It was the fourth court hearing of the lawsuit against performance artist; Jelili Atiku and five others by the Lagos State commissioner of police yesterday, observers all over the world monitoring the case saw a turn in the court proceedings on Monday 27th when Magistrate Mrs. J.O Adeyemi of the Ejigbo Magistrate Court, conferring with counsels to both parties after trials had barely begun, recommended a recourse to amicable resolution, advising the warring factions to “ explore amicable, peaceful settlement” instead of the lingering situation that might end up exacerbating the prevailing tension in the community.
The prosecutor had called three witnesses for cross-examination by the defense counsels further to pending court status. However, only the primary witness, Chief Fatai Ibrahim was present; the two other witnesses were absent. The lead defense counsel objected to cross examination by drawing attention to pending application for the record of proceedings which was yet to be made available to the legal team. According to him, without the record of proceedings, it would be difficult for the defense counsels to properly cross-examine witnesses.
An amicable resolution, the magistrate emphasized, would give way to peace, knowing that, “the law court is capable of dispensing justice at any time, even after this is done, given the family ties between Jelili and Oba Morufu Ojoola, hostilities might persist, and the best way to forestall peace is an out-of-court dialogue.” This she foresees would help curb worsening tension and possibly fend off internal wrangling between members of same Ejigbo ruling family at the expense of the community.
Briefing the press, Barrister Adeola Samuel Ilori; one of the counsels to the defendants expressed his content with the alternative method which he sees as being within the magistrate’s jurisdiction and a worthwhile option to conflict resolution. “This is the best option regardless of the temporary remand suffered by my client at the beginning which I believe will be addressed. Peace and serenity will reign; law guides every society irrespective of who rules it. This out-of-the- court move, having looked at the matter, the court considers this alternative as the best. It doesn’t preclude the case, it has not been overruled, the case subsists, only suspended pending the workability of this option.” The dialogue is scheduled to hold at the court chamber, as adjourned till July 18th, 2016.
As part of its mandate to promote and defend the rights of artists across the continent, Arterial Network Nigeria has been in the forefront of this case, to ensure the truth is established, and prove that this case against Jelili Atiku is an outright violation of his fundamental human right of freedom of expression as guaranteed in the Nigerian Constitution and several international conventions of which Nigeria is a party.
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