The Lagos State Government, on Wednesday, agreed to withdraw the charges against musician Azeez Fashola, alias Naira Marley, and the candidate of the Action Democratic Party in the 2019 gubernatorial election in the state, Babatunde Gbadamosi, and his wife, Folashade.
Naira Marley and the Gbadamosis were charged before the Lagos State Magistrates’ Court in Ogba for attending a crowded birthday party in violation of the lockdown and social distancing directives of the government to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
The birthday party, which the three defendants attended on April 4, 2020, on Gbadamosi Close, Amen Estate, Ibeju Lekki, was organised by a popular actress, Funke Akindele-Bello, aka Jenifa, in honour of her musician husband, Abdul Rasheed Bello, alias JJC Skillz.
The celebrity couple were arraigned on Monday by the state and pleaded guilty to the charge preferred against them.
They were convicted and sentenced to 14 days of community service, with an order that they should each pay N100,000 fine and be kept in for isolation for 14 days by the state.
The court also ordered the couple to submit the names of everyone, who attended the party, and the state government vowed to prosecute all of them.
Naira Marley and the Gbadamosis, who had on Monday submitted themselves to the police, were billed to be arraigned on four counts before Chief Magistrate Aje Afunwa, on Wednesday.
They appeared in court with their lawyers, Mr Wale Akoni (SAN), for Babatunde; Mr Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa (SAN), for Folashade; and Mr Afeez Olabisi, for Naira Marley, but the state Director of Public Prosecutions, Mr Yaqub Oshoala, told the magistrate that shortly before the court sitting, he received a directive from the state’s Attorney General, Mr Moyosore Onigbanjo (SAN), that the state had noted the remorse shown by the defendants and had decided to withdraw the charges against them on three conditions.
Arms-bearing policemen, who said they were acting on an order from above, prevented journalists from entering the court premises to cover the proceedings.
At the end of the court proceedings, Adegboruwa briefed journalists on what transpired in the courtroom. His account was corroborated by Naira Marley’s lawyer, Olabisi.
According to the defence counsel, the three conditions given by the state to drop the charges against the defendants were that they would tender a written apology to the Lagos State Government to formalise their remorsefulness; they would give a written undertaking to the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), and the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, that they would henceforth comply with the government’s stay-at-home and social distancing directives; and that they would go into 14-day self isolation, having attended a crowded birthday party.
The DPP said the state was not a persecutor and would withdraw the charges if the defendants agree to the conditions.
Responding, Akoni said his client was fine with the conditions and thanked the state for electing to withdraw the charges.
Similarly, Olabisi said Naira Marley accepted the conditions as he was a law-abiding citizen.
In the same vein, Adegboruwa accepted the conditions on behalf of Folashade,
The magistrate gave the defendants 24 hours to comply with the conditions and adjourned till today (Thursday) for report and formal withdrawal of the charges.
A horde of Naira Marley’s fans, popularly called the Marlians, were on hand outside the court premises to cheer him.
Source: The Punch