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Seun Kuti: ‘Big men’ must respect ‘small men’

Last week, there was outrage among many Nigerians following the release of a rather uncomplimentary video online in which Seun Kuti, the son of late…

Last week, there was outrage among many Nigerians following the release of a rather uncomplimentary video online in which Seun Kuti, the son of late musician, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, was seen verbally and physically attacking a policeman. In the video, Seun slapped the policeman on the Third Mainland Bridge. Shortly after the video went viral, another video surfaced, where instead of showing remorse, the youngest child of the late afro beat singer, was heard saying, the policeman attempted to kill him and his family.

Kuti said, “He tried to kill me and my family. I have the proof but I no dey chase clout. He has apologized and I have agreed not to press charges. Make una mind una business make the poor guy no lose him job.”

Following the incident, the Inspector General of Police, Usman Baba, ordered the arrest of Seun Kuti.

The order was given by the IGP through a statement issued by the Force Public Relations Officer, Olumuyiwa Adejobi.

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The statement read thus, “The Inspector-General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba, has ordered the Commissioner of Police, Lagos State Command, to arrest afrobeat singer, Seun Kuti, who was captured on video assaulting a police officer in uniform.

 “The IG has equally ordered a speedy and full investigation into the remote and immediate cause(s) of the assault and prosecution of the suspect accordingly.”

We condemn in very strong terms the attack on a policeman by the afrobeat singer. Nothing justifies an attack on security personnel, especially one who was in uniform and carrying out his duties. If in the process of executing his duties, he fell short of Seun’s expectations, there are ways of reproach but physical assault is not one of them. Seun could have reported the cop to his superiors and ensured that he was punished for whatever wrong he may have committed.

It is rather unfortunate that such an act is coming from a man from an illustrious family such as the Kutis, where some members, despite their activism in the 70s and 80s and numerous arrests, were never said to have physically attacked a policeman or any other security personnel. Seun is supposed to carry on that legacy, not tarnish the very name that made him the celebrity that he is today. 

It must be stated that no Nigerian has the right to take the law into his/her hands no matter the level of provocation. We have followed public debates on the alleged brutality of police personnel and we agree that there are such cases, but that does not in any way justify an attack on a policeman.

Every security personnel, police, army or of any other outfit, must be accorded respect due to that uniform and office. It must be made clear that Nigeria will be in trouble if members of the public begin to get into altercations with security personnel, as not only will that affect delivery by the personnel, it amounts to serious danger on the part of the civil population, who on most occasions are not armed.

It is on that note that we commend the policeman involved for comporting himself appropriately even in the face of provocation. Had it been he decided to react in like manner, considering that he was armed, the matter could have degenerated. We call on all security personnel to emulate him and always keep their cool when in such a situation and follow the right channels in seeking justice.

That said, the manner in which the police handled the singer after he turned himself in, leaves much to be desired on how the police still carry out their duties years after independence. Since the singer was already with the police, there was very little likelihood he would run away, therefore, there was no need for the handcuffs. Such an act is a relic of colonialism that we ought to have discarded a long time ago.

We urge the police to treat citizens appropriately, even for those who have committed crime; we believe there are laid down procedures for handling them. Their rights must not be violated in the course of investigation and prosecution. It is true that Seun committed a crime, but the police have to show that they are above board by following laid down procedures.

We urge that the matter be thoroughly investigated and expeditiously handled. It should not be a media trial. The suspect should be given a fair hearing and if found guilty, punishment should be meted out to serve as a deterrent to anyone who may want to do such in future.

This should also serve as a warning to all celebrities or people in positions of authority. They must understand that the police and other security personnel are carrying out their duties as backed by the constitution and must be accorded respect. If at any time the personnel falls short, appropriate channels must be followed in dealing with the matter. Also, with the status of a celebrity comes additional responsibility to live above board, as several Nigerians look up to them as role models, so they should be mindful of what they do.

There must be a cordial relationship between citizens and security personnel as a way to have a functional society.


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