A child forensic interview expert, Mrs Anike Ajayi-Kayode, on Tuesday, narrated before an Ikeja Special Offences Court how Nollywood actor Olanrewaju James (alias Baba Ijesha) allegedly groomed and defiled a minor (name withheld).
Ajayi-Kayode is the Executive Director of the Cece Yara Foundation, a non-governmental organisation founded to prevent child sexual abuse and provide emergency intervention for children.
Testifying as the third prosecution witness, Ajayi-Kayode told the court that she was a certified child forensic interview specialist.
She said she had participated in over 25 child forensic interviews. Led in evidence by Mrs Olayinka Adeyemi, Lagos State Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Ajayi-Kayode said that the alleged victim was relaxed, cooperative and could recall events when she was being interviewed.
“The clinal presentation of child sexual abuse was quite evident. The perpetrator engaged the child in sexual activity when she was seven years old, on two occasions.
“On the 19th of April 2021, he sexually harassed her, touching her body. He told her: ‘I touched you some years back, you are so grown, so developed. Do you have a boyfriend? We have some unfinished business.
“These are the clinical presentations of child sexual abuse. “These are the dynamics of child sexual abuse and the modus operandi of perpetrators – inculcation of secrecy, intimidation, threat or coercion,” she said.
The expert noted that child sexual abuse involved only the victim and the perpetrator, adding that because of his or her vulnerability, a child might not be able to comprehend the magnitude of the offence.
Ajayi-Kayode said that after the interview, she drafted a forensic interview report. A copy of the report was presented to the court by the prosecution as evidence. It was marked as Exhibit G.
The witness also said that the forensic interview was digitally recorded. Flash drives containing the digital forensic interview of the minor was also tendered in evidence by the prosecution and was marked Exhibits H and H1.
“My conclusion is that she narrated the whole truth, she was tenacious, she was bold and relaxed,” the expert said.
At the start of proceedings, the defence had sought an adjournment due to the absence of Lead counsel Mr Babatunde Ogala (SAN) and Mr Dada Awosika (SAN).
A member of the defence team, Mr N.A. Adeyemi said that Ogala, in a letter dated Sept. 27, had asked for an adjournment of proceedings because he would be unavoidably absent.
However, the DPP opposed the request for an adjournment. Consequently, Justice Oluwatoyin Taiwo ordered that the trial should proceed with the third prosecution witness (Ajayi-Kayode) giving evidence.
The judge adjourned the case to Oct. 20 for cross-examination of the witness.
Actress and comedienne Damilola Adekoya (alias Princess), the foster mother of the minor, and Nollywood actress Iyabo Ojo were present in court during Tuesday’s proceedings.