The Nigerian afrobeat musician Seun Kuti has been imprisoned by the Nigeria Police Force. A civil rights organization, the Youth Rights Campaign (YRC), has called for his immediate release, claiming that he has complied with his bail conditions.
The group sought a proper censure for the Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, SP Benjamin Hundeyin, and other officers who, according to the YRC, had broken the law in their attempt to nail Seun, stressing that Kuti’s prosecution is politically motivated.
Seun’s experience with the police was characterized as a witch hunt by the group that made the demand in a statement signed by its National Coordinator, Michael Adaramoye Lenin, and the National Secretary, Francis Nwapa. They also demanded that Seun receive a fair trial “if truly the police have a genuine case.”
According to the YRC, “Seun Kuti’s ongoing trial for allegedly assaulting a police officer has devolved into a political trial and vendetta that threatens the rights of all.” We assert that the police have broken so many laws and violated numerous rules in their haste to convict Seun Kuti that this trial no longer satisfies the standards of what a reasonable person can consider a fair trial.
“In particular, we denounce the vindictive and unprofessional tactics of Police PRO Benjamin Hundeyin and demand that he and other officers be disciplined appropriately for breaking several laws in their pursuit of Seun, including subjecting him to an unfair media trial without allowing the court to do its job.
Seun Kuti, a radical musician and the late Fela Anikulapo Kuti’s son, was arrested after turning himself in on May 15, 2023, was charged in court, and was placed on remand for his involvement in a fight with a police officer on May 13, 2023, on the Third Mainland Bridge.
Additionally, the police have treated Seun in a cruel and unprofessional manner thus far in an effort to degrade him, in violation of the natural justice principles that state that an accused person is believed innocent until and unless proven guilty. For instance, despite peacefully turning himself in in contravention of Section 5 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law, Seun was handcuffed.
In apparent contravention of Section 9 of the Lagos State Administration of Criminal Justice Law, which forbids any type of a parade of criminal suspects in the state, Seun was also “paraded before media cameras,” according to YRC.
Seun has been famished while in custody, and the police have already searched his home because of an alleged offense he allegedly committed outside his home in broad daylight.
“In keeping with their deeds of revenge and desperation, the Police again today, May 18, re-arrested Seun in court without his attorneys and despite the fact that he had been granted bail by the Magistrate as of today. In the absence of Seun’s attorneys, the police were able to get a black market order to extend his custody until Monday.
“This is obviously an effort to fabricate fresh allegations against Seun, and it demonstrates that the case at hand involves more than just Seun’s purported May 13 activity. As far as anyone can tell, Seun’s status as an activist and well-known opponent of the State and government, particularly his support for young people’s struggles against police brutality and State oppression in October 2020, is what is being put on trial in this case.
“It is obvious that the police want to exploit Seun Kuti to send a message to the labor and youth movement, which is why the case has now turned into a political trial intended to retaliate against individuals who have consistently criticized the police institution for its acts of impunity against the Nigerian people.
“Although we do not support violence, it must be highlighted that the police authorities’ actions thus far in this instance have in fact confirmed why many Nigerians who have come into contact with the police institution frequently harbor animosity toward it and feel inspired to assault its members. This is due to the fact that the police are an evil, oppressive institution of the State that routinely extorts, ostracizes, beats, kills, and degrades common Nigerians and youth.
The YRC demands Seun Kuti’s immediate release because of his unfair trial and the police’s obvious desperation to imprison him without cause. He has previously complied with his bail condition.
“Most importantly, given the ongoing oppression and extortion of common Nigerians by the police, we call on youth organizations and activists to come together to discuss what must be done to rekindle a mass movement with nonviolent protests and demonstrations to demand an end to police brutality and state oppression,” the statement continued.