I write to plead with the Nigeria Police Force.
Of course, it’s hard to compose this entreaty without a swift ricochet of transferred aggression. Nevertheless, it is increasingly exigent that I do it as I feel obliged. The word “buts” could be pertinent to another supplicant. I will do my best to avoid its employment in this piece to stress the importance of Law and Order.
I concede that the video, which has gone viral, in which Seun Kuti is seen in a brawl with a policeman, has been viewed and scrutinised by me. This incident, unflattering and curious, quickly brought to mind what happened to me a few years ago.
In 2017 I was beaten to a pulp in the Federal Capital Territory for attempting to restrain a uniformed man of the Abuja Task Force to refrain from harassing a sex worker. As a consequence, I was taken to the hospital and my right cornea was broken. I would later travel to the US to get medical help. To tell the truth, it is needless for me to recall that I was threatened by the officers to relinquish my resolve to file any complaints. And they succeeded: I filed no complaints. This was probably on account of the fact that my lawyer was confident I would lose the case. And so, I licked my wound—and life went on.
To return to the subject of our own artiste, Seun Kuti, I have known him for a long time now. What this means—to me, at least—is that I can come out to support him, since I am unable to reach him privately. Of course, I am biassed, I know, because it is even difficult to write this. However, I urgently plead with the Nigeria Police Force to exclude any level of vengeful approach toward the matter and allow for a non-judicial approach to resolving the tension.
We all know what trans-generational trauma is. I have written a book on this, and it is titled The Real Owners of Britain. The Kuti family has confronted antagonistic soldiers and police officers for generations and one would expect the police to not pander to the sensibilities of the social media court and endeavour to oversee this particular case, giving it a subtle level of credibility and legitimacy of concession. This matter should not have been allowed to escalate to the point that it has. If anything, I see it as a distraction from the main matter of the ultimate mess of an election that we, the polity, are yet to come to terms with. See where we are now, trying to create hills and mountains out of an affair that at best is of quite a personal disposition. The matter could be settled out of court, it could have been settled between Seun and the police officer, whose name I would have loved to know so that I can implore his speedy forgiveness directly.
We can’t justify any form of violence towards the police. I can only say I apologise on behalf of Seun and believe that we should let sleeping dogs lie after he’s been keenly reprimanded. I am confident that this matter, this speedily spreading unsavouriness that it has turned out to be, is not the right path to take. This is because, I believe, fervently, that vengeance, especially when it hints at intergenerational malice, is not an appropriate route toward enduring and holistic peace, a thing we desperately need in the country.
Seun Kuti is our pride – having toured with him around Europe – the honour he brings to our national collectivity. He has a massive tour, which has already kicked off. Best thing that can be done now, is to clear him of all charges and let him go make us proud. As usual.
-Nwelue is a writer and filmmaker