Yaba CM Court 1: Where Fela, Seun were defended by Falana

Ogunsakin Mustapha
3 Min Read
Yaba Chief Magistrate Court

When human rights lawyer, Femi Falana SAN entered Yaba Chief Magistrate Court 1 on Tuesday, a flurry of emotions went through his mind as remembered his appearance before the same court thirty years earlier to defend a client against charges of murder.

That client was Fela Anikulapo Kuti, father of Seun, whom he came to defend for slapping a policeman. Sometimes in 1993, some boys fought at Fela’s Africa Shrine at People Street, Ikeja(one of the streets that now occupies Computer Village), Ikeja, Lagos. The fight unfortunately resulted in the death of one of them. The police used this as an opportunity to charge Fela for murder in the same courtroom where Seun, then a 10 year old boy followed the mother, Fehintola to the court.

Femi Falana, Fela, and Dr Beko Ransome-Kuti in front of the court.

Falana feeling nostalgic recounted the experience to Chief Magistrate Adeola Olatunbosun who is the trial magistrate in Seun’s case:

“Your Honour, I had a feeling of de javu when I entered this courtroom this morning. Sometime in 1993, I appeared in this court. The presiding Chief Magistrate was Mr Ganiu Ade Kelani of blessed memory. The father of the defendant, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, was charged with murder. How time flies. The defendant, who was then a 10 year old lad, was brought to the court by his mother, Fehintola.

When the Chief Magistrate explained that he rejected the first two persons that were recommended as sureties because she wanted family members, Mr. Femi Falana SAN said, “Your honour, you were perfectly in order. That was what happened in Fela’s murder charge. At the trial court, the trial judge, Justice A. Aka granted bail on the condition that either myself or his senior brother should stand surety for him. The judge ruled out Beko because of his own incessant arrests.

I asked the learned trial judge to disqualify me as the military junta could arrest me at any time. The Court agreed with me and directed his senior brother alone to stand surety. And without any hesitation, Professor Koye Ransome-kuti stood surety for Fela until the case was eventually dismissed.”

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