Lagos court denies police request to arraign Seun Kuti over assault allegations
A Lagos State Chief Magistrates Court in Yaba declined the police’s oral application on Wednesday to arraign Afrobeats singer Seun Kuti over allegations of assaulting a police officer.
Chief Magistrate Adeola Olatunbosun adjourned the case to July 3, allowing the Office of the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) time to provide legal advice on the matter.
Seun Kuti, who was released from police custody on Tuesday night, is accused of assaulting Inspector Mohammed Aminu, an officer attached to the Police Training College in Ikeja, while the officer was on official duty and in uniform.
During the hearing on Wednesday, the police counsel, Cyril Ejiofor, sought the court’s permission to arraign the singer after filing charges against him.
However, the defense lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), requested the court to dismiss the application, accusing the police of disobeying existing court orders.
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Falana stated, “We strongly object to the proposed arraignment on two solid legal grounds. Firstly, Seun Kuti is entitled to at least 48 hours’ notice to answer to the charge, as provided by Section 82 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law of Lagos. Secondly, the charge is contemptuous of the valid and existing court order issued on May 16, which mandates the transfer of the case to the state government for prosecution. The police have blatantly disregarded the court’s order.”
“Until the court orders are complied with by the Inspector General of Police (IGP), this court cannot entertain the charge from the police,” Falana added.
In response, the police counsel urged the court to dismiss the objection, citing Section 23 of the Police Act, 2020, which empowers them to prosecute cases.
The counsel argued that the Nigeria Police cannot wait for the state government as they have already submitted the case file.
“We have complied and duplicated this file to the office of the DPP. It is up to them to do their job. We cannot wait for them. We are empowered by law to prosecute all the way to the Supreme Court. Although the AG has powers to take over any case, as stated in Sections 174 and 211 of the Nigerian Constitution, we cannot wait for the state.”
“The previous week’s orders have been vacated, and we cannot rely on them as they have no effect. Nothing shall apply as a stay of proceedings, not even pending the DPP’s advice,” the police counsel argued.
In her ruling, the magistrate, who had issued the previous orders, insisted on waiting for the DPP’s advice before proceeding with the case.
An investigating police officer, Lekan Ogundare, informed the court that the defendant committed the offense on May 13 on the Third Mainland Bridge.
Ogundare claimed that the defendant drove recklessly on the bridge and intentionally obstructed a moving police vehicle.
Furthermore, Ogundare stated that the defendant repeatedly slapped Inspector Aminu on the face.
He argued that the charge of assault against Seun Kuti is in violation of Section 356 of the Nigerian Criminal Code Act.