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Magistrate Absence Stalls Seun Kuti’s Assault Hearing

Seun Kuti

Seun Kuti, an Afrobeat musician, was charged with assault by the police on Monday, but the hearing was postponed at the Chief Magistrate Court in Lagos’ Sabo-Yaba neighborhood.

Despite Kuti and his attorney being present in court, together with the prosecution team, Chief Magistrate Adeola Olatubosun did not sit.

According to information obtained, Chief Magistrate Olatubosun is currently off work.

However, the parties involved in the case have agreed to return to court on September 27, following the court’s annual vacation, when it is anticipated that the case will continue.

At the most recent court session on May 24, the magistrate rejected a request by the Nigeria Police Force to charge Kuti with assaulting a police officer.

In order to wait for the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions’ (DPP) legal opinion on the situation, Magistrate Olatunbosun had postponed the hearing to July 3.

Following his imprisonment at the State Criminal Investigative Department, Panti since May 15, Kuti had previously been released on bond on May 23.

After filing a charge against him, the police attempted to arraign him. However, the defendant’s attorney, Femi Falana (SAN), urged the court to reject the application and charged the police with defying the court’s current instructions.

Falana raised serious legal objections to the proposed arraignment on the grounds that his client is entitled to at least 48 hours’ notice before answering the charge under Section 82 of the Lagos Administration of Criminal Justice Law, and that the police’s charge is disrespectful of the current and valid court order from May 16.

According to the order from May 16, since the police are unable to investigate and prosecute the case, after the investigation is complete, the state government will take up the case’s prosecution. Falana, however, claimed that the police had disobeyed the court’s decision outright.

This court cannot consider the police charge unless the IGP complies with the court’s directives.

“They owe it to the court to explain why they disregarded this court’s ruling regarding the prosecution of this matter. The court’s order cannot be appealed. Since the police’s application is an attempt to treat the court with provocative contempt, we implore the court to ignore it, Falana said.

The police attorney, Cyril Ejiofor, urged the court to overrule the objection in response to the senior attorney’s arguments, claiming that section 23 of the Police Act, 2020 gives them the authority to prosecute cases and that the Nigerian police cannot wait for the state government because they have already received the case file.

“We also depend on this Court’s decisions from last week. We assembled and delivered duplicate copies of this file to the DPP’s office. We must not wait for them; it is up to them to complete their task.

“The law gives us the right to take cases all the way to the Supreme Court. In accordance with Section 23 of the Police Act, we have the final say in cases that don’t contradict with Sections 174 and 211 of the Nigerian Constitution, which give the Attorney General the authority to take on any matter. However, we cannot wait for the state to act.

“The last week’s orders have been reversed, and we cannot rely on them because they are lifeless. Nothing, not even a DPP’s recommendation that is still pending, shall constitute a stay of proceedings. If a plea has not been entered, the silk is not permitted to speak in court. We request that the defendant enter a plea, Ejiofor said in his submission.

After issuing the earlier orders, the magistrate maintained in her judgement that the matter should not move forward until she had heard from the DPP.

Lekan Ogundare, the investigating police officer, claims that Seun Kuti assaulted someone on the Third Mainland Bridge on May 13.

The defendant was accused of purposely blocking a moving police car while driving dangerously on the bridge.

He is also accused of grabbing Inspector Mohammed Aminu, a police officer on official business and a member of the Police Training College in Ikeja.

The suspect allegedly repeatedly slapped the officer in the face, according to the police.

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