More than one Month after Abuja Concert, Naira Marley Yet to be Prosecuted

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More than one Month after Abuja Concert, Naira Marley Yet to be Prosecuted
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Nwolu Obiajulu

As Nigeria battle to contain the spread of COVID-19, the country in line with global containment measure imposed a nationwide lockdown.

 

The imposed lock down restricted inter-state travels across Nigeria. Surprisingly, Nigerians woke to the news of a concert at Jabi Lake Mall, Abuja which was headlined by popular soapy crooner, Azeez Adeshina popularly known by his stage name, Naira Marley.

 

The show attracted a massive crowd who neither observed social distancing nor wore face masks as prescribed by the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on coronavirus which had prescribed safety protocols to regulate gatherings. The concert was a breach of the safety guidelines which proscribed mass gatherings.

 

The restrictions which brought religious activities at churches and mosques to a hiatus especially in Abuja, Lagos and Ogun which are worst hit by the pandemic were violated for an entertainment event.

 

The 29-year-old Agege, Lagos state born singer flew to Abuja from Lagos in a chartered jet operated by Executive Jet Services in company of former Big Brother Naija housemate Kim Oprah who was the host for the show. Nigerians questioned the relevance of the concert for it to have prompted special pass from aviation body.

 

The management of the flight company was quick to respond to the backlash for its role in flying the singer to the concert in violation of interstate travel ban.

 

Sam Iwuajoku, the Chairman/CEO of Executive Jet Services in defense said the flight was cleared to convey a judge from Lagos to Abuja but the judge sort alternative means which prompted the company to accept a request which it perceived to be from Babatunde Fashola, Honourable minister of works.

 

Iwuajoku said the passenger manifest which he relied upon to approve the flight had a name similar to that of the minister. He went on to describe Naira Marley and his crew as “a bunch of useless people”.

 

Naira Marley responded through posts on his social media handle saying, “Lool they asked for our names on the jet though and looooooooool ur pilot is a Marlian and everybody there is a Marlian too.. My name is Azeez Adeshina Fashola and my lil brothers name is Moshood Babatunde Fashola???????????? and u was (sic) begging me to tag y’all.”

 

He went on to ask his fans to boycott the airline by saying, “Do u know that over 20,000 Marlians travel with executive jet a month. We won’t be using your useless airline again for calling us useless. Thank God we didn’t crash on that flight sha because we nearly did. BTW We didn’t book the flight ourselves.”

The fallout of the concert led to closure of the mall and indefinite suspension of Executive Jet services. A Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Magistrate has since ordered reopening of the mall owing to its economic impact on employers and tenants.  The Jabi Mall showpiece was not the only time during the lockdown that the singer contravened safety guidelines. Prior to the event, he was pictured as one of the guests at a house party organised by Funke Akindele. The actress threw a birthday house party for her husband, Abdulrasheed Bello, professionally known as JJC Skillz.

 

Though government threatened to prosecute Naira Marley after the concert, more than one month after the July 13 concert, no legal action has been instituted against the musician while other key actors have been reprimanded. This begs for answer to the question, does the failure of government to prosecute the singer after so long suggest that laws in Nigeria are made for a few?

 

The imposed lockdown caused a whole a lot of hardship on Nigerians who depend on daily income to feed their families. It is therefore, absurd that the government would slide such an issue under the carpet. For an individual to host a party at a time when many others were denied access to their source of daily bread, yet remain escape the scrutiny of the law, calls into question the integrity of people in power.

 

For the sake of rule of law, the case should be tried at a court of competent jurisdiction while the law should be allowed to take its due course.

This post was written by Nwolu Obiajulu.

The views expressed here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect our views and opinions.

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