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Seun Kuti: Absence Of Magistrate Stalls Assault Hearing

Parties in the proceedings agreed to come back to the court on September 27, after the courts annual vacation.


File photo of Afrobeat musician, Seun Kuti.

 

The hearing in the assault case brought by the police against Afrobeat singer, Seun Kuti, failed to go on at the Chief Magistrate Court sitting in the Sabo-Yaba area of Lagos on Monday.

Chief Magistrate Adeola Olatubosun did not sit even though Kuti and his counsel, as well as the prosecution team were present in court.

It was gathered that Chief Magistrate Olatubosun is currently on leave.

Parties in the proceedings have, however, agreed to come back to the court on September 27, after the courts annual vacation, when the case is expected to continue.

At the last sitting of the court on May 24, the magistrate dismissed an application by the Nigeria Police Force seeking to arraign Kuti over an alleged assault of a police officer.

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Magistrate Olatunbosun had adjourned to July 3 to await the legal advice from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) on the matter.

Kuti had earlier been released on bail on May 23 following his detention at the State Criminal Investigative Department, Panti since May 15.

The police had then moved to arraign him having preferred a charge against him. But Femi Falana (SAN), who represented the defendant, urged the court to dismiss the application and instead accused the police of disobeying the subsisting orders of court.

Falana had taken serious objection to the proposed arraignment on two solid legal grounds; that his client is entitled to at least 48 hours notice within which to answer to the charge, by virtue of Section 82 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law of Lagos and most importantly, that the charge filed by the police is contemptuous of the valid and subsisting court order of May 16.

The order of May 16 had indicated that upon the completion of investigation, the prosecution of the case is to be transferred to the state government, as the police can’t investigate and prosecute the case. But Falana said that the police in total defiance, had ignored the order of the court.

“Until the court orders are complied with by the IGP, this court can’t entertain the charge from the police.”

“They owe it a duty to disclose to the court why they have overruled this court on the prosecution of this case. There is no appeal against the court’s order. We urge the court to disregard the application of the police, as it is an attempt to treat the court with provocative contempt,” Falana said.

In his response to the senior lawyer’s arguments, the police counsel, Cyril Ejiofor urged the court to dismiss the objection saying that section 23 of the Police Act, 2020, empowers them to prosecute cases and that the Nigeria police cannot wait for the state government, having already sent the case file to them.

“We also rely on last week’s rulings of this Court. We have complied and duplicated this file to the office of the DPP. It is left for them to do their job,
We cannot wait for them.

“We are empowered by law to prosecute all the way to the Supreme Court. Under Section 23 of the Police Act, we have ultimate powers to prosecute which aren’t in conflict with sections 174 and 211 of the Nigerian Constitution, which gives the AG powers to take over any case, but we cannot wait for the state.

“The orders of last week have been vacated and we cannot rely on them as they have no life. Nothing shall apply as a stay of proceedings, not even a pending DPP’s advice. It is unlawful for silk to address the court when a plea hasn’t been taken. We urge the court to order the defendant to take his plea,” Ejiofor submitted.

In her ruling, the magistrate, having issued the previous orders, insisted on awaiting the DPP’s advice before proceeding with the case.

According to the investigating police officer, Lekan Ogundare, Seun Kuti committed the offence of assault on May 13 on the Third Mainland Bridge.

The defendant was said to have driven dangerously on the bridge and deliberately blocked a moving police vehicle.

He is also alleged to have grabbed one Inspector Mohammed Aminu attached to the Police Training College, Ikeja, who was on official movement and in police uniform.

The police also said the defendant slapped the officer several times on his face.