their colleague, Olanrewaju James aka Baba Ijesha.
The police in Lagos arrested Baba Ijesha on Tuesday for sexually assaulting a 14-year-old minor since she was 7 years old.
According to the police spokesperson, Olumuyiwa Adejobi, the suspect was arrested following a complaint last week Monday at Sabo Police Station in Yaba area of the state.
The actor also confessed to the crime and was captured by a closed-circuit television in the victim’s house.
Since the news came to the fore, several Yoruba actors have expressed divergent views on the matter.
While some set of actors appear sympathetic to the actor’s plight, others are drumming support in the fight for justice for the defiled minor.
A divided house
Over the weekend, Iyabo Ojo called out and slammed her colleagues who are drumming support for the embattled actor.
In a video she captioned, “Please let’s be mindful in my industry, this is a very sensitive issue and we should all remember that a 14 years old child is involved,” she urged Baba Ijesha’s supporters to stop defending the actor and stand by the truth.
She also asked her colleagues to desist from demanding to see the CCTV footage on social media as a minor was involved.
Meanwhile, another actor, Rotimi Makinde, who lent his voice to the defilement case on his Facebook, said people should “show love” and give the actor the benefit of doubt as he has not been pronounced guilty in any law court.
“Baba Ijesha, the popular comedian deserves some benefit of the doubt until a court of competent jurisdiction proves him guilty of any offence. I understand he was alleged to have committed an illegal act…Or is it a crime to be a movie star!,” he said.
He said with the way the matter went viral, it seems people wanted the “movie star” “down.”
“Let’s be patient, show the accused some love even as we condemn any bad acts and to stop jumping to conclusions on his alleged assault on a minor… it’s like some of us want him down before now?”
“Crime is bad but crucification of any suspect on its own is also a crime…Of course we can pity the alleged victim.”
Another actress, Biodun Okeowo, also vowed to lay curses on her colleague, if he is eventually found guilty of the allegations.
The 41-year-old actress demanded to be shown the CCTV footage.
She wrote on Instagram, “Please who has the footage where the disgusting, abominable and unimaginable act is being committed? Or at least his confession. I have some unused curses if he’s found guilty!
”This is hard to believe. Crestfallen is even an understatement… I’m emotionally shattered. Can’t wrap it off my head.”
The Theatre Arts And Motion Pictures Practitioners Association of Nigeria (TAMPAN) has, however, condemned the defilement allegations levelled against one of its own.
A statement signed by the association’s spokesperson, Yemi Amodu, on Saturday, cast a guilty verdict on the comic actor while expressing sympathy for the family of the alleged victim.
The association also vowed to support government in its bid to ensure that ignoble acts are checked within the society.
The statement partly read, “We find it obligatory to condemn in totality the odious occurrence of pedophilia confessed to by Mr. Olanrewaju James aka Baba Ijesha as confirmed by the police. Our association TAMPAN is crestfallen about this act and will reproach and remonstrate the committer of such exclusive sexual harassment to prepubescent children.
“Considering the sensitivity of the case, which is still under investigation according to Lagos State Commissioner of Police, TAMPAN will never support all acts against what we preach and represent. As an association, we understand the mores and norms of our people and behaviour will always be homiletic”.
Tonto Dike and Lege Miami too
Meanwhile, Nollywood actress, Tonto Dike, in a series of posts with different captions, described Baba Ijesha as an “evil man.”
In one of her posts, she said “anyone with information on this , pleases contact me. This evil man must not be released (and must) not be granted bail.”
She urged her followers to join her call for justice for the victim by reposting and tagging foreign and local authorities.
In another post, she said if he is found guilty, she will personally make sure he never sees the light of the day.
However, the actress’ rants did not go down well with Kehinde Adams aka Legemiami, a Yoruba filmmaker, who described her as a “nonentity.”
In two videos he shared online, he appealed to Nigerians to allow the police conduct their investigations before casting a guilty verdict against the actor .
Like Okeowo, he also demanded to see the CCTV camera that captured the actor in the act.
He said his colleagues gave Tonto the opportunity to cast aspersions at the actor without proof.
He also said the actress has not gone to the police station to get her facts right before accusing the actor.
He then said that if the actor is indeed guilty, he will be jailed, if not, he will regain his freedom.
Following the videos, he captioned other subsequent videos “say no to rape.”
Countering Adams, “It’s a celebrity, so we all want to see cctv camera first? If it is non celebrity he is GUILTY…,” Tonto Dike said in her response.
She further questioned the filmmaker “ my question for you is, are you also a paedophile?”
Other actors in the Yoruba movie industry are yet to react to the latest development.
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