RECENTLY, the controversial Afrobeats and hip hop singer, Azeez Adesina Fashola, popularly known as Naira Marley, had himself another ball at the country’s expense. He staged a performance at a concert in Abuja despite the interstate travel ban and social distancing rules in place at the time, aimed at curbing the spread of Covid-19, drawing enthusiastic crowds. At the event, a former Big Brother Nigeria (BBN) housemate, Kim Oprah, reportedly served as anchor. The sold-out concert was held at the Jabi Lake Mall, Abuja. Tickets sold for between N20,000 and N250,000. Never missing the opportunity to hug the limelight, Naira Marley, 26, shared videos of himself inside a private en route Abuja and upon arriving at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
A flier advertising the event, shared on Instagram by the organisers, indicated that it was meant to be a drive-through concert. In reality, however, the singer performed before a huge crowd. Social distancing was nil, and the attendees did not bother to wear face masks, as stipulated by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). Naturally, though, the government did not find the development funny: the Ministry of Aviation promptly suspended an air services company, ExecuJet Airline, indefinitely for false information and for flying Naira Marley to Abuja for the concert on June 13. The flight, it noted, was initially approved to convey a serving Justice from Lagos to Abuja. Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, could not stomach the fact that the airline capitalised on the approval granted for a legal flight operation to convey Naira Marley to Abuja for an illegal event. Authorities at the FCT promptly sealed Jabi Lake Mall for hosting the concert, although the mall has now been reopened by a court because it also hosts other law-abiding business concerns which had been negatively affected by the closure.
In staging the Abuja concert, Naira Marley was only acting true to type. President of the Marlian movement, a fanbase defined by social deviance and marked out by such oddities as wearing trousers without belts, smoking marijuana at will and scoffing at authority and, even controversially, education, Naira Marley understands, and actively exploits, the weaknesses of the Nigerian state. He attended Peckham, South London, England, and Walworth School, where he obtained his General Certificate of Secondary Education, and graduated with a distinction in business from Peckham Academy, apart from studying business law at Crossways College (now Christ the King Sixth Form College), yet Marlians scoff at education. Looked down upon by many, but actively supported in equal measure even by highly placed members of Nigeria’s political class, the singer propagates the thesis that everyone is a fraudster, but operating on different angles. Pictures showing him having hearty moments with notable fraudster, Raymond Abbas, a so-called ‘Instagram influencer” with a 2.4 million fanbase who is currently in police net for a 350 million pounds cyberscam, suffuse the internet.
Nor is the singer a stranger to brushes with the law. On May 10 2019, he was picked up by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), together with his friends Tiamiu Kayode, Adewunmi Moses and Abubakar Musa. The previous day, he had released the video for the controversial single Am I A Yahoo Boy? In May 2019, he was arraigned before the Federal High Court and pleaded not guilty. In October 2019, he returned to the Federal High Court to face his charges. His case was later adjourned to February 27 this year. Naira Marley was also detained by the Nigerian Police Force for contravening the lockdown order imposed on Lagos State by President Muhammadu Buhari to contain the spread of coronavirus in the country.
The foregoing inevitably brings us to this conclusion: it is high time the Nigerian state treated Naira Marley in accordance with its laws. While the singer has a right to propagate the kind of music that suits his fancy, he has no right to perpetrate acts that contemn the laws of the land. It was however no fault of his that he was permitted to do so. Naira Marley getting into the Lagos airport was not his fault: that was a Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) problem. How did he get there? Who gave him a pass for his flight and for what reason? The FAAN authorities have some explaining to do, and unless and until they are punished for the offence of accrediting an unapproved flight, the government cannot realistically claim to be interested in justice in this case.
But FAAN’s culpability ended the movement he left the premises of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja. Enter the FCT administration. Pray, who approved what the government called the “illegal concert” in Abuja, and why? How and why did the large number of people who thronged the concert get the latitude to violate the law with such impunity? If the concert was not approved, as claimed by the FCT administration, but was held anyway, then that inevitably leads to the conclusion that the administration, like Naira Marley himself, is not taking the health and safety of its citizens and Nigerians at large seriously.
To be sure, you cannot run a society without special privileges for government officials. This is why we find nothing wrong with the Aviation Ministry’s approval of a flight for a serving judge to discharge his constitutional responsibilities, and neither do we fault its suspension of the offending airline which claimed, rather ludicrously, that it thought its passenger was Babatunde Fashola, Minister of Works and Housing, not Azeez Fashola and his “bunch of useless people.” But on what grounds were the courtesies extended to Naira Marley based? The FCT minister must take the matter up. Lawlessness should not be tolerated even if, as the musician has boasted, many highly placed Nigerians are themselves Marlians.
YOU SHOULD NOT MISS THESE HEADLINES FROM NIGERIAN TRIBUNE
Court Threatens To Revoke Shehu Sani’s Bail
The Federal High Court, Abuja, Monday, said it would revoke the bail granted Senator Shehu Sani if he fails to appear in court on the next adjourned date for the trial of the two-count criminal charges preferred against him by the
Economic and Financial Crimes Commission… Read Full Story
Buhari Appoints New Chief Personal Security Officer
President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the appointment of Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), Aliyu Abubakar Musa, as his Chief Personal Security Officer (CPSO). He replaces Commissioner of Police (CP) Abdulkarim Dauda, who was recently redeployed… Read Full Story
APC: Buni-Led Caretaker Committee Promises True Reconciliation
As part of measure to make progress on its mandate in reconciling all factions in the ruling All Progressives Congress, the Governor Mai Mala Buni-led committee has promised to embark on genuine reconciliation of all party leaders and members ahead of the planned convention… Read Full Story
NITDA Can Finance Nigeria’s Annual Budget ―Reps Public Account
The House of Representatives says the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has the wherewithal to finance the country’s annual budget if given the necessary environment… Read Full Story
No Fee Is Charged For NIS Recruitment ― CG
The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) has warned applicants against patronising fake recruitment sites as no fee was charged for NIS recruitment. The Comptroller General, NIS, Mr Muhammad Babandede, gave the warning in a statement by the Service Public Relations Officer (SPEO), Mr Sunday James… Read Full Story
Inside Ibadan Slums Where Water Scarcity, Open Defecation Thwart Efforts At Ending COVID-19 Pandemic
Ibadan, Nigeria’s third most populous city, wears rusted zinc-roof like a royal hat. Weak bricks, cracked and patchy walls are strewn all about the outskirts of the city. The waft of open sewage soaks the air… Read Full Story
Buhari To Perform Virtual Flag-Off Of Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano Gas Pipeline Tuesday
President Muhammadu Buhari will on Tuesday, conduct a virtual flag-off of the 614km Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano Gas Pipeline construction project, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has said… Read Full Story
Whistleblower Allegation Of $1bn In Unity Bank Account False ― NPA
The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has refuted claims that it has an account containing $1bn in Unity Bank Plc. In a statement signed by the General Manager, Corporate and Strategic Communications of the NPA, Jatto Adams, the agency said that the account number being peddled in public glare by the whistleblower… Read Full Story
COVID-19: Over 2 Million Transport Workers In Critical Condition —Wabba
The President, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba, has cried out that over two million of the congress affiliate members in the road transport sector are worst hit by the effect of the COVID-19 lockdown; and are in critical condition, dying in silence… Read Full Story
EDITORIAL: The Demolition Of Nigeria’s High Commission In Ghana
A Ghanaian citizen recently attacked the Nigerian High Commission in the country, demolishing a part of it. Expectedly, the action caused ripples in the diplomatic circles, with some observers wondering what such an action portended for the relationship between Nigeria and Ghana, which was until then presumably chummy… Read Full Story
Ending The Cable Tv Profiteering
It was like a movie, watching the proceedings of the Ad Hoc Committee set up by the House of Representatives, to probe the hike of subscription rates by cable television service providers. The Chairman of the said Committee, Hon Unyime Idem, took me back to my Aluta days at Obafemi Awolowo University… Read Full Story