By Kazeem Akintunde
Seun Anikulapo Kuti, son of the late Fela Anikulapo Kuti, has been in the news lately for the wrong reason. The 40-year-old musician was seen in a viral video last week engaging in a hot argument with a policeman on Third Mainland Bridge. Within the twinkle of an eye, Seun landed the policeman a dirty slap on his cheek. Seun forgot, or was not aware that citizen journalism has come to stay in Nigeria. With just a phone, anyone could record for posterity, what is happening in their domain. That incident was captured with a phone camera. The stunned officer was in a state of shock as he could only open his mouth and even words failed him at that point in time.
What led to the exchange, we were later told, was a minor traffic infraction between the duo. Seun felt threatened that the officer, at that particular time, constituted a threat to his life and those of his family, who were with him at the time of the incident. Some motorists reportedly later pacified Seun, and pleaded with the officer to let the matter rest.
But the video of the encounter soon went viral on social media. Many Nigerians were stupefied that Seun could actually slap a police officer in uniform. The anger of most Nigerians forced the Inspector General of Police to order the arrest of Seun Kuti. Gingered by the arrest order from Abuja, the police in Lagos went on an overdrive and stormed Seun’s residence in a commando-like manner.
Sensing that the tide was quickly turning against him, Seun ran to Femi Falana, Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), to brief him before going underground, at least briefly. By the time the arrest party got to his house, he was nowhere to be found. But his lawyer advised him to give himself up, which he eventually did by reporting to the office of the Commissioner of Police the following day in company of his lawyer, where he was arrested, handcuffed, his mug shot taken, and later paraded alongside other criminals by the police.
He was later arraigned before a Magistrate, where the police sought a 21-day remand order against him but at the end of the proceeding, the court gave the police 48 hours to hold on to Kuti to enable them to conclude their investigations after which the musician must be granted bail. However, the Police, known for their various antics, sought for further extension from the same court without the knowledge of Seun’s lawyer, and now have Seun for another four days.
Seun, by his action, played into the hands of the police and he is now being tossed up and down. He did not manage his anger well. His late father would not have slapped a police officer in such a circumstance. Abami Eda would have used his music to tear the officer into ‘pieces’. Fela would have come up with an LP to denounce the incident on the Third Mainland Bridge and yab the police to high heavens.
Seun was still a toddler when Fela had his own encounter with the men in uniform. He never fought back but went ahead to record several songs to lambast the institution and others in positions of authority who were using their influence daily to oppress the poor masses. Seun Kuti must have heard of his grandmother, the late Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, who on February 18, 1977, had her own encounter with the men of the law.
On that day, men of the Nigerian Army, numbering well over 100, stormed her residence in Lagos on a raid. During the raid, Kuti’s 76-year-old mother was thrown from the window of a two-storey building. She sustained injuries from which she never recovered, and died at the General Hospital in Lagos, on April 13, 1978. Funmilayo was not just Fela’s mum, the anti-colonial activist and feminist was, in many ways, the mother of the nation.
At her prime and during the colonial era, Ransome-Kuti riled against what she said were unfair taxes levied on small traders – many of whom were women, whom she led in colourful campaigns.
Was Seun Kuti, by his action, trying to exact revenge for the atrocities committed against his grandmother and his father? Even his uncle, Beko Ransome-Kuti also got a dose of police brutality while he was alive. Yet it did not prevent one of the Kutis from serving in the Nigerian government during the military regime.
Specifically, Olikoye Ransome-Kuti served the Ibrahim Babangida regime as Minister of Health. His service to the regime and the government should have atoned and watered down the face-off between the Kutis and the government. Shouldn’t it?
But Seun, by his latest action, played into the hands of the police. Now, they are bent on exacting maximum humiliation on the musician. Because he could not manage his anger, he has been humiliated and made to look like a common felon. Seun voluntarily reported himself at the police headquarters and there was no reason for him to be handcuffed like a common criminal. He was also paraded before the police officers and the media while his house has been raided by the police who are looking for ‘evidence’ on more than one occasion. His wife’s phone was also taken from her for trying to record the search. The police actions handcuffing and parading Seun among criminals is unwarranted and illegal, going by the provision of Section 7 of the Administration of the Criminal Justice Act (2015) of the country’s constitution which says that suspects can only be handcuffed or subjected to any form of restraint under three circumstances. These include when: “(a) there is a reasonable apprehension of violence or an attempt to escape. “(b) the restraint is considered necessary for the safety of the suspect or defendant, or “(c) by order of a court.” None of these situations existed in this case, yet the police flouted these fundamentals in the arrest of Seun. They also ran afoul of S. 34, Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999, as amended), which guarantees the rights of citizens to personal dignity.
Again, he was taken to his house a second time for another round of search, where yet, nothing incriminating was found on him. Perhaps, they will present their latest findings before the court when the case resumes today. Now, the police may even say that they need to take his blood samples for a test to know whether it is tainted with drugs! Nigerians should not be surprised if they ask that he should be taken to Aro in Abeokuta, Ogun State, or the Psychiatrist Hospital in Yaba for an evaluation of his mental faculty. We can all attest to the character of the Nigeria Police in these matters.
When Seun Kuti slapped the police officer, whom the Force alleged went into a state of coma, public opinion was on the side of the police. At that particular time, the policeman was an officer of the law, the face of the State that must be accorded due respect. And that was why many Nigerians condemned what Seun did. But now, the way the police authorities are going about their bid to humiliate Seun is gradually turning the tide in favour of the musician.
Again, public opinion of the Nigerian Police has never been one that is complimentary. It is a no-love relationship that has existed between the police and Nigerians, generally. Why are the police hell-bent on extracting maximum humiliation on Seun over a slap when it is in record that thousands of Nigerians have been wrongly treated and accused by the Police? Or have we quickly forgotten that a similar scenario led to the #EndSars protests?
Has any criminal case been filed against the three police officers that beat an Okada rider to a stupor in the Abule Egba area of Lagos State a few days after the Seun incident? Except for the Lagos Commissioner of Police that visited the victim and appealed to the Hausa Community in Lagos, it is certain that the three policemen are back to duty after a few hours in detention. ‘The police is your friend’ mantra on radio and television has never swayed Nigerians. Nigerians know those that truly love them.
It is my fervent hope that Seun will come of his self-induced crisis soon and learn a big lesson from it. Never take the laws into your hands, no matter who you are. We should all learn to manage our anger. Femi Kuti, his elder brother had to stand in for him at the weekend in one of his scheduled European tours. Kudos to big brother Femi.
I am not an expert in anger management, but with extensive research on the subject, a brilliant article by one who can speak authoritatively, Mary Desroches, caught my attention. Part of the article is reproduced below for the benefit of Seun and others in his shoes who are prone to getting angry at the drop of a hat. Hope readers find it useful.
It is your prerogative to feel angry, but what is more important is what you use it for or do with it. Perhaps, you have heard one of Mark Twain’s sayings, where he compared anger to an acid, which implies that anger can be more harmful to you than whatever it is you feel angry towards.
Most people often have a misconception but anger and anger management. Learning to control your anger doesn’t mean doing away with the anger or never getting angry again. Our lives are full of ups and downs, crest and trough, and at times, it is normal and healthy to feel anger.
Therefore, as an adult, you must understand the signs of anger. Also, you must learn strategies to help ensure your reactions are productive and positive no matter how angry you are.
Certain events trigger our anger response, it’s never the same with everyone. Sometimes it may be a memory or an event. Our bodies and brains, naturally, get angry whenever they feel threatened. At this point, we are in control of what we do with anger – aggression, sarcasm, irritability, and grumpiness. Imagine having all these negativities in you over a long time, it eventually weighs you down.
With that in mind, it becomes necessary to learn how to respond positively to this feeling and here are 10 anger management tips to help control anger easily. 1. Before speaking, think, 2. Stay calm while expressing your anger, 3. Exercise regularly, 4. Take a break once in a while to relax and be you. 5. Identify what’s making you angry and deal with it, 6. Make use of the I statement regularly, 7. Never hold a grudge, 8. Release tension by using humour, 9. Try out some relaxation skills, and 10. Seek help at the right time.
See you next week.
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