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Afrobeat Singer Seun Kuti at Risk of 3 Year Imprisonment Over Assault of Policeman

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LAGOS, Nigeria – Afrobeat musician Seun Kuti, son of the legendary Fela Anikulao-Kuti, could face up to three years imprisonment if found guilty of assaulting a police officer.

Kuti voluntarily reported to the Lagos State Police Command Headquarters on Monday, May 15, 2023, where he was immediately taken into custody for investigation and potential prosecution.

The action came in response to an incident on Lagos’s Third Mainland Bridge, which was captured in a widely circulated video clip.

The 12-second video, which went viral on Saturday, May 13, showed Mr. Kuti, dressed in a red shirt and white trousers, pushing and slapping a police officer beside a Toyota Hilux police van, while shouting, “You dey craze? You dey mad?” The incident drew immediate condemnation from the public, with an onlooker who filmed the event from his car commenting, “Omo na Kuti o. Na better news be this o”.

The Nigerian Criminal Code Act’s Section 356 stipulates a three-year imprisonment term for anyone found guilty of assaulting or willfully obstructing a police officer in the execution of duty.

The video triggered outrage, prompting the Inspector-General of Police, IGP, Usman Alkali Baba, to order Mr. Kuti’s arrest. The Police Service Commission, PSC, further called for his immediate prosecution.

PSC Chairman, Dr. Solomon Arase, a retired Inspector-General of Police, said, “Seun’s arraignment would serve as a deterrent to other citizens,” emphasizing that “no one has the right to assault a policeman in uniform and on official duty, no matter the offence committed by a police officer.”

Attempts to arrest Mr. Kuti over the weekend at his residence on Allen Avenue in Ikeja and at the famed Afrika Shrine, where he regularly performs, were unsuccessful.

However, on Monday, May 15, 2023, Mr. Kuti arrived at the Lagos police headquarters accompanied by his lawyer and a family representative. He was promptly handcuffed, profiled, and taken to detention.

This incident marks a significant moment for the Afrobeat star, known for his outspoken political commentary in his music, which mirrors that of his father, Fela Anikulao-Kuti, a vocal critic of the Nigerian government.

The case continues to unfold, and the music world is keenly watching the developments, raising questions about the intersection of art, politics, and law enforcement in Nigeria’s ever-evolving cultural landscape.

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