Controversial Yoruba actor, Yomi Fabiyi, on Wednesday, led a peaceful protest over the continued detention of his colleague, Olarenwaju James, popularly known as Baba Ijesha.
Baba Ijesha has been in police detention since April 22 for allegedly sexually assaulting a minor.
Mr Fabiyi, alongside dozens of placard-bearing protesters, took off from Casino Cinema/Rove Park to the Lagos Police Command in Panti-Yaba.
They ended the protest at noon and then converged at the State Criminal Investigation Department where Baba Ijesha is being detained.
The actor told PREMIUM TIMES that they are demanding that Baba Ijesha be released on administrative bail pending when his trial commences.
Some of their placards bore captions like “It is illegal to use a child as props/bait in an illegal setup, Illegal police detention: Don’t wait until it is done to your relative, brother, sister, or us”.
Other captions read, “Nigerian police must respect human rights and honour bail for all bailable offences; denying bail is a human rights violation; Nigeria police, please allow the law to dictate to you; not Iyabo Ojo, Princess and co” and “Please release Baba Ijesha, say no to set up. Say no to torture. Say no to forceful torture, and (obtaining) statement under duress.”
Speaking with this newspaper after the protests ended, the actor said although his views are largely unpopular, the protest is also to kick against human rights violations.
He said, “This is about human rights, this is about the fact that policing is becoming what we don’t expect it to be. We are growing up to understand that policing is oppression and most of the things that we have seen – police are supposed to be the historian of human rights, they are supposed to enforce and also be the frontiers of human rights.
“What we are growing up to is horrible. We are going to be having children as well and then our children are going to be inheriting the same thing from us.”
The Deputy Commissioner of Panti SCID, Adegoke Fayoade, appreciated the protesters for their “concern and peaceful conduct.”
He said, “We must say it categorically clear that we detained Baba Ijesha within a specified time.
Baba Ijesha’s case, as we are aware, has gone to The Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP)and the DPP has advised us on what to do. What we are waiting for is for the court to resume.”
Mr Fayoade said Baba Ijesha’s prolonged detention is as a result of the ongoing strike action by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN).
However, Mr Fabiyi, responded, saying the DPP has no constitutional authority to hold the suspect in detention without granting him administrative bail.
“DPP advice is legal advice. DPP’s advice is not the court. We should educate the citizenry that we respect human right by following the rule of law because it is sacrosanct,” he said.
In his response, the DCP Fayoade said, “You have made all your complaints, we will collate all your complaints and forward to to the CP and we will do the needful, I assure you.”
Last Tuesday, the Attorney-General of Lagos, Moyosore Onigbanjo, said, following the advice given on the case by the (DPP), the suspect will be tried under five provisions of the criminal law of Lagos State.
Mr Fabiyi also urged the Police to work within the ambits of the law and not emotions and grant Baba Ijesha an administrative bail.
“Police should understand that irrespective of offence, irrespective of the emotions around, of the law, says you are eligible to bail, they should grant you your bail, perhaps an administrative bail to a reliable surety,” he said.
“It is wrong to anybody to assume you’re guilty or innocent until the court of law says so. The police are not the court of law.
“When you look at this particular case at hand, there is so much unnecessary evil that we should not allow in our society. Number one is a trap, trapping somebody is a criminal offence. Before you know it, to distinguish which one is the truth, which one is the right when you start accepting civilians to trap themselves, then suicide will become a new normal.
“Using a child, I never believe that despite the fact that the police, seeing a child, the police saw footages, evidence, that this is a minor, they did not even hold the person that aided and abetted. How do you bring a child to submit her body for molestation, for rape, for abuse? Where are the social services in Lagos State?
“First and foremost, I believe in human dignity, I decided to choose human rights because I wasn’t raised with brutality.
“I have never seen my parent involved in violence, I wasn’t raised that way. I notice the fact that some people believe that now that you have offended me, I will put the law into my hands.
“I’m beginning to see a new normal that will continue to set this country on fire, that will create a very bad antecedent. The fact remains that social media is a very good tool but if we allow illegality to become a new normal on it and when we come offline, there will be a danger.
“I can see the danger ahead, now children will be used as a trap. No police officer can even use a child as a trap, anything could go wrong, a child can be killed, can be molested, you don’t do that but unfortunately, the majority are keeping quiet because they think this one has committed a crime but at the end of the day, they scream rape.”
Fabiyi calls for Princess’ arrest
The human rights activist cum actor also called for the arrest of Princess, the alleged victim’s foster mother, and others involved who used the child as bait for another molestation.
“We want the police to be honest. If the police are truly following the Child Right Act Protection law, why are they not arresting the adults that used a child as bait, that is even worse than what they did to the girl in the first place.
“You don’t subject a child to (re)molestation. You don’t even aid anybody, no excuse whatsoever must you aid anybody to molest and abuse a child. It is criminal, it is evil, it is demonic and it is unlawful. Setting up is not going to be the new normal, I cannot keep quiet.”
Backbiting” in the Yoruba movie industry
My Fabiyi said his colleagues are trying to tread softly instead of coming out to condemn wrongdoing.
“First and foremost, with due respect to all my colleagues, this is an issue of a minor, and of course, majority may not be able to come in so that they would not offend the law,” he said.
“Even me that I’m speaking and saying the right thing, you can see the way they are misconstruing me. They are trying to throw me under the bus, despite the fact that I have personal sympathy for minors or anything children.
“However, you can ask yourself again, how many artists have been helped in their time of trouble? Those are part of the few things I have been advocating, for some time now.
“There is backbiting in our industry. They sometimes insult me that I’m the only person that takes care of ailing actors. Everybody thinks about competition, they don’t think about welfare.
“We said we have an association, knowing fully well that they won’t support you in anything that will displease them or teach their name but if it is part, they will want to stand.
“But I have dedicated my life to helping people,” Mr Fabiyi said.
Baba Ijesha is under investigation by the Lagos State police command on allegations of rape.
The actor has been accused by a Nigerian comedienne, Princess, of raping a minor (when she was 7-year-old) who was kept in her care.
The Commissioner of Police, Lagos State, Hakeem Odumosu, has also confirmed that Baba Ijesha is currently a suspect in a sexual assault investigation and not rape as it is currently being bandied.
Baba Ijesha struggled during his early years in show business and considered calling it quits and even delved into music at some point.
He finally caught a break after starring in ‘Omo Orita’ which was written and produced by Saheed Balogun.
After many years of being scandal-free, the prominent Yoruba actor became a household name.
Sadly, the allegations against him involve rape, which has, in recent times, branded its name into the nation’s consciousness.
Since April 22, 2021, when PREMIUM TIMES reported the incident, he has faced some serious backlash and lost his goodwill.
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