Femi Falana Tells Lagos Judge How Fela Kuti Was Charged For Offence In Same Magistrate Court, With His Son, Seun In Attendance In 1993
There was an emotional moment at the Yaba Magistrate’s Court during proceedings in the trial of Afrobeat musician, Seun Kuti over the alleged assault of a policeman.
Femi Falana SAN told Chief Magistrate Adeola Olatunbosun that he felt a sense of de javu because in 1993, Seun Kuti accompanied his father, the late Afrobeat musician Fela Anikulapo-Kuti to stand trial when the same court was presided over by Chief Magistrate Kelani.
He described the experience in an emotionally laden voice as he recalled the persecution and hostility the Kuti family had faced from Nigerian authorities.
Falana was responding to the Chief Magistrate after she agreed with him that her order stating that the police must seek the advice of the Directorate of Public Prosecutions must stand.
Chief Magistrate Olatunbosun also revealed to Falana that she had unilaterally changed the status of Seun Kuti’s sureties, insisting her family members are the only ones qualified to bail him.
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Falana told her that he knew of the development and stated that when Fela was arraigned and remanded by the Chief Magistrate, he and other lawyers headed to a High Court where one Justice Aka, granted Fela bail on liberal terms.
According to the lawyer, the Chief Magistrate stated that any of his brothers or Femi Falana himself was qualified to stand as surety.
Falana, however, added that he (as a lawyer ceded the privilege to one of Fela’s brothers).
Seun’s father, legendary musician, Fela Kuti, was the son of Nigerian women’s rights activist Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti.
He was an outspoken critic of the government and this got him into trouble with military regimes several times, earning him the title of the most persecuted musician in the history of Nigeria.
He was reportedly arrested on more than 200 different occasions and spent time in jail, including his longest stint of 20 months in 1984 following an arrest.
The government also sent soldiers to beat Kuti, his family and friends, and destroy his home and instruments in 1977. During the raid, Kuti was severely beaten, and his elderly mother (the first woman to drive a car in Nigeria) was fatally injured after being thrown from a window.
Fela Kuti died on August 2, 1997, at the age of 58.