By Bukola Olasanmi
An Igbosere Magistrate court in Lagos has granted popular Nigerian musician, Johnson Hunga Oyindamola, also known as Dammy Krane, bail in the sum of N50,000 with one surety in like sum.
The magistrate, A. F. O Botoku, also adjourned the matter till October 11 for the commencement of trial.
The musician had earlier pleaded not guilty to the three counts charge preferred against him by the police.
His lawyer, Adebayo Oniyelu, while applying for his bail, said the defendant is “a well-known musician who has not been convicted of any crime and this is the first time he will be accused of one.”
He also said the defendant would not interfere with the prosecution of the matter if granted bail, noting that Mr Johnson had been in prison custody since Friday.
Opposing the application for bail, prosecuting counsel J. I Enang said he ordinarily would not have objected to the application for bail if it were not a national issue.
When asked how the case was a national issue by Mrs Botoku, Mr Enang said it will all be revealed when the time comes. The magistrate insisted on knowing what the matter was and how it constitutes a national issue. In response, Mr Enang said the matter was all over the news already.
Interjecting, Mr Oniyelu informed the court that the case was one of breach of contract.
“The musician performed for the complainant and they are owing to him N1million. He reached out to them to request for his money which they refused to listen to him, he went on air to say they are owing to him and the next thing was his arrest.”
Mr Enang, however, told the court that the case is not as presented by the defendant.
“That is not so, the defendant went to a radio station and started threatening and defaming the complainant. In fact, we are going to amend this charge. This is an international threat. ”
When Mrs Botoku asked if he was aware of any debt issue or came across such during investigation, Mr Enang replied in the negative.
“I am not aware of any debt, no issue of debt came up during the course of investigation. ”
In response to the claim of debt owing, a representative of the complainant, Merrybet Gold Limited, who was present in court, Otemu Anaonye, said the company was not owing the musician any money and he was only making false claims to debt owing.
The counsel to the company who is also holding a watching brief in court on behalf of Merrybet, N. Anachebe, told the court they had written to Mr Johnson to withdraw his statements and he refused.
“We have written to him to retract the statements he made on his Instagram page to the effect of us owing him and he didn’t.”
Mrs Botoku asked if the crux of the matter was a case of defamation, and if so it should be filed as a civil case. But Mr Anachebe objected to the suggestion, stating that a case of defamation can be both criminal and civil.
“Your Honour, I know defamation can be both criminal and civil. ”
Mr Johnson is accused of making statements capable of breaching public peace and threatening the lives of staff of Merrybet Gold Limited on July 25, an offence that is said to be contrary to sections 301, 412 and 168 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State of Nigeria, 2015.
He is said to have released audio and video recordings containing contents capable of disrupting public peace. If found guilty, the prosecution said he is liable to three years in prison.