An Ogba Chief Magistrates’ Court on Monday found Nollywood superstar, Funke Akindele a.k.a. Jenifa, and her husband, a music crooner and producer, Abdul Rasheed Bello a.k.a. JJC Skillz, guilty of the offence of social distancing over the birthday party she held last Saturday for him.
The party at their Amen Estate, Ibeju Lekki, Lagos residence was in contravention of the lockdown order of President Muhammadu Buhari and Lagos Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu order on social distancing, which forbade a gathering of more than 20 people.
Chief Magistrate Yewande Aje-Afunwa, in her judgment, convicted the couple of a one-count charge brought against them by the Lagos State Government.
Chief Magistrate Aje-Afunwa sentenced Funke Akindele and husband, Abdul Rasheed Bello to 14- day community service each to start from 9.00 a.m. to 12 noon daily during which they are to sensitise the public on the pandemic COVID-19 in ten major areas of the state.
They are also to pay a fine of N100,000 each after which they would observe the period for isolation.
Funke and her husband were represented by their counsel, Abayomi Alagbada.
The Lagos State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Moyo Onigbanjo (SAN), who was the prosecutor, told the court that Funke and her husband Bello, flouted the directive of the Lagos Governor when they gathered more than 20 people at their Lekki home.
The charge dated April 6, 2020 number MIK/A/43/2020 was signed by the Director, Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) Yaquib Oshoala.
It stated: “That you (1) Funke Akindele (2) Abdul Rasheed Bello on the 4th day of April, 2020 at 9, Gbadamosi Close, Amen Estate, Ibeju Lekki in the Lagos Magisterial District gathered at the aforementioned address with over twenty persons contrary to the social distancing directives of Mr Governor of Lagos State made pursuant to Regulation 8(1)(a) & (b) and 17(1)“) of the Lagos State Infectious Disease(Emergency PreventionMegu/atian 2020 and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 58 Public Health Law Cap P16 Vol.9 Laws of Lagos State, 2015.
The law provided that “Where there is a violation of a close down or stay at home order, security Agencies shall have the power to arrest without warrant and may detain any person who violates the close down or stay at home order for at least 48 hours.
“Where the arrested person is found guilty, the person is liable to a fine of N100,000.00 or one-month imprisonment or three months Community service.”
Funke and her husband pleaded guilty.
Following their guilty plea, Onigbanjo urged the court to sentence the defendants as charged to serve as deterrence to others.
But defence counsel, Alagbada, in his allocutus, pleaded for leniency on behalf of Funke and her husband and urged the court to temper justice with mercy.
“I plead for leniency on the following grounds. Both of them are first time offenders. They are respectable members of the society and have two young children to cater for,” he pleaded.
After taking their plea, Magistrate Aje-Afunwa stood the matter down for over one hour 30 minutes and went into her Chamber to consider facts of the case and sentencing.
Among the celebrities that attended the party included Naira Marley; Rasheed Gbadamosi, a former Lagos state governorship aspirant among others.
The party, it was said, had in attendance more than the permissible number of people in contravention of the restriction order to contain COVID-19 pandemic.
The social media had been agog with a viral video of the party, which attracted star artistes.
Members of the public who watched the video had expressed condemnation over the party.
Funke Akindele had apologised to the public through her twitter handle following outrage by members of the public.