• Wed. Oct 4th, 2023

    Seun Kuti, The Police, And The Nigerian People — Samson Ajibade

    ByHybrid Communications

    Aug 20, 2023

    The actions of Seun Anikulapo Kuti are certainly deserving of condemnation, but the determination of right and wrong in this case should ultimately be left to the jurisdiction of a court of law.

    While the general consensus asserts that assaulting a police officer has no justification, a question arises: What if a person is being physically harassed by a police officer?

    Should they simply endure it in the hope that the legal system will rectify the situation? This line of thought prompts us to remember tragic incidents like the death of George Floyd, who lost his life due to excessive force.

    Consider instances such as Tiamiyu, the Remo Star Football Club player, or the husband of Bolanle Raheem, a lawyer killed by ASP Drambi Vandi, an officer from Ajiwe Police Station.

    What if they had chosen to defend themselves against unwarranted aggression? The assertion here is that when one’s life is imperiled, there may indeed be grounds for retaliatory action. People can only endure so much before they feel compelled to resist.

    The media fervently covered the news of Seun’s altercation with a police officer, generating a flurry of opinions and counter-opinions. However, it is worth noting that Seun alleged that the police officer intended to harm him and his family during the incident that occurred on the Third Mainland Bridge.

    What if the circumstances had taken a more tragic turn, causing the vehicle to veer into the lagoon? If no camera were present to document the situation, how would the police respond? We could predict the usual bureaucratic statements:

    We’re working diligently on the case.
    Those responsible will be held accountable.

    We will leave no stone unturned in our investigation.

    These statements often lack substance and merely serve to maintain appearances. Two Fundamental Principles of Natural Justice:

    Audi alteram partem: No one should be judged without being heard.

    Nemo judex in causa sua: No one should be a judge in their own case.

    While it is reasonable for the police to denounce Seun’s actions, it is crucial for the revered institution to approach the matter impartially and diligently. Adhering to the principle of “nemo judex in causa sua,” it is not appropriate for the police to oversee the prosecution. Such a scenario would place the police in the role of both prosecutor and judge, undermining the principle of fairness.

    So, who should prosecute the case? The responsibility should fall to the Attorney General of the state to ensure a fair process. Currently, the police handle investigations, appoint an Investigating Police Officer, and then present the case in court using a prosecutor who is often a police officer. This arrangement lacks independence, and the police’s vested interest in the outcome could potentially prejudice the proceedings. Therefore, transferring the case to the Attorney General would promote impartiality.

    The police repeatedly claim that an individual is “allegedly” involved in a crime, even when there is clear video evidence. This practice aligns with the adversarial system of criminal justice that presumes innocence until proven guilty in court. It’s important to emphasize that the police are not a judicial body; their role is not to mete out punishment.

    Considering the historical context: Reflecting on the death of Seun’s grandmother, Madam Olufunmilayo Ransome Kuti, who tragically lost her life in 1977, prompts us to consider the injustices faced by his family. The mistreatment and tragedy suffered by his uncle, Dr. Beko Ransome Kuti, further highlight the need for accountability and justice. The question arises: Would anyone stand idly by if subjected to similar circumstances? Such experiences breed skepticism and mistrust in the police.

    Concluding thoughts: The call for surveillance on critical infrastructure, such as the Third Mainland Bridge, is a critical one. Having cameras in place would provide transparency and clarity in situations like the altercation involving Seun Kuti. An incident involving Mrs. Zainab Abiola, who ordered her domestic staff to assault her orderly, underscores the need for comprehensive police training that balances assertiveness with professionalism.

    While it is essential for police officers to defend themselves, overreliance on firearms should be minimized to prevent unnecessary escalations.

    In closing, justice must be pursued for all parties involved. Addressing lawlessness with further lawlessness is counterproductive. The legal process should be allowed to unfold, following the principles of fairness and adherence to the rule of law.

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