As protest spreads like flame of fire across major cities in the country over the murder of rising musician, Mohbad, the police force in Nigeria calls for calm, assuring that justice will be served, Gbenga Oloniniran writes
The death of singer Ilerioluwa Aloba popularly known as Mohbad who passed away at the age of 27 on September 12, has spread uprisings in Nigeria and beyond the country’s borders.
The 27-year-old talented singer who was a former signee of Naira Marley’s Marlian Records became more popular in his death as youths have trooped out across the nooks and crannies of the country not only to mourn the deceased but to demand justice.
Justice calls for Mohbad who left his less-than-a-year-old baby behind began trending as controversy trailed the circumstances that led to the singer’s death.
In June, 2023, Mohbad alleged in a petition to the police that music promoter, Samson Balogun, aka Sam Larry and 15 others all armed, stormed the venue of a video shoot where the deceased and another artiste, Omoniyi Temidayo aka Zlatan Ibile, were working; and threatened to wreak havoc.
He added that they eventually destroyed equipment worth over N5 million at the scene, and assaulted him (Mohbad) before he narrowly escaped after sustaining injuries.
But the Lagos Annex, Force Criminal Investigation Department of the Nigeria Police Force, Zone 2, Alagbon, revealed that following Mohbad’s petition, it invited Sam Larry and others, but the deceased did not show up.
The federal police department further noted that a lawyer to Sam Larry and the other suspects also wrote a counter-petition against Mohbad, alleging defamation of character.
The spokesperson for the Lagos Annex of the FCID, Oluniyi Ogundeyi, who spoke with The PUNCH last week said, “We received the petition and followed up on the information provided in the petition, and the suspects were invited. But Mohbad refused to show up to defend his petition and also provide evidence to assist the police in carrying out a proper investigation and forward the matter to the legal department for prosecution if necessary.
“The police even reached out to Mohbad on several occasions, but he never showed up, and there was nothing the police could do if a petitioner refused to defend their petition and provide evidence to help the police in investigating the matter and forward the case file to the legal department of the suspect found culpable.”
Meanwhile, following the uproar that trailed the singer’s death, and which prompted the acting Inspector General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun, to order an investigation, the police have begun a probe while assuring that justice would be served.
The Lagos State Commissioner of Police, CP Idowu Owohunwa, on Monday, set up a special police investigation team. According to the police, the team would give report in two weeks.
The team, consisting 13 members, is “to unravel the circumstances surrounding the death of the victim, identify witnesses, culprits if any, and any person that will be helpful to the investigative process and deploy processes and other technological tools to aid the investigative course in line with the relevant provisions of the Nigeria Constitution and the State Laws,” a document signed by the Lagos spokesperson, Benjamin Hundeyin, revealed.
Protests spread in Oyo, Ogun, Ekiti, Delta, Lagos, others
On Wednesday, The PUNCH gathered that the Speaker of the Oyo State House of Assembly, Adebo Ogundoyin, joined protesters in Ibadan, the state capital, as they called for justice for Mohbad.
The protesters, dressed in black T-shirts, carried various placards that called for justice for the late musician and chanted solidarity songs as they moved from the state secretariat to the Mokola and Ring Road areas.
The protest followed the rallies on Tuesday, where protesting youths stormed different state capitals to demand justice for Mohbad. Youths were seen in the Ikorodu area of Lagos, Abeokuta, the capital of Ogun State, Akure, Ondo State capital, and Ado-Ekiti, the Ekiti State capital.
An X user @SodiqTade also shared a video of youths said to be protesting in Asaba, the Delta State Capital.
“We need justice,” “Justice for Mohbad,” some of the youths were heard saying. It was gathered that some youths converged at the Effurun Roundabout in Warri to show solidarity.
In Ogun, Ekiti, Lagos, and Ondo, hundreds of youths were seen on black T-shirts as they thronged major areas in the state capitals.
Fliers have also surfaced online on planned procession scheduled to further hold in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, Wolverhampton, a city in central England, United Kingdom.
“Wolverhampton UK: Candlelight procession for Mohbad is today at 7pm,” a flier shared by an Instagram user who has been making several posts on Mohbad read. Another flier shared by the user disclosed that “Tribute for Mohbad at Lafia, Nasarawa State is on Sept 20 at 4pm.”
Another flier sighted online by our correspondent disclosed invited fans converged in the Lekki area of Lagos for a candlelight procession on Thursday.
A youth protester, Akeem Adebiyi, who spoke with our correspondent, said he was joining the protest because the lives of youths matter.
“It is not just about Mohbad, many youths are oppressed and suffering. We are in a country where it is hard to live. It is sad knowing that young star that has managed to rise to that level had his life cut short by some persons just like that. He was just 27, look at me, I’m 28. I know what this feels like for his loved ones. Youths’ lives matter! The police cannot afford to fail, we want justice.”
Artists join call for justice
Artists in the music and movie industry have not also kept quiet over the death of the singer.
Musical artist, Bella Shmurda, who took to his X handle a few days ago, expressed grief regarding the passing of Mohbad.
In the series of tweets shared on Sunday, the singer claimed Mohbad’s spirit had refused to leave him alone since his death which occurred on Tuesday.
“For the past few days now, I have been deliberating on what to do while waiting for the authorities of the Nigerian police to at least get one of the people involved in maltreatment and malicious act towards Mohbad,” he wrote.
Popular singer, Inetimi Timaya, better known by his stage name Timaya, added his voice on X saying Mohbad “brought so much light.” “The kid brought so much light #Imole #Legend #Justice4Mohbad,” he wrote via @timayatimaya.
Sanwo-Olu wades in, invites DSS
The Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Tuesday invited the Department of Security Services to join the probe of the death of Ilerioluwa Aloba, popularly known as Mohbad.
In addition to the police special investigative team in Lagos to probe the death of Mohbad, “Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu has invited the DSS to join the investigation and widen the dragnet with inter-agency collaboration and use of best-in-class technology to unearth the truth.
“Mr. Sanwo-Olu has directed that all those who may have played any role whatsoever in any event leading to the death of Mohbad be made to face the law after a thorough investigation,” a statement by the Lagos state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso said.
Lawyers seek coroner’s inquest, groups warn against #EndSARS repetition
Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, SAN, has requested a coroner’s inquest into the circumstances surrounding the passing away of Mohbad.
In a formal letter addressed to the Chief Coroner of the High Court of Lagos State in Ikeja, Falana expressed deep concern about what he referred to as a “very tragic death.”
The letter, dated September 18, 2023, signed and shared by Folakemi Falana via Instagram on behalf of the law firm, Falana & Associates, read, “We hereby request Your Lordship to conduct an inquest into the circumstances surrounding the tragic death in Lagos State, and we are confident that Your Lordship will accede to our request with utmost urgency.”
Another human rights lawyer, Festus Ogun, who had also earlier sought a coroner’s inquest, in an interview with The PUNCH on Wednesday said he was confident that the judiciary would get justice for Mohbad.
Ogun said, “I’m confident that the Nigerian judiciary will get justice for Mohbad. And justice to me means getting those involved in the painful death to face the full wrath of the law, regardless of their social status, connection or influence. Nothing more, nothing less.”
Speaking on what justice would mean in the case involving the singer, the spokesperson for the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights, Gerald Katchy, said justice in the case of Mohbad would serve as deterrence to high-profile persons who act with impunity.
Katchy said, “Last week, I questioned the police in a group I was about what happened to Mohbad. They were setting up a committee; I don’t know whether to commend them or to call it a self-serving committee. I know for sure that if they had responded as of the time the petition was sent in around June, maybe the singer would have been alive, and maybe we would have averted what is building up. But with regard to how we handle things in this country, we have lost a promising star. Justice for Mohbad will serve as a deterrent to high-profile persons who believe that they have impunity to do things. The accused persons should be invited by the police and given a time frame to answer some of the questions begging for answers. All other persons suffering in the secret should come out and speak.”
A human rights group, the Take It Back Movement, that has been part of the recent protests, warned against the repetition of the 2020 EndSARS protest.
The National Coordinator of the group, Juwon Sanyaolu, said, “Youths trooping out to demand justice for Mohbad is quite commendable. No doubt, it is our collective voice, and unity that is forcing concessions even from the highest level of government. This was the level of collective power we showed with EndSARS,”
Saying the protest would continue until justice is served, Sanyaolu said the police should do more than investigating the direct cause of death, adding, “it must entail a holistic review of all circumstances leading to his tragic demise, and bringing to book everyone indicted. It also means putting a permanent end to cult violence in the music industry, on the streets, and on our respective campuses.”
Police beg youths for patience, assures justice
Lagos CP Idowu Owohunwa while giving an update on Wednesday urged protesting fans of Mohbad to give the police space to carry out their investigations concerning the singer’s death.
The CP while meeting with actress Iyabo Ojo, Foluke Daramola, and others, who visited the command to seek justice over the singer’s death, said, “Give us the space; the stable space. If you trust us, don’t trigger anything that will take our attention away. Those people that also do not want justice can trigger it. Let the police get busy. Let the security space get busy. The more you take our attention away, the slower the process of our investigation.
“Please, appeal to other bodies and other youths that we have met, I have my honour, and I’m assuring you that we will work to get justice. Give us that space,” he said.