The Advocates for Children and Vulnerable People’s Network, a human rights group in Lagos State has said justice must be served in the case of defilement of a minor against popular Nigerian actor, Olanrewaju Omiyinka, popularly known as Baba Ijesha.
ACVPN, in a statement issued on Thursday by its Chief Operating Officer, Ebenezer Omejalile, said if the suspect is released as reported in the media, this would mean fights against gender-based violence are a waste of resources.
Omejalile called on the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu to ensure justice is served in abeyance to the existing laws protecting the rights of the child.
The statement read, “We, the Advocates For Children And Vulnerable Persons Network ACVPN totally condemn this arm-twisting of existing laws that clearly state categories of punishment accrued to various offences.
“Lagos State Ministry of Justice in the last few weeks through its social media handle published punishments for various offences. Armed Robbery and cultism attract between 15- and 21-years jail term respectively with no option of fine or probation. Now, those individuals who often boast and wreak havoc, with so much impunity would think twice before they misbehave.
“Defilement/ rape now attracts life imprisonment in Nigeria. Some cases have got such sentences across Nigeria. Lagos State, regarded as the Centre of Excellence, should raise its operations beyond a reasonable doubt.
“Being a celebrity does not make one above the law. We watched keenly the way the investigation of Baba Ijesha’s case is presently being handled by the Gender/Anti-Human Trafficking State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID), Panti and I must confess we need to raise our hat for their performance devoid of any of sentiments.
“Robert Kelly popularly known as R Kelly, the famous American musician tagged as ‘Surviving R Kelly’ is currently serving his time in the American correctional centre for his paedophile offence, American government didn’t protect him because he was famous despite his contribution to the American entertainment industry.
“Baba Ijesha confessed to the crime and proven medical evidence is available to back it up. It’s really a show of shame that some Nollywood actors are still in a state of denial and showed solidarity with Baba Ijesha.
“Our take on this case: We call on the Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu to maintain a high level of integrity and discharge of his lawful duty in abeyance to the existing Laws, Child Rights Acts 2007, The Violence Against Person’s Prohibition Act (VAPP 2015) The Lagos State Child Rights Law CRL 2007.
“It should be noted that survivors of such crimes can only be of sound mind when justice is duly served. Baba Ijesha should face the consequences of his actions because injury to one is an injury to all. Princess should not be blamed for any reason because paedophilia is not written on any body’s face.
“Lagos CP is lucky to have radical investigators as Gender Unit heads for both State Command and SCID, Panti; they should be encouraged and not discouraged by the powers that be.
“We categorically state clearly that if Baba Ijesha is released tomorrow as permutated by a section of the media, it would mean that all we have been doing on Gender-Based Violence, will amount to nothing and a waste of resources.
“The UN Women and Girls Initiative Spotlight Initiative is a waste resource if justice is not served in this case. Also, it would take us 20 years backward on the International Priority action on End Violence Against Children that Nigeria adopted in 2016 amount to nothing.
“To those who are calling and working tirelessly with so much propaganda to frustrate this case, your efforts cannot withstand the just because our part is like a shining Star.
“We call on all State actors and non-state actors to say no to all forms of violence against children.
“Great laws don’t bring great men but great men bring great laws. This is Our Stand on the case of Baba Ijesha and other cases in the Custody of Lagos State Police Command.”
A media report on Thursday had it that a directive had been given for the release of Baba Ijesha from custody.
It was said that this is due to the ongoing strike by members of the Judicial Staff Union of Nigeria, as courts are not sitting and the suspect could not be detained indefinitely without trial.