AFROBEAT musician Seun Kuti was on Tuesday, May 16, remanded in police custody after he was arraigned for assaulting a police officer in Lagos state.
He is to remain in custody for 48 hours, according to the order issued by a Magistrate Court sitting in Yaba, Lagos.
The son of legendary Afrobeat musician, Fela Kuti, was arrested on Monday, May 15, after a video clip, which went viral on the social media, showed him slapping the policeman on the Third Mainland Bridge in Lagos.
The 12 seconds video clip sparked outrage on social media, with many Nigerians calling for Kuti’s arrest and prosecution.
Kuti turned himself in to the police on Monday and was arraigned in court on Tuesday, May 16.
He was charged with assault on a police officer, an offense that carries a maximum sentence of two years in prison.
The prosecution asked the court to remand Kuti in custody for 21 days pending legal advice from the Directorate of Public Prosecutions.
However, Kuti’s lawyer, Femi Falana, a senior advocate of Nigeria, argued that his client should be granted bail.
The magistrate, Adeola Olatunbosun, after listening to both parties requested five minutes of recess to deliberate on the matter on her own.
When the court reconvened, the magistrate announced her ruling, stating that she would not rely solely on the police investigation to take her decision.
She emphasised that the court would not be swayed by public opinion but would instead ensure justice was served.
The magistrate also ordered the duplication of the case file to be sent to the Directorate of Public Prosecutions within 72 hours.
The court further specified that the musician would be granted bail after the 48-hour remand period, requiring a bail amount of N1 million and two responsible sureties.
The sureties must provide a verifiable three-year tax payment receipt, and one of them must possess a landed property within the court’s jurisdiction.
“Court has decided to override any public opinion and pass the judgment of the court,” the magistrate said.
“Following the remand application presented before the court, I am advising that the case file be duplicated and sent to the Directorate of public prosecutions within 72 hours.
“The defendant is hereby remanded for 48 hours in police custody to allow the police to conclude their investigation.
“After 48 hours, the defendant will be granted bail in the sum of N1m with two responsible sureties, a three years tax payment receipt that is verifiable; one of the sureties must have a landed property within the court jurisdiction.”
She adjourned the case till May 23, 2023, for further hearing.
Why we handcuffed Seun Kuti… Police
Meanwhile, the Lagos State Police Command had defended it’s decision to handcuff the musician even though he voluntarily turned himself in.
Many Nigerians, who reacted to the development on Twitter, criticised the police for the action, which they felt was unjustified.
One of Kuti’s lawyers, Adeyinka Olumide-Fusika, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), on Monday decried how the musician was treated after his arrest by the police.
Olumide-Fusika, who accompanied Kuti to the state police headquarters, said the handcuffing and media parade of the suspect was illegal.
The senior lawyer contended that Kuti remained innocent until proven guilty by a law court.
“Mr. Seun Kuti reported himself in the office of the Commissioner of Police at the Police Command, Ikeja, at 8 a.m. today, Monday, May 15, 2023,” he said.
“I accompanied him to the Ikeja police station together with another lawyer, Mr Femi Akinyemi, from Falana and Falana Chambers.
“However, there was no interrogation as it was decided he would be moved to the Force Criminal Investigation Unit at Panti, Yaba. Before his movement, Mr. Seun Kuti, was handcuffed and his photograph taken in the open by the Lagos PPRO, Mr. Benjamin Hundeyin, who coordinated the parade and apparently shared the photograph of his parade in the media.”
Reacting to the lawyer’s statement, Lagos State state police spokesperson, Ben Hundeyin in a tweet on Twitter, gave reasons for the decision to handcuff the Afrobeat singer.
Hundeyin, who reportedly coordinated the Kuti’s parade at the Lagos police headquarters on Monday, suggested that the musician has the propensity to get violent and evade justice.
Defending the handcuffs, Hundeyin said: “Because the law empowers us to handcuff any suspect who has shown propensity for violence and propensity for evading justice.”