Actress Akindele, husband sentenced to 14-day community service
• Couple to pay N100,000 fine each
• Naira Marley, Gbadamosi in police custody, to be arraigned
• Security agents hunt other party attendees
For violating the Lagos State government’s directive on social distancing, Nollywood actress Funke Akindele Bello (a.k.a Jenifa) and her husband AbdulRasheed Bello, also known as JJC Skillz, were yesterday sentenced to a 14-day community service.
The chief magistrates’ court sitting in Ogba sentenced the couple after they pleaded guilty to a one-count charge preferred against them by the state government.
Funke and AbdulRasheed were brought to the court by detectives from the State Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Yaba led by the Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of investigation, DCP Yetunde Longe. The accused were arraigned before the Chief Magistrate Aje Afunwa for violating the social distancing directive.
The offence against them was brought pursuant to regulation 8 (1) (a)(b) 17(1)(i) of the Lagos State Infectious Disease (Emergency Prevention) Regulation 2020 and is punishable under Section 58 of Public Health Law Cap. P.16 Vol 9, Laws of Lagos State, 2015.
Prior to their arraignment, the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr.Moyosore Onigbanjo, who led the prosecution team told the court that the couple hosted a birthday party at their residence at 9 Gbadamosi Close, Amen Estate, Abijo, Lekki in the Lagos magisterial district
According to Onigbanjo, the birthday party held by the couple was attended by about 20 persons contrary to the social distancing directive contained in the regulations issued by the governor of Lagos State pursuant to the Infectious Diseases Act. He prayed the court to convict them accordingly.
In his allocutus (plea for mercy), the counsel to the defendants, Abayomi Alagbada, said that the couple were first-time offenders and were very decent members of the Lagos society.
“They have two young children who need the attention of their parents and one of them is very ill. The first defendant (Akindele-Bello) is an ambassador of Lagos State, she advocates that people should pay their taxes and she uses her talent to advance the cause of the state, she used to do it and will continue to do it,”Alagbada said.
He prayed the court to consider the relationship which will continue after. “I hope my lord will play a role in ensuring the relationship between the first defendant and Lagos State continues.”
In her judgement, Magistrate Afunwa sentenced the couple to community service for a period of 14 days for three hours from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. daily, excluding Saturday and Sunday.
She also ordered the defendants to pay a fine of N100,000 each within three days from yesterday.
“The defendants shall be made to visit 10 important public places in Lagos State to generate awareness of the COVID-19 pandemic and the consequences of non-compliance with the laws created to curb the spread of the disease.
“Each defendant shall provide the names, addresses and GSM numbers of every person who attended the party within 24 hours. In order to ensure that COVID-19 does not spread, the defendants shall be immediately held in isolation for 14 days in a place only known to the Lagos State Ministry of Health.”
A mild drama ensued after the judgment was delivered when the convicts and their counsel refused to leave the courtroom for more than two hours for the fear and shame of facing the press, especially camera men and the waiting crowd.
When they finally stepped out of the court, Akindele’s head was covered with a green flowered scarf. She was taken away in a black Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV).
The brief facts of the case as contained in the charge indicate that the suspects were arrested by operatives of Lagos State Police Command following a viral video showing a large number of persons mainly in the entertainment industry in an estate, along Ajah, Ibeju-Lekki axis, Lagos celebrating a birthday party organised by Funke and her husband.
Police spokesman, DSP Bala Elkana, disclosed that Azeez Fashola(a.k.a Naira Marley) was in police custody and would also be charged to court for allegedly violating the social distancing directive. He further revealed that the command had launched a manhunt for the remaining persons who attended the party.
It was also learnt yesterday that a former governorship candidate, Babatunde Gbadamosi, was arrested by the police for allegedly attending the Akindele-Bello birthday party.
A police source at the command headquarters revealed that Gbadamosi had been detained and might not be immediately released for violating the law.The Commissioner of Police, Lagos State Command, CP Hakeem Odumosu, expressed gratitude to Lagos residents and other well-meaning Nigerians who spoke up against the violations, stressing that together the nation could stop the spread of COVID-19.
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