IS THE TRAP SET FOR BABA IJESHA LEGALLY JUSTIFIED?

In the last few days, Nollywood actor, Olanrewaju James (also known as Baba Ijesha) has been in the news for sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl, and is currently cooling off with the Nigeria Police.

The background story is that Baba Ijesha had allegedly molested the teenager seven years ago. Considering the inefficacies of allegations lacking concrete proof, and how easily an alleged criminal can get off the hook of accusation, the teenager’s Guardian, Princess (popular comedienne), installed a CCTV and invited Baba Ijesha over by way of entrapment. The trap was such that Baba Ijesha was let alone in the house with the girl. His only company aside the girl was the CCTV. Without any instigation or coercion, Baba Ijesha swung into action. His only motivation appeared to be his inclination to pounce on a minor. He was caught red-handed, the young lady and the CCTV footage being the star witness and prime evidence respectively.

Baba Ijesha was arrested and detained. Naturally, some people came to his aid by raising vital questions concerning his alleged culpability. The controversies and the lack of trust in the ability of the Police not to compromise on the case led to the release of the CCTV footage for public view, with the identity of the teenager, blurred.

In the 7:53 video released by the Punch, Baba Ijesha was seen making sexual advances towards the teenager in a manner that might ground an action for sexual abuse, indecent and sexual assault. The law frowns at these. The Supreme Court has held that child molesters are barbaric animals of dangerous specie

It is doubtful whether the current act by Baba Ijesha is sufficient to prove the previous allegation of molestation committed seven years ago. But there is no doubt he has a question to answer regarding his recent conduct.

Is the trap set for Baba Ijesha legally justified?

Notwithstanding the CCTV footage, some are wondering whether the system adopted in trapping Baba Ijesha is legal. Some have argued that proof of the trap could constitute a valid defence. But what does the law say?

In law, the trapping of Baba Ijesha is regarded as entrapment. Entrapment is a system adopted by law enforcement agents or private individuals to catch a suspected criminal pants down. We have what is known as fair trapping and unfair trapping. Fair trapping involves the mere provision of opportunity for the suspect to commit the offence. But where in addition to providing the opportunity, the person was instigated, forced, incited or persuaded to commit the act, it is known as unfair trapping. The world over, unfair trapping does not enjoy much support as it is regarded as what it is, unfair.

In an extensive research on entrapment, Akinola Akintayo provides a comprehensive opinion on the subject. Commenting on the position under Nigerian law, he stated:

If the trapping is unfair: that is, law enforcement agents have acted beyond merely providing opportunity for the accused person to commit the offence, but had incited or instigated him, the agents will be held to be agent provocateurs whose evidence requires corroboration before the accused can be convicted. If the trapping is fair: that is, law enforcement agents merely facilitated the commission of the offence by the accused person without more, they are not regarded as agent provocateurs whose evidence requires corroboration before the accused can be convicted. The implication of this is that once the evidence of the agent-provocateur is corroborated such evidence becomes relevant and admissible to ground conviction.

Entrapment, whether fair or unfair, could constitute a violation of certain fundamental rights of a person. However, fair entrapment may be rightly justified notwithstanding. This is because, under Section 45 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), constitutional rights may be limited in the interest of public security, welfare, health, e.t.c.

From the foregoing, a look at the CCTV footage reveals that Baba Ijesha was subject of fair entrapment. He was merely presented an opportunity to display his other talents not seen on the screen. He did not fail. Just like on set, he delivered. What is left now is for him to face the law and the people.

 



Stephen Azubuike
Author: Stephen Azubuike
Stephen is a lawyer with expertise in Commercial Dispute Resolution and Technology Law practice. He is a Partner at Infusion Lawyers. He has successfully argued cases from the High Courts of various jurisdictions to the Appellate Courts on behalf of financial institutions, other corporate bodies and multinationals. He has worked with a number of startup tech companies. He tweets @siazubuike.

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