A Yoruba actor, Omiyinka Olanrewaju, popularly known as Baba Ijesha, was on Wednesday arraigned at a magistrate court at Yaba, Lagos State.
The actor is being tried over charges bothering on rape, sexual assault and abuse of a minor.
Mr Olanrewaju was brought into the premises of the magistrate court around 12 noon, and alongside other suspects.
The actor was limping and visibly shaking – an appearance which suggests a bad health condition.
Shortly after his arrival, he was arraigned before P.E Nwaka, a Magistrate at the Yaba magistrate court.
Defendant pleads ‘Not Guilty’
Reading out the charges against the actor, the court clerk listed five offences.
They include indecent treatment of a child, defilement of a Child, sexual assault by penetration, attempted sexual assault by penetration and sexual assault.
The offences contravene sections 135, 137, 261, 2020 262 and 263 of the Lagos State Criminal Law 2015.
The actor pleaded not guilty to all charges against him.
While in the witness box, Mr Olanrewaju kept bending, showing signs of discomfort.
The magistrate, Mr Nwaka who noticed the gestures of the defendant asked if he was fine.
“Are you okay? Do you want to sit down? Give him a chair to sit on,” the magistrate said.
Giving his submission, the prosecutor in the matter, S.A Adebesin told the magistrate that information had been filed before the High Court on the matter by the state prosecution.
Following the submission, the counsel to the defendant, Kayode Olabiran made a fresh application for the bail of Mr Olanrewaju.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how the actor was earlier granted bail on May 17, due to his deteriorating health conditions.
The conditions of the bail are two sureties, one being a relative of the defendant and another a level 16 officer of the Lagos State Civil Service, and a bail bond of N500,000.
Why Baba Ijesha is still in Custody
Supporting the application for bail for his client, Mr Olabiran said the actor has remained in police custody because one of the bail conditions is yet to be met.
“On May 17, the Ministry of Justice, the Judiciary, the NBA and the police took an initiate to decongest jam-packed cells across the State. My client was one of the beneficiaries and the conditions given are two sureties, one must be a blood relation and another surety not less than level 16 in the Lagos State government civil service.
“The elder brother to the defendant has appeared as a surety and we have paid the N500, 000 bail bond to the account of the Lagos State government but we have not been able to get level 16 officer to stand as surety,” Mr Olabiran said.
Explaining further, the lawyer said they got three different level 16 officers but one turned them down along the line and two others declined upon hearing that they need to get a clearance letter from the head of service.
“The level 16 officers are afraid of being issued a query and a level 16 is an Assistant Director and upward, they are scarce commodities.
“We are applying for bail on a compassionate ground and in the interest of justice,” Mr Olabiran said, urging the magistrate to consider the visibly ill health of his client.
Mobolaji Owoebute-Okedeji, a counsel from the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) opposed the bail.
“The matter has been already filed at the High Court,” he said, giving a reason for his opposition.
Giving his position on the matter, Mr Nwaka said he cannot grant the defendant bail because there are indications that the case will commence at the High court.
This is a situation of a lack of jurisdiction, because once a case is filed at an upper court, the lower court, being the magistrate in this case, ceases to have jurisdiction over the same matter.
“I have carefully considered the application of the counsel to the defendant seeking bail for the defendant and the opposition by the counsel from the DPP.
“Since there are indications that the matter is before the high court and the defendant will appear before the court, no bail can be given.
“The defendant must be accorded full medical attention by the authorities pending his arraignment at the high court,” the magistrate said.
Mr Nwaka adjourned the matter till July 13 for mention.