Funke Akindele-Bello, husband to serve 14-day community service, fined N100, 000 for flouting social distancing directives
For flouting the social distancing directives of the Lagos State Government by hosting a birthday party at their home, famous Nollywood actress, Funke Akindele-Bello and her husband Abdul-rasheed Bello aka JJC Skillz were each fined N100,000 by an Ogba Chief Magistrates’ Court.
Chief Magistrate, Yewande Aje-Afunwa while sentencing couple, described their actions as reckless and ordered that they should serve a 14-day community service amongst other sanctions.
“The defendants shall pay a fine of N100, 000 within three days from today. They are to serve community service for a period of 14-days for three hours from 9am-12pm daily excluding Saturday and Sunday, the community service shall be done in any public place in Lagos.
“The defendants shall be made to visit 10 important public places in Lagos State to generate awareness of the COVID-19 pandemic and the consequences of non-compliance with the laws created to curb the spread of the disease.
“Each defendant shall provide the names, addresses and GSM numbers of every person who attended the party within 24-hours.
“In order to ensure that COVID-19 does not spread, the defendants shall be immediately held in isolation for 14-days in a place only known to the Lagos State Ministry of Health.”
Earlier while reading the sentence, Aje-Afunwa strongly admonished the couple for their actions and said that the sentence will serve as a deterrent to others.
“The gathering was a reckless and irresponsible act. When thousands have died or have been infected and the whole world is mourning it is callous for an individual to throw such a huge party.
“While governments are paying millions to flatten the curve the two defendants were strengthening the curve by throwing a party.
“Have the two defendants lived up to the expectations of the public and teeming youths that look up to them? The answer is no,” she said.
The Chief Magistrate noted that the defendants had no prior criminal record and had looked remorseful and after the sentence the general public will be put on notice of the consequences of flouting the social distancing directives.
It may be recalled that following social distancing guidelines, less than 20 persons were allowed in the courtroom.
The prosecution team was led by the Attorney-General of Lagos, Mr Moyosore Onigbanjo (SAN). A member of the team was the Director of the Lagos State Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP), Mr Yhaqub Oshoala.
Other prosecution team members were a Director of the DPP, Dr Jide Martins and an Assistant-Director of the DPP Mr Jonathan Ogunsanya.
Members of the couple’s defence team were Mr Abayomi Alagbada and Mr Akeem Fadun.
Earlier during their arraignment, Akindele-Bello and Bello plead guilty to a charge of flouting the social distancing directives of the Lagos State Government.
According to the prosecution, the couple committed the offence on April 4 at their home located at No. 9, Gbadamosi St., Amen Estate, Ibeju-Lekki, Lagos.
The charge stated that the defendants gathered with over 20 persons at the residence contrary to Regulation 8(1)(a) and (b) which is punishable under Section 58 of the Public Health Laws of Lagos State 2015.
Addressing the court after the charge was read; Onigbanjo said that the couple held a birthday party at their residence in which several persons attended.
“This is contrary to the social distancing directives contained in the regulations issued by the Governor of Lagos State pursuant to the Infectious Diseases Act.
“Particularly, the defendants flouted Regulations 8(1)(a)(b) and 17(1)(I) of the Lagos State Emergency Regulations 2020.
“My lord, the defendants’ offences is punishable under Section 58 Public Health Laws of Lagos State 2015.
“The defendants having pleaded guilty, I urge the court to convict them accordingly,” the Lagos State A-G said.
After the submission of the A-G, Akindele-Bello and Bello were asked if the facts ascertained by the state against them were true.
“It is true though there are one or two exemptions,” Akindele-Bello who was in tears, responded.
“Yes it is true but there are some exemptions,” Bello said.
Reacting to their response, the Chief Magistrate Aje-Afunwa said that the couple could not give a “partial answer” or else a plea of not guilty will be entered against them.
Following the assertion of the Chief Magistrate, the couple said they are admitting all the facts brought against them by Lagos State and plead guilty to the charge.
Alagbada in his allocutus (plea for mercy) said that the couples are first time offenders and very decent members of the Lagos society.
“They have two young children who need the attention of their parents and one of them is very ill.
“The first defendant (Akindele-Bello) is an ambassador of Lagos State, she advocates that people should pay their taxes and she uses her talent to advance the cause of the state, she used to do it and will continue to do it.
“I urge my lord to consider this relationship which will continue after now and I hope my lord will play a role in ensuring the relationship between the first defendant and Lagos State continues.
“The first and second defendants are role models to young people, many of whom were at the party on that day.
“The offence was committed in ignorance and majority of the people in the house that day are members of her team who reside there,” the defence counsel said.
Akindele-Bello was arrested by authorities on April 5 for flouting the social distancing order of the Lagos State Government.
The actress had on April 4 hosted numerous people including Azeez Fashola alias Naira Marley to her husband’s 43rd birthday party at their home located at Amen Estate, Eleko Beach Road, Ibeju-Lekki, Lagos.
Videos of the party were posted and circulated on various social media platform and according to the police, efforts are ongoing to arrest Naira Marle y and other persons featured in the video.
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