A Mobile Court of the Federal Capital Territory FCT sitting at the Eagle Square in Abuja has convicted an artiste, Azeez Fashola, aka Naira Marley, for violating provisions of the COVID-19 Regulations, 2020.
The regulations were made by a Presidential Order pursuant to Section 4 of the Quarantine Act, Cap. 02, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004. Naira Marley who was arraigned before Magistrate Idayat Akanni however pleaded guilty to the four-count charge filed against him. Magistrate Akanni consequently found him guilty and ordered him to pay the sum of ₦50, 000 for each of the count as well as tender a public apology to the Federal Government of Nigeria in a national daily.
The charges brought against Marley were; violating Presidential ban on interstate travelling, not wearing a face mask contrary to the Presidential Order imposing compulsory wearing of face mask on all persons within Abuja the Federal Capital Territory, violating social distance order as well as violating the dusk to dawn curfew in the territory. Saturday Vanguard recalls that Marley and his crew had on June 13, flew into Abuja from Lagos State to perform at a drive-in concert at the Jabi Lake Mall.
Reacting to the judgment, the defender’s lawyer, Mohammad Yunusa, said going forward, “we will be very detailed and also confirm the information given to our client by people who book him. Like in this instance, we were given the assurance that all the approvals from the government had been procured for him to be in Abuja and at the concert. It was on the strength of the representation that he came to Abuja to perform.” He further said that having gone through the trial, Naira Marley will henceforth be more vocal in the advocacy for the adherence to the COVID-19 safety guidelines by all.
The Prosecutor, Chief State Counsel Udeme Umanah, said though the offenses have a minimum fine of N2,000 but that the court has its own jurisdiction to impose a N50,000 fine per count since he (Naira Marley) has admitted liability.
Chairman, FCT Ministerial Enforcement Task team on COVID-19 Restrictions, Ikharo Attah, said; “I think for those of us in the Federal Capital Territory Administration FCTA and those of us in the COVID-19 team, this has been a very long struggle.
The artiste himself today pleaded guilty that he broke the law and the Magistrate in her mercy was kind to fine him N50,000 on each of the four-count charges. “We are telling people that they should learn to obey the law and do what is right.
Regardless of who you think you are, you are subject to the law and even if you run far and think the time has overtaken the process of justice, that is not true.
You can see that after like two months now, he has been brought to face the law. We thank the security agencies, particularly the Nigerian Police for actually picking him up and flying him into Abuja for this prosecution.”