It is no longer news that Nollywood Superstar, Funke Akindele and her husband, Mr. AbdulRasheed Bello popularly known as JJC Skillz, were arraigned at the Samuel Ilori Courthouse of the Magistrate Court in Ogba, Lagos, further to which they each pleaded guilty to a one-count charge of hosting a gathering of over 20 persons, contrary to the Regulation 8(1) (a & b) and S 17(1) of the State’s Infectious Disease Regulation 2020, following the arrest over a house party celebrated by the duo.
It is also now common knowledge that the actress and her husband were both found guilty and accordingly sentenced to 14 days Community Service in addition to paying the sum of One Hundred Thousand Naira (N100,000) each under Section 58 of the Public Health Law of Lagos State, 2015.
It is noteworthy to commend the effort of the Lagos State government as a whole; the legislators that rose to the challenge by creating an emergency law, the executive for the political will and necessary support and the judicial for making herself available for the interpretation of the Laws. This I must say is highly commendable. We must also acknowledge that the punitive sanctions meted out on the celebrated duo is commendable, especially against the need to ensure sanctity of adherence to public health safety standards in the spirit of the times and to equally drive the point home that NOBODY IS ABOVE THE LAW IRRESPECTIVE OF YOUR STATUS OR POSITION.
However, I have a few observations on the method adopted in the process which leaves so much to be desired.
Firstly, it is sad that laws are rather observed in breach than in compliance by both the suspects and the enforcers of the law in our clime. As it can be clearly observed from the pre-arraignment scenery outside the Court and the arraignment proper in the Courtroom saw a good number of people well of 50 persons ranging from prosecutors, pressmen, spectators and other onlookers crowding the prosecutorial atmosphere, thereby making nonsense of the Regulation and Public Health Law sought to be enforced by the State.
This is a clear breach of all known social distancing rules. The said law sought to be enforced was brazenly flouted even in the process of enforcement and all health safety standards ignored with reckless abandon by the aforementioned crowd that thronged the premises. So much so one would only conclude that the whole prosecutorial apparatchik in the ensuing prosecution could have been more obsessed and/or lost in the publicity, frenzy and showmanship that the whole prosecutorial process had generated.
This untoward incidence would readily agitate the minds of every reasonable man to question the sincerity of purpose of the custodians & enforcers of law in our country; one would be further compelled to ask if we could ever demonstrate seriousness in our economic, legal, political and socio-political life.
The cumulative effect of these health safety breaches as much as transgressions of other laws of our country by both the enforcers of our laws and suspects results in retrogressive and regressive slide of our polity, so that in a bid to correct an ill in the society you’re creating a much more terrible one.
The whole spectre of the prosecution of the Bellos should serve as microcosmic dynamic with which we all should view our society including our common fold and immediate constituency – The NBA, which needs to rise up to the challenge as the conscience of the nation and the “go to one stop shop” for all legal issues to champion the campaign for total adherence to our laws as expected in an ideal society and to be an active participant in the ethics that define us as higher homo sapiens towards the realization of our common goals.
Prince Adebiyi Adetosoye is an Abuja based Legal Practitioner and the Principal of Adetosoye and Co.