Nigerians being assaulted by police officers is nothing new; it’s as normal as spending four hours in Lagos traffic on a Friday evening.  So, on May 13, 2023, when the video of Seun Kuti, son of the Afrobeat legend Fela Anikulapo Kuti,  surfaced online of him assaulting an officer on Lagos’ Third Mainland Bridge, it definitely caught the attention of many and spawned many questions. 

What exactly happened?

While the exact reason behind what started the issue in the first place is still unknown, the video showed Seun yelling repeatedly, manhandling, and eventually slapping the officer’s face. 

In his defence, Seun claims he was “assaulted” first, and the officer tried to kill him and his family members, although the video shows otherwise. He says that he has enough evidence to back this up and had the initial intention of placing charges against the officer for assault. 

However, the Inspector General of Police, IGP Usman Alkali Baba, in a statement the next day on May 14, 2023, ordered the arrest of Seun Kuti and a full investigation into the causes of the assault shown in the video

We’ve seen this before

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen celebrities assault police officers. In 2014, when flagged down for violating a traffic law, Tiwa Savage decided she wanted all the smoke and proceeded to insult the police officers who stopped her. She didn’t stop there; she also removed and flung away the cap of one of the officers.  

In 2018, Small Doctor was also arrested and prosecuted for threatening to open fire on an officer. And more recently, in 2022, Ice Prince was arrested for allegedly abducting, assaulting, and threatening to throw the police officer who stopped him for driving a car without a plate number at 3 a.m. into a river.

There are penalties for these kinds of offenses, as Nigeria is a country with laws. 

What does the Law say?

According to Section 356(2) of the Criminal Code Act, assaulting, resisting, or willfully obstructing a police officer while acting in the execution of his duty, or any person acting in aid of a police officer, is considered a felony and can earn you three years in prison. 

Section 98 of the Police Act 2020-98 also states that “A person who assaults, obstructs, or resists a police officer in the discharge of his duty, or aids or incites any other person to assault, obstruct or resist a police officer or other person aiding or assisting the police officer in the discharge of his duty, commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine of ₦500,000 or imprisonment for a term of six months or both.”

Reactions so far

It is unusual for Nigerians to sympathise with members of the police force, and we’ve seen no lost love in this case. 

Popular Nigerian singer Peter Okoye pleaded with the Nigerian police to temper justice with mercy. 

Today, Seun Kuti was arrested and is currently being detained at the State Criminal Investigation Department in Lagos. Many Nigerians anticipate what penalty or punishment follows.

No one knows for sure how this case will turn out, but given the history of police assaults by celebrities, we hope it doesn’t get swept under the rug. 



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