Group writes IGP Alkali Baba, accused Police for been Bias in Seun Kutii’s Case
Nigerians have expressed concerned over the ongoing detention of Seun Kuti, a son to late Fela Kuti who was arrested over assault on Police officer on duty in Lagos, Nigeria.
Oluseun Anikulapo Kuti (born 11 January 1983), popularly known Seun Kuti, is a Nigerian musician, singer and the youngest son of Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti. Seun leads his father’s former band Egypt 80.
This, some Nigerians have come together in solidarity with detained afro beat music icon and are working very hard to see to his freedom.
Below is the open letter written to Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba
We are writing to express our concern regarding the recent arrest of Seun Kuti, in relation to the viral slapping video that has been circulating on social media. We are deeply troubled by the manner in which the police have handled the investigation since you ordered his arrest for slapping a police officer. Since then, Seun has stated that his human and emotional reaction was because a drunk driving policeman hit his vehicle, almost running him and his entire nuclear family off the Third Mainland Bridge. We believe that this is the claim that you have ordered an investigation into.
Firstly, we must point out that Seun Kuti has been cooperative with the police and has voluntarily turned himself in for questioning. Upon the arrest order, he was advised by many, who feared that the Nigerian state and the police were unaccountable, to go into exile to save his life from an alleged vendetta by the police for being at the forefront of #EndSARS protests against police brutality. Against such advice, Seun presented himself to the police on Monday. The way he was treated from that moment calls for serious concerns and raises questions about the fairness of the investigation.
The treatment of Seun Kuti by the police seems as if the Nigerian Police Force is trying to be a judge in their own case. Seun was cuffed, mocked, bullied, and threatened by police officers as he was paraded around the station. His wife was denied access to him to give him food, as a way of torturing him with hunger. His lawyer was not given access to participate in the investigation interview by the police, probably to obtain a forced statement from him. We are troubled by the manner in which he has been treated since his arrest. He has been subjected to the above indignities and inhumane treatment for an alleged minor misdemeanor, and we believe this is in violation of his constitutional rights. As a citizen of Nigeria, he is entitled to the full protection of the law and to be treated with respect and dignity, regardless of the allegations against him.
The video in question has been widely shared on social media, and while it is clear that Seun Kuti is seen slapping someone in the video, it is not clear what led to that altercation or what happened immediately before or after the incident. This is what we believe the police are meant to investigate. It is our understanding that the police have not conducted a thorough investigation to ascertain the full facts surrounding the incident, when the Lagos State PPRO, one Benjamin Hundeyin, went on social media and on Punch newspaper to issue a report of the investigation on Monday 15th May 2023. He claimed that part of the findings of his ‘concluded’ investigations is that Seun Kuti apologized to the cop and gave him 12,000 to repair his vehicle. Asides from the fact that the claim is a lie to further the media trial that Mr. Hundeyin is prosecuting, it is also not sensible that the details of the investigation will be presented to the media by the police before it is presented to the court, for the accused to have their fair hearing. Therefore, we are urging you to ensure that Seun’s rights are protected and that he is treated fairly and justly during the course of this investigation.
We are also aware that the police tried to secretly arraign Seun yesterday until his lawyers showed up. In court, the judge issued a bail that gave the police only 48 hours to keep Seun for investigation. The continued prevention of Seun’s lawyers from having access to him, even after the court arraignment is a further sign that the police are not interested in meeting up with the court deadline but to keep Seun for as long as possible, as indicated in their application to the court to remand him for 21 days.
Without concluding the investigation for the allegation for which the police required 21 days of investigation, the police went to search Seun’s house for exhibits of other crimes and seized his wife’s phone in the process. We condemn the seizure of his wife’s phone for trying to record the police search to prevent the police from planting anything incriminating, especially when the only basis for the initial case that the police are trying to build is a phone video recording.
While we understand that the assault on video is self-defense (and even if the slap was unprovoked, it would only be a minor misdemeanor), we are also calling on the police to conduct and conclude a thorough and impartial investigation into the incident within the 48 hours stipulated by the court, in order to establish the full facts and to ensure that justice is served.
Beyond the police investigation, we call for an open public probe of the injustices committed during the police investigation, as a test for the reported injustices that the police commits against Nigerians during their investigation -a public probe that will not be biased toward Seun Kuti’s victimization that the police intend to present, parade, and hang as a criminal. We also use this medium to demand that the Nigerian police force must stop searching innocent Nigerian phones who go out to their lawful businesses and places of work. We believe the matter brought before you must have the necessary justice and you must use your office to ensure this matter is adequately treated.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
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Adeyinka Oloye Tondu
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