Fred Itua, Abuja
A Federal Capital Terri- tory (FCT) Mobile Court sitting in Abuja, has sentenced a musician, Azeez Fashola, often referred to as Naira Marley, for violating COVID-19 regulation, made by Presidential Order pursuant to Section 4 of the Quarantine Act, Cap. 02, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
Naira Marley pleaded guilty to the four-count charge brought against him by the prosecution team. Reading the four count charges, Magistrate Idayat Akanni, ordered Naira Marley to pay N50, 000 for each of the counts as well as publish a public apology to the Federal Government in a National Daily.
The four count charges include; violating presidential ban on interstate travelling, not wearing of face mask contrary to the Presidential Order imposing compulsory wearing of face mask by all persons within the Federal Capital Territory, violating social distance order as well as violating dusk to dawn curfew in the territory.
On Saturday, June 13, Naira Marley and his crew flew from Lagos State to Abuja to perform at a concert organised at Jabi Lake Mall.
Reacting to the judgment, the defender’s lawyer, Mohammad Yunusa, said that moving forward, “we will be very detailed and also confirm information given to our clients by people who book him. Like in this instance, we were given the assur- ance 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 focal in the advocacy for the adherence to the COVID-19 safety guidelines by all.
The prosecutor, Udeme Umanah, explained that the offences have a minimum fine of N2,000and then the court has its own discretion to impose a N50,000 fine per count since he (Naira Marley) had admitted liability.
On his part, the Chairman, FCT Ministerial Task team on COVID-19, Attah Ikharo, 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 artist himself today (Friday) pleaded guilty that he broke the law and the Judge in her mercy was kind to give him N50,000 per each of the four counts charge.
“We are telling people that they should learn to obey the law and do what is right. Regardless of what you think you are, you are subject to law and even if you run far and think 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.”