Seun Kuti has been released from police custody after meeting his bail conditions for allegedly assaulting a police officer, and will now embark on a delayed Europe concert tour.
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Last week (Monday May 15), the youngest son of the Nigerian Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti was arrested and detained in his hometown of Lagos by local police. Seun Kuti is alleged to have assaulted a police officer, who the 40-year-old claims was drunk.
On Wednesday (May 24), it was ruled that the public prosecutor – not the police – had the power to prosecute the musician. The judge then adjourned the case and a further hearing is scheduled for July 3.
On the same day, the judge granted Seun Kuti’s bail. Kuti took to Instagram to say “a profound thanks” to everyone that supported him.
“He is on bail and as a responsible citizen,” said his lawyer Femi Falana after the hearing. “He will continue to enjoy his rights because he is presumed innocent.”
WATCH: Moment Detained Afrobeat Musician, Seun Kuti @RealSeunKuti Was Finally Released On Bail pic.twitter.com/BgOpuq6ggl
— Sahara Reporters (@SaharaReporters) May 23, 2023
This comes after Seun Kuti’s family, friends and fans then took online to create the #FreeSeunKuti movement, commanding the release of the beloved musician. Last Saturday (May 20), Vic Mensa, Talib Kweli and Robert Glasper all shared their support for the #FreeSeunKuti movement, posting a digital flyer to their respective Instagram pages.
American Rappers, Vic Mensa, Talib Kweli, Other Global Artists Join #FreeSeunKuti Campaign, Project Afrobeat Musician’s Photos | Sahara Reporters https://t.co/oqszKUpPbT pic.twitter.com/CzReyr73Y2
— Sahara Reporters (@SaharaReporters) May 20, 2023
Vic Mensa called for the Nigerian police to “free his brother”, whereas Kweli captioned his post with: “Nah free the bro… This is exactly how they did his father Fela Kuti. And his grandmother Funmilayo Kuti.” He also shared the story of Kuti’s arrest, adding that Kuti missed several gigs in Europe. On Friday (May 19), the Black Star rapper halted his concert to bring awareness to the movement.
Talib Kweli calls for Seun Kuti’s release #FreeSeunKuti pic.twitter.com/N6VJNo4CmA
— 🐬 @𝗼𝗻𝗲𝗷𝗼𝗯𝗹𝗲𝘀𝘀𝗯𝗼𝘆 (@OneJoblessBoy) May 20, 2023
The Grammy-nominated musician had concerts scheduled in more than a dozen countries before his arrest. However, his manager Ayo Moses confirmed via The Associated Press that Kuti will still embark on the planned tour, even whilst awaiting trial.
The #FreeSeunKuti movement is another protest against police brutality in Nigeria. In a statement released on Friday (May 19), they said: “We are deeply concerned about the disproportionate response by the Nigerian Police and the efforts to unjustly target Seun Kuti.”
The biggest movement against police brutality in Nigeria is #EndSars. The music world expressed its support for protestors on the ground with pop juggernauts including Beyoncé, Rihanna, and Paloma Faith acknowledging the protests on their social media. Grammy-nominated singer H.E.R also used her Saturday Night Live performance to back the movement.
Some of the biggest Afropop stars have also demonstrated their support for, with WizKid leading mass protests against Nigerian police brutality in London. Meanwhile, 2022 NME Award winner Burna Boy told Sky News the End SARS protests are the “most important moment in Nigeria’s history”, and “if nothing changes after this, if this doesn’t work, then it is over.”
Afropop superstar Davido’s ‘FEM’ also became an anthem for the movement. He told NME, “It’s been crazy to see how it’s grown to be used as a tool. It’s amazing to see.”
The ‘If’ singer met Nigeria’s Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, who said: “I went there to convey the message of the people. I’m not here to act as a leader, I’m just like everyone else that wants a change.”
In February, Seun Kuti assisted Janelle Monae on her ethereal single, ‘Float’. Last year, Seun Kuti played at The Big Climate Thing Festival in New York alongside Haim, Princess Nokia and Mykki Blanco.