By Benjamin Omoike
The Lagos State Government on Wednesday, withdrew charges against Nigeria’s music prodigy, Abdulazeez Fashola, otherwise known as Naira Marley; actress Funke Akindele Bello, and her husband, AbdulRasheed Bello, a.k.a JJC Skillz.
Naira Marley was produced in court on Wednesday for arraignment but Attorney General & Commissioner for Justice, Moyo Onigbanjo, SAN, filled motion to withdraw the case against Naira Marley, Funke Akindele and her husband, AbdulRasheed Bello, whom have already been sentenced to 14 days community service.
The court has, however, adjourned till tomorrow, Thursday, April 9, 2020, for report on complying with the terms of settlement.
The matter started at exactly 11 am.
Naira Marley dressed in white shirt and black Jeans was called into the dock, while Babatunde Gbadamosi dressed in brown native followed and third defendant, his wife, Folasade was dressed in blue top on black Jeans.
All three defendants put on face masks when they arrived the court.
The Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Lagos, Yakub Oshoala led the Prosecution alongside Dr. Babajide Martins a director in the office of the DPP, Adetutu Osinusi, a Deputy Director in the office of the DPP, Jonathan Ogunsanya & Afolabi Solebo who are both Assistant Directors in the office of the DPP.
For the defence team, Olawale Akoni SAN alongside Dr Bayo Adaralegbe represented the 2nd defendant, Babatunde Gbadamosi, while Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, SAN, alongside O. Awonuga, represented the 3rd defendant, Folasade Gbadamosi, while Naira Marley was represented by Damilola Ayinde-Marshall, alongside Afeez Olabisi.
After announcement of appearance, the DPP told the court that even though the state had filed a charge before the court, a few minutes before the court sat, the Attorney General & Commissioner for Justice, Moyo Onigbanjo, SAN, forewarded a directive to him, that having considered the remorsefulness of the three defendants, the Attorney General had considered diverting the case out of court based on the defendants fulfilling three conditions.
(1) They have to write a formal apology to the Government of Lagos State, which will solidify the remorsefulness shown by them.
(2) They have to give an undertaking in writing that they will continue to comply with the directives of Mr President and Mr Governor, which is the subject matter of the case before the court.
(3) In view of the danger which the state believes they’ve put themselves by attending a gathering exceeding 20 persons, they must agree to go on 14 days isolation to protect other members of the public from any likely danger.
Mr Oshoala also submitted that this is absolutely necessary, “in view of the fact that some individuals who travelled from endangered countries where present at the party. He stressed that the state is not a persecutor but it is always ready to enforce the laws in the interest of the public.
“If they agree to this conditions, the four-count charge will be withdrawn and that will be the end of the matter. We will keep it in abeyance. That’s our submission.”
Replying, Akoni said, “On behalf of the 2nd defendant, we wish to express our appreciation to the state, the DPP and to confirm to the court that we accept the three conditions, while Adegboruwa expressed appreciation in behalf of the third defendant.
“We express our appreciation to his excellency, Mr President and the Governor, the AG, The DPP & his team, the Police and most of all the court. The third defendant is a law abiding citizen and accepts all that three conditions as stipulated by the DPP,” he said.
On his part, Ayinde-Marshall said, on behalf of the first defendanct, we say a big thank you to the police, the President, Mr Gov and the DPP. My client is a law abiding citizen too and a strict supporter of government policies. We undertake that we will fulfill the three conditions given to them,” he assured.
In replying to them, the DPP told the court that having agreed to this conditions and having already dealt with the principal defendants, Funke Akindele and her husband, we hereby withdraw the charge before the court.
“However for the purpose of clarity, I request the defendant to put their phones number out so that the personnel from the Ministry of Health can get in touch with them, having agreed to go into self isolation. Also within today and tomorrow morning latest, the undertakings must reach the AG through their lawyers and the OC Legal to show their sincerity. We are grateful to the court,” the DPP said.
Ruling on the matter, Magistrate Aje-Afunwa said, “this honourable court has listened to the request of the learned DPP indicating that the state requests to withdraw the charge on the condition that they fulfill all the conditions as stipulated by the prosecution.
“Since the defendants have all agreed to comply with the conditions, I wish to state that the procedure for the withdrawal of a criminal charge is that before the charge is withdrawn, the conditions must be met or be seen to be met.
“In the circumstances of this case, the court will adjourn to enable the defence put its house in order and the prosecution will address the court on how the defendants have complied. If all the parties agree, the court will adjourn till tomorrow.”
All the parties did not object.
“Since it was agreed on 24 hours for compliance with the conditions, the court believes 12noon tomorrow is appropriate for withdrawal of the charge. Case is adjourned to 9th April at 12noon for withdrawal or for taking of plea if conditions fail to be complied with.
“In line with the regulations of the government, we all must continue to ensure that the regulations are strictly complied with in our homes and in all public places,” the Magistrate ruled.