“If we fight, we may win; if we don’t fight, we have already lost.”
Yesterday, May 23, simultaneous protests took place in Abuja and Lagos, demanding the immediate release of Seun Kuti.
Seun Kuti had been detained after voluntarily presenting himself to the police following an altercation with a police officer in uniform on Saturday, May 13th, at Third Mainland Bridge in Lagos State. The state, through the police, seeks to turn Seun Kuti to an example in order to discourage those who dare to fight back against police brutality and extortion. However, we have once again demonstrated that we are not giving up.
The police authorities claimed that the police officer involved in the altercation was in a coma, and therefore, they did not provide an opportunity for him to present his own side of the story. It is important to note that the officer had already settled with Seun Kuti, who offered him an apology and compensation of ₦12,000.
The persecution and political harassment endured by Seun Kuti in the past 8 days was deliberate, and we state without fear of contradiction that the actions of the Nigeria Police go against their own rules of engagement. Nigerians must not give up the struggle against police brutality. The protests have yielded results, as he was released following the protests, after meeting his bail conditions.
Seun Kuti is the National Chair of the Movement of the People (MOP). His father, the legendary musician Fela Anikulapo Kuti, formed the Movement of the People (MOP) in 1979, and Seun re-established it in 2020. However, it was not registered and they were not allowed to participate in the elections. Like his father, Seun Kuti uses his music to speak out against daylight robbery by capitalists and injustice. He is known for his radical views and criticism of the ruling class and state institutions such as the police and the army. This explains why many people do not pay much attention to the alleged assault against the police officer, as Nigerians experience countless incidents of police assault every day.
His release is a victory achieved within a short period of time, and is the result of both local and international pressure. The state intended to punish Seun Kuti and ensure the cancellation of his upcoming tours across Europe. Comrades from Workers and Youth Solidarity Network (WYSN), REVOLUTION NOW, TAKE IT BACK, Movement of the People (MOP), the Youth Rights Campaign (YRC) and African Action Congress (AAC) united to fight for his release. We must also express gratitude to all the lawyers who stood by him.
In one of his albums, the late legendary musician Fela Anikulapo Kuti said, “Police Station Na Bank, DPO na Bank Manager,” expressing years of oppression by the police and other state agents. We call on all young people who are victims of police brutality not to relent but to unite their voices with ours and fight until we get rid of police repression.
It is important to stress that the police are not there to defend ordinary people. They are accountable to their bosses and top government officials. In order to have an egalitarian society where peace and justice prevail, we must fight for socialism- a system where the abundant wealth of society is democratically managed and collectively owned for the benefit of the majority. Only then can we can get rid of oppressive behaviors and lead a life of freedom.
We salute every young person, comrade, and individual who joined this campaign around the world. Once again, we have shown that we will not give up the fight against police brutality and repression.
“A luta continua; vitória é certa” (“The struggle continues; victory is certain”)