The counsel representing musician Azeez Fashola popularly known as Naira Marley in an alleged car theft case on Tuesday told a Lagos magistrate that his client was out of the country and therefore could not appear in court.
Ayodeji Awokulehin pleaded with Chief Magistrate Tajudeen Elias not to issue an arrest warrant for his client.
Naira Marley and his brothers and cousin are charged with alleged car theft.
The singer and his co-defendants – Idris Fashola, 18; Babatunde Fashola, 24; and Kunle Obere, 22 – are facing a four-count charge bordering on conspiracy, stealing, assault, and obstructing the arrest of Naira Marley.
At the last court hearing, Mr Elias directed the police prosecutor to ensure Naira Marley’s appearance at the next adjourned date.
On Tuesday, after the defendants were called to the dock, the magistrate asked Mr Awokulehin why his client was not in court.
“I made an order that Azeez Fashola should be in court today, where is he?”
Responding, Mr Awokulehin informed the court that his client was currently not in the country.
“Your honour, my client is not even in the country at the moment, it’s due to this Yuletide season that he is not in court.”
The lawyer’s claim came despite Naira Marley holding a widely publicised concert on Monday night at Eko Hotel.
The musician’s brothers and cousin were in court with the concert’s gate pass wrapped conspicuously around their wrists.
The magistrate said the lawyer’s excuse for his client’s absence is unacceptable.
“You are aware the case is coming up today so why will you travel? ”
The magistrate then ordered that a “broad warrant of arrest form” be brought to him.
But Mr Awokulehin pleaded earnestly with the magistrate, saying an arrest warrant would not be necessary and assuring that his client would be available on the next adjourned date.
“Your honour I can assure you that a warrant of arrest won’t be needed. The sole reason my client is not here today is really because of the Yuletide season, he will be at the next adjourned date.”
The magistrate then ordered that Naira Marley be produced in court instead of a bench warrant.
” I order that Azeez Fashola be produced forthwith, case adjourned till 14/1/2020.”
According to the police prosecutor, Edet Okoi, the three defendants committed the offence on Dec. 15, at Eko Hotel Roundabout, Victoria Island, Lagos.
He said that the trio who were in a motorcade with Naira Marley, stole a Toyota Camry vehicle with Registration No. FEE 120 AA valued at N1.8 million and an iPhone X5 worth N330,000 belonging to one Mr Adelekan Ademola.
He added that the three defendants and others at large assaulted the complainant by beating him up. They were granted the three defendants N500, 000 bail with two sureties in like sum.
The police said the offences contravene Sections 112,172, 287 and 411 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015.