• Saturday, April 13, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Of Mohbad, bullying culture in the entertainment industry and failed policing

MohBad: 5 things to know about Ceftriaxone drug

Over the course of last weekend and on the occasion of the 63rd Nigeria’s Independence celebration, I had the cause to rub minds with some of the brightest talents in the literary circle and creative space in the largest African nation cum emerging world leader in the entertainment industry. One common theme to both events is the urgency of the time we are in and how we can no longer afford to take a laissez fairez attitude to the Nigerian Entertainment Industry, particularly, the protection of our talented young men and women who have found great comfort, escape and renewed hope in the Entertainment Industry, the ‘cold breakfast’ served by the majority of past and serving public office holders notwithstanding. ‘Cold Breakfast’, as used in this context is an euphemism for failed promises, denied dreams and stolen futures through unsustainable leadership centred on selfish intents, personal aggrandisement and immediate gratification at the cost of the larger good as well as a better future for all.

Coming back to the recent discussions had about the Entertainment Industry, different thoughts have been shared about the rather unfortunate news of the tragic passage of Nigerian rapper, singer, and songwriter – Oladimeji Promise Aloba, best known as MohBad. Since the very tragic and premature exit of the star artiste (Mohbad) hit the internet, varying thoughts have emerged as to what could have led to such a rising star cut down in his prime and his light snuffed out prematurely.

Read also: Mohbad: Naira Marley, Prime Boy, others to appear before coroner October 25

Without prejudice to the ongoing formal investigation into the demise of Mohbad, this article, however, seeks to serve as a public commentary on the demise of Mohbad, bullying culture in the Entertainment Industry and failed policy in Nigeria. The article proceeds to make recommendations on how best to tackle the bullying culture and drastically reduce incidences of bad policing in Nigeria.

Mohbad, Sam Larry and the Police

On account of the video widely circulated online showing MohBad being bullied by Samson Erinfolami Balogun (largely known as ‘’Sam Larry”) and his goons during a video shoot with Zlatan Ibile, a school of thought has emerged arguing that Mohbad’s death could have been avoided if more diligence was applied by our security agencies (statutorily saddled with the responsibility to protect lives and properties) to ensure Mohbad was reasonably protected against his bullies and assailants. The reason for this position will likely not be far-fetched from the dereliction of duty by the security agency saddled with the responsibility of protecting human lives but rather chose to play politics with Mohbad’s petition, ignored the call for action in Mohbad’s petition and went further, quite disturbingly, to honour a later dated petition of a rather curious nature from Mohbad’s assailants – a petition that should never have taken precedence over that of Mohbad in the first place if diligence was exercised in the exercise of discretionary powers availed by the law. One then understands the sentiment that Mohbad’s death could have been largely averted if our men and women in uniform did their job dutifully well as sworn in the oath of service they took, refused to be complacent and swiftly rose to the occasion when approached to save Mohbad’s life and protect him against his named assailants.

Read also: Five things that happened after Mohbad died

Worth noting that in the petition dated 27 June 2023 addressed to the Assistant Inspector General of Police, The Nigeria Police Force, Force Criminal Investigation Department Annex, Alagbon Close, Ikoyi, Lagos, Mohbad alleged threat to his life further to criminal assault occasioning grievous bodily harm. Sure needs no telling that the allegations made by Mohbad via his June 2023 letter (barely three months before his unfortunate demise) were justifiable grounds to have investigated the persons of interest named in the petition. However, it would appear that Mohbad’s plea to the men and women in uniform fell on deaf ears – perhaps on account of the accusation made in his petition that Sam Larry and goons boastfully claimed to have worked for Oba Elegushi – whose office, upon the demise of Mohbad and public call for justice be done on account of Mohbad’s premature death arguably from unnatural cause(s) and in very questionable circumstances, publicly debunked such affiliation or connection by expressly denying any known association with Sam Larry and team. In disclaiming any link between Samson Balogun (Sam Larry) and the royal family whatsoever, the release from Oba Elegushi Palace (spokesman) would go on to say that Sam Larry, “Like other celebrities, politicians, religious and community leaders…visit…to pay homage…to the king and seek royal blessings just like other members of the public.” The Palace would then go on to lend voice to the call for “a thorough investigation into circumstances surrounding his (Mohbad) death with a view to unravelling any foul play.”

Arguably, the circumstances surrounding Mohbad’s death are such that could be ascertained from:

(a) Those who were with him in his last moments.

(b) Autopsy carried out after his demise which is best verified and double-checked by independent experts representing public interests best selected by creatives who have been at the forefront of championing justice being done in Mohbad’s death investigation and/or tested and trusted NGOs dedicated to justice cause.

(c) Incidents that happened in the weeks or few months before his death – including circumstances narrated in his petition to the Nigeria Police Force in June 2023 as well as videos circulated online of Mohbad being assaulted by Sam Larry and goons while on a video shoot with Zlatan Ibile as well as another video circulated online of him trying to get himself and regain his composure after another assault on him by his assailants; and

(d) Songs released by Mohbad at the relevant time to speak about the ordeal he was going through which ought to be critically analysed and any statements he must have made or writings on any platforms or in any forms at such critical time as it pertains to his assailants and what he went through in their hands.

Read also: Mohbad: Artists pour out their hearts in over 50 tribute songs

To the average Nigerian and following a review of events that led to the untimely demise of Mohbad, it may not be out of place to call out the men and women in uniform, for the seeming negligence in failing to rise to their statutory duties. Even more concerning that our men and women in uniform would choose to place more priority on protecting Mohbad’s assailants (Sam Larry and goons as captured in Mohbad’s petition) – perhaps due to Sam Larry’s alleged connection with Azeez Fashola (popularly known as Naira Marley) – the former label Boss Mohbad was signed to, and some big names in Nigeria. It is perhaps for this reason some Nigerians have continued to exercise doubt as to the objectivity of the investigation being done into Mohbad’s demise when in actual fact, the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) itself ought to have been made to face a panel of inquiry as to the role they played in Mohbad’s demise – on account of their inaction when called upon by Mohbad to save his life from his assailants. But I guess this is Nigeria and it would be a rather long stretch to make the NPF accountable for wrong done.

To the average Nigerian, Mohbad was failed by people who ought to have protected him (including our security agencies). One may, therefore, not be wrong to assert that we failed Mohbad both as a society and people. I recall being taught social contract theory as propounded by the likes of Socrates, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau as an undergraduate Honors Law Student at the University of Ibadan, and coming to the understanding that society has a duty to protect each individual in exchange for choosing a civil society conducive to all interests, and for being bound in an implied contract executed, and enforced by the constituted authority of a Sovereign, with a view to avoiding the brutal state of nature that man is naturally wired to. It is no news that man’s default state of nature is generally intolerable, and hence, rational men are willing to submit themselves to constituted authority in order to escape it. But then one begins to question the existence of the social contract theory in societies like ours where those saddled with the duties to protect one from other men’s crude nature sleep while at it or better still, choose to turn a blind eye to injustice that could occasion one’s death and only wait till such a person dies before waking up to their responsibilities.

Mohbad, Marlian Music and Sam Larry

A careful review of online reactions to Mohbad’s death will reveal proponents of the school of (public) thoughts that hold the view that Mohbad’s shining light was abruptly dimmed and cut down in his prime allegedly on account of irreconcilable differences. Though his former record label Boss has come out to debunk the accusations made and even made claims challenging Mohbad mental stability, one begins to wonder where the claims on Mohbad’s stability were when he was still alive. While not unaware of the narrative being championed by Azeez Fashola (popularly known as Naira Marley) – the former record label Boss Mohbad was signed to saying that Mohbad had psychological issues and was rather unstable at some point, the present writer is forced to argue to the contrary that Naira Marley’s eleventh-hour attempt to divert attention from the wrongs done to Mohbad, is a feeble and slippery “soapy” attempt at discrediting Mohbad, who though is not here with us again, has placed cogent and compelling evidence of bullying and attempts made on his life enough to have caused any reasonable person to live in constant fear for one’s life for as long as one life, particularly, when that is coupled with gang violence and cult-like attack on the life of a rising star coming from the rather poor, unsupportive and poverty-stricken background like that of Mohbad.

From the standpoint of the present writer, efforts made thus far to analyse some of the lyrics of some of the songs released by Mohbad and an interview he had on a radio station, where he was asked for his advice for upcoming artists will reveal an artiste of sound mind, whose only crime was being exceptionally gifted. Rather unfortunately, Mohbad ended up becoming a victim of a seemingly organised system that bullies and intimidates rising stars who have found their voices and choose to exercise their God-given free will in producing nothing but pure music laced with genuine emotions.

Read also: Mohbad music’s most streamed on YouTube this week after death

Mohbad’s crime is attempting to survive life’s treacherous moments by thinking it was sufficient enough to submit a petition to the NPF, sing about his life-threatening experiences in the only craft he knows how to best apply himself and hope by some providence, he would be delivered from his oppressors before it was too late. For choosing to depict strength through peaceful means and utmost respect for the sanctity of the social contract in a society that places priority on the power of money and the allure of power, he was denied the chance to see his child grow, enjoy the fruits of his hard-earned royalties and witness the world celebrating the shining star and leading light in the entertainment industry that he was. What a shame!

Contrary to last-minute efforts made by Naira Marley to make it seem that all was well between him and Mohbad, there is a general census that Mohbad’s relationship with his erstwhile Marlian record Boss – Naira Marley did not end well, particularly, given the supposed adversarial proceedings between them when Mohbad departed from the Marlian record label.

As for Sam Larry’s feeble attempt to wish the accusations made against him away by saying in his defence, that Mohbad owed him a certain amount of money for a performance Mohbad was meant to have done in Dubai, UAE, one wonders why he resorted to crude and brutal means in a civilised society. Quite strange and one sure finds it laughable that the same Sam Larry would turn around to write a petition against Mohbad in August 2023 after Mohbad had written to the NPF in June 2023 asking the NPF to protect him from Sam Larry and goons from making further attempts on his life. As often said by my Yoruba Mum – aje ke lana, omo ku loni, tani ko mo pe aje ana lopa omo oni? (best interpreted in English to mean that “the witch cried yesterday or made a fuss the other day and the child died today; who would not think or come to the conclusion that the witch that cried yesterday is responsible for the death of the child who passed on today?”) The Yoruba saying perhaps finds support in one of the well-established principles of law best known as the “eggshell skull rule” which basically creates a liability on a person who does any act which hastens the death of a person even if such person were to have a disorder or disease or death arising from another cause, is deemed to have killed the person.

Concluding Remarks: Where do we go from here?

It was William Butler Yeats who in his widely read poem ‘’The Second Coming’’ (The Collected Poems of W. B. Yeats, 1935), largely believed to have influenced Prof. Chinua Achebe’s ‘Things Fall Apart’ (1958) wrote of the “Turning and turning in the widening gyre”, the falcon not able to the falconer, resulting in things falling apart with the centre no longer able to hold and anarchy becomes the order of the day with the ceremony of innocence drowning right in front of our faces, while the ‘’best lack all conviction,” while the “worst are full of passionate intensity.” Some of the “prophecies” in W.B. Yeats poem sadly ring true in the case of our beloved country and care must be taken to ensure we do not completely end experiencing all projected in a poor that is close a century old but is able to paint pictures of the pitiable that our society has gotten to, despite having institutions backed by statutes.

Read also: NDLEA tackles Police over inquiry on Mohbad

Undoubtedly, the rather unfortunate demise of Mohbad again brings to the fore: (a) the need for proper regulation of the entertainment industry in Nigeria and enactment of a law to protect artists entering into entertainment industry-related contracts so as to drastically reduce unfair contract terms; (b) increased public interest awareness in the entertainment industry and protection of our young stars against bullying in the industry, while putting in place, effective measures to safeguard them; (c) need for our men and women in uniform to be awake to their responsibilities, take very seriously the oath they took to protect lives as well as to do justice to all manner of men and women without fear of favour; and (d) re-orientation for security agencies, independent citizens watch and increased accountability measures for our uniformed men and women with punitive measures for those who fail to protect citizens when called upon to do and found wanton in their statutory duties. The present writer is forced to argue that the duty to protect lives as entrenched in the statute is akin to the duty of care imposed on medical experts to exercise diligence in saving lives and where a medical expert is found not to have exercised the best judgment, a case may be instituted for criminal and/or tortious negligence.

In all, it is hoped the NPF will restore faith in the security agency by leaving no stone unturned in Mohbad’s death investigation while ensuring that men and women of the NPF do not drop the ball as it pertains to their statutory duties. In the end, we all want a working Nigeria that renews hope.

Onele is a lawyer and can be reached via [email protected]