Afrobeat Singer Seun Kuti Released on Bail Amidst Allegations of Assault

Afrobeat Singer Seun Kuti Released on Bail Amidst Allegations of Assault

Yesterday marked a significant day in the ongoing saga involving renowned Afrobeat singer, Seun Kuti, who has been embroiled in a legal battle concerning allegations of assault made against him. After voluntarily presenting himself to the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID), Panti, Yaba, Lagos, Kuti had been detained in police custody for a week. However, following his adherence to all bail conditions, he was at last set free.

As dusk fell, his team of legal representatives, spearheaded by Messrs Adeyinka Olumide-Fusika and Kunle Adegoke, had shared promising indications that Kuti’s release was imminent. This was predicated on the assurance that all prerequisites for his bail had been met diligently.

No sooner had the news of Kuti’s release broken than a palpable sense of jubilation erupted outside the police station. Friends and supporters who had steadfastly rallied behind Kuti throughout this challenging episode converged on the scene, their spirits high. A particularly memorable moment was captured in a video that rapidly gained traction online, showing an elated crowd taking turns to embrace Kuti as he stepped out of the police station, a free man once more.

In anticipation of Kuti’s return, friends and family members eagerly thronged to his residence in Ikeja, where they awaited his arrival with bated breath.

However, the joy of Kuti’s release was tempered by the simultaneous outcry from human rights lawyers and activists who voiced their vehement opposition to the perceived ill-treatment of the Afrobeat musician by the police. This outcry was precipitated by the delay in Kuti’s scheduled court hearing, which was effectively stalled due to the unavailability of the presiding Magistrate, Adeola Olatubosun.

Seun Kuti, son of the late legendary Afrobeat artist, Fela Kuti, was held in detention as per a court order at the SCID, following his formal arraignment for purportedly assaulting a police officer. Following his arraignment on May 15, 2023, the court ruled that Kuti should be detained for 48 hours, after which he would be eligible for bail.

In the subsequent course of events, the court, acting upon a petition filed by the police, resolved last Thursday to extend Kuti’s detention at the SCID for a further four days. This was purported to allow the police ample time to wrap up their investigation into the allegations.

However, in an unexpected twist, Seun Kuti court appearance that was slated for yesterday was rendered moot due to the magistrate’s reported absence from training. This information was relayed to all parties concerned by the court registrar, who also informed them that the matter had been rescheduled to today.

Simultaneously, a peaceful protest was staged outside the court premises by a sizeable crowd of Kuti’s supporters. Brandishing placards bearing messages such as ‘End police brutality’ and ‘Free Sun Kuti’, they demonstrated against the continued detention of Kuti by the police.

Francis Mwaba, an activist and the National Secretary of the Youths Rise Movement (YRM), made a fervent call for Kuti’s unconditional release. Furthermore, Kunle Ajayi, another activist and a member of the Movement of the People (MOP), accused the police of collusion with the magistrate in an alleged bid to hinder the trial.

Kuti’s legal team subsequently issued a statement expressing their confidence in his release, as they had fulfilled all the stipulated conditions for his administrative bail.

Unfortunately, this celebratory occasion was marred by reports of the police subjecting Kuti to inhumane treatment, including securing an order to conduct a mental test on him. In response to this disturbing news, Malachy Ugwumadu, former President of the Center for Defence of Human Rights (CDHR), urged the police to respect Kuti’s rights as a defendant, as protected under Nigerian law. He reminded them of the provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law (ACJL), the Constitution of the Federal Republic, and the Anti-torture Act of 2011, all of which prohibit any form of inhumane or degrading treatment of a suspect.

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