Lagos Police recently released notice on their official Instagram page that musician Burna Boy has been arrested, interrogated, and will be arraigned in a Lagos criminal court on Monday, December 18, 2017.
The pop musician, Damini Ogulu, a.k.a Burna boy, who was sought for in connection with the robbery attack on another popular musician, Mr. 2kay at Eko Hotel early last month, reported, to the police today 15/12/2017 at about 1700 hours. He was subsequently arrested, interrogated and detained and would have his day in court on Monday 18/12/2017.
SP Chike Oti
Police Public Relations Officer,
Lagos State Police Command.
Ms. Uduak Legal Commentary & Analysis
A couple of things to note:
- Burna Boy chose the wrong venue to assault his fellow music colleague just because he did not like what the guy said to the media. He chose Eko Hotel & Suites.
- Eko Hotel & Suites is a 5 Star hotel in Lagos owned by the Chagroury Group, a company with a large business portfolio that according to Wikipedia includes “construction and property development, flour mills, water bottling and purification, glass manufacturing, insurance, hotels, furniture manufacturing, telecommunications, transportation, IT, catering and international financing.” Even if the Nigerian police wanted to live up to the expectations of being incompetent, they have no choice here because it is essential the hotel shows patrons locally and globally that they are safe when they book accommodations at the hotel. As I indicated, this is not a case Burna can easily get out of.
- Burna is not a rich guy or the son of a rich billionaire, where somehow the situation can be excused or explained away, as many situations involving the wealthy are in Nigeria. He is an incredibly talented musician who has a criminal rap sheet in the UK and has a bad reputation for being very difficult to work with.
- Burna through statements on and offline clearly implicated himself as a principal who committed the crime, or at a minimum, an accomplice under Nigerian Criminal Law.
- Finally, revisit my prior republished discussions below on detentions and arraignments under Nigerian law. The police say Burna was interrogated. I hope he had a lawyer with him. Anytime you speak to the police about a crime, have your criminal defense lawyer present or get his/her approval before you speak to the police.
What does it mean to be “detained”?
When a person is detained, it means such person, the defendant, is kept in police custody or cell. Further, Nigeria’s Constitution requires that when the police effectuate an arrest without a warrant and the crime is a non-capital offence, the police must release the defendant on bail if they cannot bring the defendant before a court within 24 hours from the time they arrested and detained such defendant. There is an exception. If the 24 hours falls on a weekend or holiday, then the police have 48hours maximum to bring the defendant to court for an arraignment.
Burna was arrested this Friday so he will remain in jail since it is a weekend and technically should appear before a Judge by Monday for an arraignment.
What is an arraignment?
An “arraignment” is a legal fancy word for saying the first day a defendant makes an appearance in court where he is informed of the charges against him. In Nigeria, the Judge will inform the defendant of the charges against him, read the defendant his rights and ask how he pleads i.e. guilty or not guilty. In the USA, it is a similar procedure. We do add a “no contest” plea to the mix. This means a defendant can plead “guilty,” “not guilty” or “no contest.” A “no contest” plea is essentially the same as a guilty plea.
Finally, the judge will decide whether the defendant should be released on bail. In the USA, courts will look at a defendant’s ties to the community, the seriousness of the crime, whether the defendant has a criminal record, whether the defendant is a flight risk etc. The Judge assesses all of these factors as part of what is called a release on “OR” meaning your own recognizance. If all checks out, a defendant will be released on OR pending next court hearing. If all does not check out, then the judge can release the defendant on bail or not release him at all.
How about bail? How does that work?
The Nigerian police have the broad discretion, per the Criminal Procedure Act, to determine whether they will grant a criminal defendant bail. The judges tend to be passive and concede complete control to the police in that aspect. This creates opportunities for abuse that has been ongoing for decades within the legal justice system, specifically detentions without trials. I doubt, however, that this will be Burna’s reality.
Let’s see how this case shakes up.
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