Popularly called Marlian President, a controversial singer, Azeez Fashola, aka Naira Marley, who had a cult-like following, could be said to be living the kind of life that millions of his peers could only dream of.
However, on September 12, 2023, things went downhill when his former signee, Ilerioluwa Aloba, aka Mohbad, died in controversial circumstances. Shortly before his death, Mohbad had cried out that he was being harassed and assaulted by people allegedly acting on the orders of Marley, because he left Marlian Music.
Since the sad incident, the embattled ‘Soapy’ singer has faced strident criticisms from Nigerians, with many calling for his arrest. However, he noted that he was not in the country at the time of Mohbad’s death, and would return if the police could guarantee his safety. This was even as many of his Instagram fans had ‘unfollowed’ him in their numbers. In less than two weeks, his Instagram followers reduced from 7.3 million followers to 6.8 million followers.
He eventually arrived in the country on Tuesday, October 3, 2023, via the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos, into the waiting hands of police officers, who whisked him away to the Lagos State Police Command’s Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department, Panti, Yaba, Lagos.
According to a police source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, the ‘Soapy’ singer was then detained at cell D4 of the police unit.
When our correspondent paid a visit to the SCIID on Wednesday, October 4, 2023, the usually hyper active and lewd singer could be seen looking gloomy and lonely, as he was escorted to the admin block of his D4 cell in company of some police officers and his associate, Balogun Eletu, aka Sam Larry. He was simply dressed in a black jean trousers, a shirt and a multicoloured jacket, which hung lazily from one part of his shoulders. His hair was not styled in his usual flamboyant manner; rather, he let it loose as if hoping that his worries would flow away in the same way.
He had just returned from a magistrate court, where the police had secured a remand warrant to keep him in their custody beyond the constitutional 48 hours.
Giving an insight into Marley’s demeanour since he got to the station, another officer told Saturday Beats, “He got here at about 11pm yesterday (Tuesday).
“He is not being mistreated because police officers are not bad people. They did not touch him or do anything to him. He has been very lively.
“Sam Larry is also here. Though there is nobody that would be in this kind of situation and be happy, but Naira Marley is a ‘flenjo’ (outgoing person).”
According to a trader, she had caught sight of Marley on a number of occasions that day. She added that he had been free-spirited and relating nicely with people since he got there.
Others who overheard the conversation added that the opposite was the case for Sam Larry, who they perceived to be stern-faced and arrogant.
While Marley seemed jovial and talked to a few people as he walked by, Larry wore a frown, and did not relate with anybody.
Describing the living conditions of the new detainees, a police officer said, “They are not staying together; they are in separate rooms. There is a VIP room, but there is no air conditioner there. They only have new mattresses and fans. After they leave, they could dispose of the foam or give it out.”
The officer added that people had been visiting Marley, and bringing food for him.
Meanwhile, there seems to be more trouble for the singer, as Justice Nicholas Oweibo of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos, on Friday, October 6, issued a production warrant against him.
The judge ordered Naira Marley’s lawyer, Olalekan Ojo (SAN) to produce the singer who is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on 11-count charges bordering on conspiracy and credit card fraud, in court on October 30.
Speaking on the development, the spokesperson for EFCC, Dele Oyewale, said, “The production warrant issued by the judge today has compelled Naira Marley’s lawyer, Olalekan Ojo to produce the singer in court at the next adjourned date, which is October 30. It is not the duty of the EFCC to take the singer from police custody.”
Madukwe B. Nwabuisi is an accomplished journalist renown for his fearless reporting style and extensive expertise in the field. He is an investigative journalist, who has established himself as a kamikaze reporter.