BY ADEMOLA YAYA
I have always been very happy watching and following Nigerian youths in entertainment industry, particularly music; how they have explored global arena to demonstrate their talents and capacities, making us proud regardless of the fact that they have not grown up to witness any good policies implemented by successive governments in the past 30-35 years, which is their average age range, that could propel them to justifiably come up with the stuff of their output.
Last month, Sunday 20th of August, Ahmed Ololade popularly known as Asake live concert at the O2 Arena, London, with Tiwa Savage, Olamide and Fireboy is a striking example. Asake crooner arrived 20,000 capacity arena full to the brim with enthusiastic cheers from the fans as they emerged from a helicopter. As at 2022, in terms of number, O2 Arena is the 9th largest building in the world. Although it is a month since the show held, its video clips and Asake performance adaptations by youth domiciled in Nigeria still dominate the social media.
This stage name – Asake – is actually his mother’s name. When he was in a cultural group, people used to call him ‘OmoAsake’ and over time, ‘Omo’ was dropped and ever since, the name gets stuck. One would naturally be happy for these guys’ triumph in their chosen profession unlike their counterparts who indulge in drug abuse, cultism, killing themselves indiscriminately over inanity. In just two days-between Saturday, 16th – Monday 18th September, 2023 – cult clashes claimed 25 youthful lives in Sagamu, Ogun State.
However, research has shown that mafia, crooks and organised crimes have been domiciled in the leisure industry (tourism, music, movie and sports) long time ago. The industry is a home to characters with shady business deals like money laundering, hard drugs consumption and sales, killings, amongst others. This is not peculiar to a particular environment; it is a global phenomenon but being regulated so as not to constitute nuisance to the society. The mysterious death of a Nigerian rapper and singer, Ilerioluwa Oladimeji Imole Aloba popularly known as Mohbad is allusion to this aforesaid fact.
Since the reports of the demise of the 27 years old boy on 12th September, 2023, the entire entertainment industry and Nigerians have been thrown into sorrow. There have been various versions of what led to sudden termination of the life of this boy with a bright future based on his calm lyrics and storytelling. Most of the versions, however, point at Marlian Records owned by Azeez Fasola also known as Naira Marley. The reports state that Mohbad was a former signee of the Marlian Records.
Being a good song writer, he was instrumental to most of Naira Marley songs and since he quitted the label and became a solo artiste, Marlian boys had been allegedly chasing and bullying him everywhere he went. Samson Balogun also known as Sam Larry, a close associate of Naira Marley and Zinosleesky, associates of Marlian Records, are alleged to be involved in Mohbad’s death.
On her Instagram, Tori Keeche, Naira Marley female artiste, allegedly said she knew about the plan of Naira Marley and the team to kill Mohbad but was not part of it. Before his eventual death on September 12, Mohbad had on the 27th June, 2023 filed a petition to the Police, captioned: “Petition of threat to life, malicious damage of properties valued the sum of N500 million, assault occasioning harm, oppression and conduct likely to cause breach of peace” against Sam Larry and Oba Elegushi of Eti-Osa, Lagos State but police didn’t act on this petition.
The alleged involvement of Marlian Records in the death of Mohbad has negatively affected the company, the owner and associates. For instance, Zinosleesky’s US tour has been cancelled by the show promoter as nobody is buying the ticket and those who already bought are requesting refund just because he is affiliated with Marlian Music.
Locally, managements of some radio stations like Splash FM, Agidigbo FM in Ibadan, have placed ban on Naira Marley songs while over 900,000 people have unfollowed Naira Marley on Instagrame. Mohbad’s death has sparked protests in Ikorodu and Lagos State Polytechnic area, Ogun, Effirun road, Warri, Delta State, Oyo and Osun states as of the time of writing this piece, demanding for justice for his soul.
Already, Mohbad’s body is reported to have been exhumed following human right lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana intervention, writing a letter to the Chief Coroner in Lagos State High Court, Ikeja, demanding a Coroner Inquest into the death.
Only Police could unravel the exact circumstances surrounding this death as all said against Naira Marley and his associates are mere allegations; although, by public opinion, Naira Marley and his gangs are guilty as charged. He needs to immediately report himself to the police to exonerate himself if his hands are clean on the matter. Interestingly, Lagos State Police had on Monday, 18th September, in the present of the deceased parents, inaugurated a 13-man Special Team to unravel who were responsible for Mohbad’s death.
Nigeria Police owe Mohbad’s soul justice; they should not let Nigerians down in their investigation by arresting and prosecuting everyone involved in the death. As Yoruba will say, if a child does not witness historical record, he/she must not miss hearsay as the latter is superior to the former. The Nigeria Police should not let us down as they have done in the past where killers of Chief James Ajibola Idowu Ige, SAN are yet to be arrested since 23 December, 2001 when he was assassinated in his Ibadan residence.
Almost 5 years after, 27 July 2006, Engineer Anthony Olufunso Williams was also assassinated in his Ikoyi Dolphin Estate, Lagos. As I write, his killers are yet to be arrested. All eyes are, therefore, on the police to fish out Mohbad’s killers no matter how connected or wealthy they could be as the soul of Mohbad cries for justice. The rapper was survived by the two parents, wife and a five-month old baby boy.
Yusuf Oketola is a trained journalist with over five years of experience in the media industry. He has worked for both print and online medium. He is a thorough-bred professional with an eye of hindsight on issues bothering on social justice, purposeful leadership, and a society where the leaders charge and work for the prosperity of the people.