Baba Ijesha’s Case: How superior is the Rule of Law over emotional sentiments of the society?

Nollywood actor, Olanrewaju Omiyinka, popularly known as Baba Ijesha, was entangled in the biggest scandal of the year when he was arrested on the 22nd of April, 2021 for allegedly sexually assaulting a 14-year-old minor who is the foster daughter of popular comedienne, Princess. Baba Ijesha allegedly confessed to assaulting the young girl in a viral video that was released after his arrest.
• Baba Ijesha will be charged under the following provisions of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015: Section 135, indecent treatment of a child punishable by 7 years imprisonment; Section 137, defilement of a child-, punishable by life imprisonment; Section 261, Sexual Assault by penetration punishable by life imprisonment; Section 262, Attempted Sexual Assault by Penetration, punishable by 14 years imprisonment and Section 263, Sexual Assault punishable by three years imprisonment. Although these offenses are criminal offenses, they are still bailable under the rule of law.
• Due to the ongoing indefinite strike by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria, Baba Ijesha has not been arraigned in court and is still being held in detention by the Lagos State Police Command, which is contrary to his fundamental human right.
• On Wednesday, 12th of May, 2021, fellow Nollywood actor, Yomi Fabiyi protested against the continuous detention of Baba Ijesha alongside other like-minded people at the State CIID, Panti. In response to the protest, The Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu revealed that in adherence to legal advice from the Ministry of Justice, Baba Ijesha will still be held in custody until the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria calls off its strike.
• This has caused an uproar on social media as many Nigerians have been questioning the Lagos State Police Command for seeking advice from the Ministry of Justice instead of releasing Baba Ijesha according to his fundamental human rights, while other Nigerians stood by the Commissioner of Police, saying that Baba Ijesha should be in jail till JUSUN calls off their strike.
• This isn’t the first time a suspect is illegally detained even though they aren’t proven guilty or arraigned in court. According to the latest report of the World Prison Brief, the proportion of prisoners awaiting trial in Nigeria was 72.2%, which is equal to 51,983 inmates out of the total population of 73,726 inmates. So the question is, how superior is the rule of law? Especially in this case where emotional sentiments are running high and it seems like Public Opinion is influencing the release of Baba Ijesha.

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