Ever since the ugly news of the involvement of popular comedy actor, Olanrewaju Omiyinka known as ‘Baba Ijesha’ in alleged rape and paedophilia, filtered in last week Thursday, members of the Nigerian movie industry and the general public have been aghast and bemused that such a talented actor could have been associated with such crime not to talk of being involved in such a dastardly immoral act as announced by the spokesman of the Lagos State Police Command.
The development was still generating reactions and anger on the social media as the time of filing this report. The spokesman of the Lagos Police Command, Mr Olumuyiwa Adejobi, in a statement, said the actor was caught after CCTV cameras had been installed in the home of the young girl. This was after one Princess Adekola Adekanya had suspected and reported the matter at Sabo Police Station and a CCTV camera was planted at the home to ascertain the veracity of the defilement.
Baba Ijesha, when confronted owned up to the crime which according to reports had been on for seven years when the young girl was just seven years old. The case is presently being investigated properly at the Gender Unit of the State CID, Panti, Yaba in Lagos.
Presently, the actor, aged 48, is cooling his heels in police detention. The guild where he belongs, Theatre Arts And Motion Picture Practitioners Association of Nigeria (TAMPPAN), condemned the act adding that justice must be served to their colleague if proven guilty.
Damilola Adekoya popularly known as Princess, a comedienne disclosed midweek that the 14-year old girl who was defiled was in her custody when the crime was committed. Princess who released a video on social media, in tears noted that it was during one of Baba Ijesha’s visits to her apartment that he molested one of the three girls living with her. She stirred up emotion that the repeated acts of defilement for seven years affected the child academically.
But Lanre Ominyinka is not the first sexual offender in this clime as there have been celebrities who had also been accused of rape, paedophilia or other sexual crimes
D’Banj: In June 2020, Seyitan accused afro-pop artiste, D’Banj of allegedly raping her in a hotel room. The lady who shared details on the social media of meeting the artiste at an all-white party at the Eko Atlantic in 2018 and she had rejected his love advances only for D’Banj whose real name is Dapo Oyebanji, to enter her room unannounced and raped her. Seyitan, later settled out of court with the music artiste after the latter had sued for defamation, demanding for a public apology and N100 million in damages amongst a host of other requests.
Ernest Obi: Movie actor cum director, Ernest Obi in 2007 was reported to have allegedly raped his 15-year-old stepdaughter, getting her pregnant and made her to have two abortions. His estranged wife, Joanne and mother of the victim along with Ernest narrated their sides of the story to a soft sell magazine, the latter denying his involvement in the act.
African China: In April, 2006 popular Ghetto singer, African China was arrested in London for allegedly raping a lady, Denise McClurkin who he was said to have spent the night with after performing at Basketmouth’s event- Laff and Jamz. Denise who said she was drunk, and must have been taken advantage off, was the friend of his female fan, Caroline Ojokola. The Nigerian singer whose real name is Chinagorom Onuoha, was later vindicated of the offence.
If there is any lesson to learn from these sexual crimes labelled at Nigerian celebrities, it’s the fact that it doesn’t matter when the crimes were committed, it would seep out and affect the careers of the offenders as well as the public’s perception of them. The sex scandal of American singer, R. Kelly and that of ace comedian, Bill Cosby is a case study.
Bill Cosby: After becoming famous and successful as a comedian, Bill Cosby was accused by multiple women of perverted sexual offences ranging from rape, drug-facilitated sexual assault, sexual battery, child sexual abuse and sexual misconduct. The 83-year old who was convicted in 2018, was sentenced to a maximum of 10 years in prison and despite the overwhelming allegations against him, Cosby maintained that he had never engaged in non-consensual sex and appealed his judgment in 2019.
Kelly: Famous R & B singer, R. Kelly is an accomplished singer and Grammy Award-winning artiste. He was accused of multiple sexual crimes which he denied. A documentary series titled “Surviving R. Kelly” was released in 2019, detailing multiple sexual crimes allegations by many women. Presently, R. Kelly is being incarcerated at Metropolitan Correctional Centre in Chicago since July 2019 on indictment of offences based on sexual abuse and misconduct often with underage girls.
Psychologist and mental health experts speak:
A mental health advocate, Dr Maymunah Kadiri, said sexual crimes are not peculiar to celebrities alone as it can be perpetrated by any class of people in the society and prevention begins with addressing the cultural values and norms that tolerate sexual assault.
“The news of a fully gown male adult who has been defiling a young lady since she was seven broke me, the fact that the man is a public figure, someone most young adults and youth look up to does not help the matter as I begin to wonder what examples is he laying down for them? What could have made him do that? Why a young girl?
“Prevention begins with addressing the cultural values and norms that support and tolerate sexual assault. This is a long-term undertaking requiring sustained leadership and effort. Any ongoing development of an evidence-based modality should be anchored in the context of each environment as this is fundamental to sexual assault prevention and solution.
“Portfolios across all levels of government, including education, health, justice, and crime prevention, as well as the non-government sector and community stakeholders, each have a significant contribution to make. No single agency of government can address sexual assault alone,” she posited.
A consultant psychologist, Nifemi Sowole, said paedophilia can be traced way back to the childhood of the perpetrator.
“Such persons from early stage of childhood, they can get anything they want, whichever way they can get it and this makes them exercise control of the vulnerable when they grow up, not learning to delay gratification. Parents need to educate and communicate with their children early on sex education and make them identify their sexual body parts are sacred and should not be touched by anybody,” she said.