There was a mild drama in the Yaba Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday as a human rights attorney, Femi Falana (SAN) blocked the effort of the Nigerian police to charge Afrobeat musician, Seun Kuti afresh for assault.
Recall that the Presiding Magistrate, Adeola Olatunbosun, was unable to attend court on Tuesday, having gone for training, and the case adjourned.
Speaking in court today, Falana raised two critical legal objections. First, he noted that the police were just presenting the fresh charges to him in court instead of the 48 hours prescribed by law and therefore failed to provide the defendant with adequate time to prepare his defence.
Second, following the Chief Magistrate’s order that the case file should be sent to the Directorate of Public Prosecutions, Falana described the police prosecutor’s latest effort as contemptuous of the court order.
The Chief Magistrate ordered the police to seek DPP’s legal advice on May 16 2023, but the police refused to adhere to the order.
Falana told the court that they can’t prosecute unless they appeal the judge’s order.
Kuti’s lawyers had said the purpose of Tuesday’s sitting was to receive the Lagos State Director of Public Prosecutions’ (DPP) advice.
The legal team on Tuesday said, “The Court, as you will recall, had ordered that the prosecution of the case must be by the DPP’s office and not by the Police, hence the Police was also ordered to send the case file to the DPP for evaluation and decision as to prosecution.
The court was, therefore, to sit today to receive the DPP’s advice, but did not because, as we’re informed, the Magistrate is attending a training course. However, the Advice of the DPP is not ready as the police investigation team is still holding on to the case file.
Nevertheless, the release of Mr. Kuti on bail, as ordered by the Magistrate, is only waiting for administrative approval. That process has nothing to do with whether or not the court has a physical sitting. We are hopeful that Mr. Kuti will be out today on the bail granted him, having fulfilled the terms.”
The case was adjourned till July 3 for legal advice from the DPP.