Seun Kuti’s lawyer accuses police of engaging in media trial

Lawyer to embattled Seun Kuti, Adeyinka Olumide-Fusika, SAN, has accused the police lawyer, Mr Simon Lough, SAN, of engaging in media trial, while turning around to advice defence counsel to desist from engaging in media defence in Seun’s case.

Seun is being prosecuted for assaulting a police office.

A Yaba Magistrate Court, Lagos, had on Tuesday, ordered Seun to be remanded in police custody for 48 hours, following his arraignment for assaulting a police officer.

The Yaba Magistrate Court, meanwhile admitted Seun to bail in the sun of N1million, and two sureties, to take effect after the 48 hours granted the police to hold on to him for further investigation.

But on Thursday, the police took Seun back to court and secured an additional four days to detain him.

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It is rumoured, however, that the latest police move is aimed at frustrating Seun’s overseas engagement.

Meanwhile, police counsel, Mr. Simon Lough, SAN, on Thursday, cautioned defense counsel through a tweet to avoid engaging in media defence.

But Seun’s counsel, Olumide-Fusika, SAN, in his response, said: “My attention has been drawn to a tweeted public statement ascribed to you, which, inter alia, “appeals to the defence team of Mr. Seun Kuti to desist from engaging in media trial/defence of their client and allow the judicial process take its course.
“You are of course aware of the names and identity of those to whom your advice was directed. That being the case, you should have honoured your own advice against “media trial/defence” by reaching out to them otherwise than through a tweet to the whole world. Your predilection is, however, understandable and forgiven considering that you are first and foremost a Deputy Commissioner of Police and therefore, bound to obey the last order of your superiors in the Nigeria Police Force.
“Otherwise, as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, the unethical implication of your exertion and conduct in court today would not have been lost on you. To your knowledge, the bail granted to Mr. Kuti at the court session of Tuesday 16/5/2023, was not on the application of the Police or its legal team.

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“It was on the oral application and at the instance of Mr. Kuti’s legal team, having chanced upon the ex-parte attempt of the Police to keep Mr. Kuti under Police detention for 21 more days as from said 16/5/2023.

“It should, therefore, have occurred to you that any application to vary the bail terms, including the term that his release on bail shall be effective after 48 hours from that date (which was what you went to court today to make and obtain) cannot be ex parte but on notice to Mr. Kuti’s Defence team.

“In your elevated position as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, you ought not to be caught in any scheme having the potential of making a mockery of the rule of law and exposing the court administration of justice to ridicule. Mr . Kuti will say no more on this for now.
“You have informed the public in your statement that “section 10(4) of Administration of Criminal Justice Law of Lagos State allows the taking of photographs of suspects arrested for identification and record purpose.’

“However, apart from the fact that it was Mr. Kuti that voluntarily took and submitted himself at your Lagos State Command, Ikeja on 15/5/2023, you omitted to also direct the public addresses of your statement the Section of the law you cited that authorised or permitted the Police (through Mr. Hundeyin, its Lagos PPRO, who personally took the photographs) to circulate it to the media and the public at large.

“Or, are you by any chance denying that this was not what happened? Are you saying that it was Mr. Kuti (and or his legal team) that took his photographs in police handcuffs and sent it to media houses and the public at large? As it is obvious that you either do not know or is pretending not to know, in September 2021, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the Governor of Lagos, signed the Administration of Criminal Justice (Amendment) Bill, 2021 bill into law.
“Section 9(a) of the law states: “As from the commencement of this law, the police shall refrain from parading any suspect before the media.
“Furthermore, according to you, the need for handcuffs was because Mr. Kuti “has shown the tendency of violence … by attacking and slapping a Police Officer in uniform and even threatened his wife in the process.

“Mrs. Kuti has instructed that you should be informed that she has never made any complaint to you as insinuated in your statement. I am also sure that the Police Commissioner to whom Mr. Kuti reported and submitted himself did not inform you that he suffered any violence or threat of violence from Mr. Kuti. Mr. Kuti submitted himself to the Police so that he can go answer in court for the allegation of assaulting a policeman.

“It is the Police who, rather than taking this simple and straightforward step, has decided to create a circus and make a “national emergency” of the matter. Your sweeping insinuation against Mr. Kuti (which only a witness in court is entitled to testify to), using your title of Senior Advocate of Nigeria, belittles that Rank.
“Well, now that Mr. Kuti has been put in manacles and taken on parade from one police station to another, and from one location to the other across Lagos State since 15/5/2023, when exactly is he going to be charged for, as you put it in your statement, “attacking and slapping a police officer in uniform?’

“Mr. Seun Kuti is patiently waiting to be charged to court for the alleged offence, so that he can offer his defence. That should not be too much for a suspect to expect. I do hope that you will use your position as a lawyer, and indeed a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, counseling the Police in this matter, to obey the order of the Magistrate Court to send the case file to the Lagos State Director of Public Prosecution for legal evaluation and possible charge and prosecution before a court of law.
“ As you can see from this very example, the “defence team of Seun Kuti” has never engaged in “media trial/defence” of its client. Rather, the team only makes cautioning responses to statements and briefings from the Police to the public against Mr. Kuti (at a time he is in police detention and unable to speak by his own mouth to the public),” he added.

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