Counsel to popular actor Baba Ijesha, in his alleged defilement case, are holding on to the way he was allegedly treatment to seek freedom for him.
In their pursuit of his case, they, on Thursday asserted that the fact that he was handcuffed, beaten and forced to sit on the ground meant that the confessional statement he made was done under duress.
This is as Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo of an Ikeja Special Offences Court has fixed Dec. 15 to rule on the admissibility of the confessional statement of Nollywood actor Olanrewaju James, who is facing allegations of defilement.
Taiwo fixed the date on Thursday after the prosecution and defence teams adopted their written addresses on the trial-within-trial.
Recall that during the court proceedings on Nov. 19, the defence, led by Mr Babatunde Ogala (SAN) and Mr Dada Awosika (SAN), had objected to the confessional statement of James, alias Baba Ijesha, being admitted as evidence.
The objection was predicated on the ground that the statement the Nollywood actor gave to the police was made under duress.
Taiwo, during the Nov. 19 proceedings, had granted their request for a trial-within-trial to determine the voluntariness of the statement.
After the trial-within-trial, she had adjourned for adoption of written addresses.
During Thursday’s proceedings, Awosika, while adopting his written address, told the court that the defence had filed a response to that of the prosecution.
He objected to the submission of the prosecution that the defendant was not tortured.
Citing Section 35(1) of the Evidence Act, Awosika argued that in criminal matters, there are two burdens of proof, noting that “one can change and the other doesn’t change.”
He said that the defendant had put forward facts before the court which substantiate the use of oppression.
The counsel said, “It is for the court to look at evidence by the defendant that he was handcuffed, beaten and forced to sit on ground.
“Does that not qualify as evidence of oppression?”
Citing section 29(5) of the Evidence Act, Awosika argued further: “Even from the prosecution’s evidence, the defendant was sitting on the ground and shaking; one cannot make statement under that condition.”
He urged the court to discountenance the submission of the prosecution.
Responding, the lead state prosecutor, Mr Yusuf Sule, contended that there was no evidence before the court that the defendant was oppressed while making his confessional statement.
Sule said that the defendant told the court that he was beaten before he was brought to the police station.
This, he said, “means it was a mob attack from which he was rescued.”
He noted that the defendant was trying to mislead the court.
Sule urged the court to uphold that the confessional statement of Baba Ijesha was voluntarily made.
Following the adoption of the written addresses, Taiwo ordered a witness summon to be issued for a prosecution witness, Mr Brown Asuquo, mandating him to appear in court at the next adjourned date.
NAN reports that Baba Ijesha faces a six-count charge bordering on indecent treatment of a child, sexual assault, attempted sexual assault by penetration and sexual assault by penetration.
The offences contravene Sections 135, 259, 262, 263 and 262 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015.