In the wake of the tragic death of singer Ilerioluwa Oladimeji ‘Imole’ Aloba (Mohbad), which has shaken the nation, Nigeria is once again on the verge of a revolution, with youth-led protests gaining traction. This time, it’s not a call to end police brutality, but a collective outcry over the death of a rising music artist.
The sentiments of anger, frustration, and a demand for justice have engulfed the social media, drawing thousands of young Nigerians back to the streets in a quest for accountability and change.
It would be recalled that Mohbad, who died on September 12, was buried the next day, fueling online and offline outrage.
Mohbad was a promising music artist known for his deep lyrics and relatable tracks. His untimely death has sent shockwaves throughout the entertainment industry and the nation.
This untimely death with no recognisable cause has left his fans, Nigerians, and fellow artists grieving and searching for answers, while various influencers and celebrities have taken to their social media pages to express their feelings, some taking it a bit further.
Nollywood actress Iyabo Ojo, on Wednesday, September 20, led a large group of demonstrators to the Lagos House of Assembly, asking lawmakers to take action concerning the strange death.
She said: “It is no longer news that Lagosians are agitating for justice over the death of Mr Ireoluwa Oladimeji Aloba, popularly known as Mohbad, who died under some unclear circumstances,” she told members of the House whom Speaker Mudashiru Obasa represented.
Meanwhile, Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has invited the Department of State Services (DSS) to join the probe into Mohbad’s demise.
“I would like to assure everyone that I am not oblivious to the sad passing of Ilerioluwa Oladimeji Imole Aloba (Mohbad). We have been closely working behind the scenes with relevant authorities and keenly following the ongoing investigations,” he wrote on his X handle (formerly Twitter) on Tuesday.
The Lagos State Police Command also inaugurated a 13-man special investigation team to probe the mysterious death.
On Monday, the Lagos State Police Commissioner, Idowu Owohunwa said: “Do not forget we have unique access with INTERPOL. Everybody linked to it (the death of Mohbad) will be identified, and they will be brought to establish their level of involvement.”
The state police command also gave an update regarding the autopsy saying: “The Nigeria Police Force wishes to inform the public that the autopsy procedure for Mr. Mohbad has been successfully completed. Further information will be provided as soon as the results are available,” the police tweeted.
However, youths remain sceptical, emphasising the need for concrete actions and reforms rather than mere words.
Since the passing of Aloba, videos and pictures of how he was constantly bullied, beaten, and humiliated have flooded the social media, with claims that he was always living in fear. The main people accused are former label boss, Azeez Fashola, better known as Naira Marley, and Samson Erinfolami Balogun, better known as Sam Larry. Both have since left the country.
Nigerians and celebrities who fear that the case might be swept under the carpet, have since taken to their social media pages to express disappointment over the country’s justice system.
Mohbad’s story embodies the popular saying, “Every day for the thief, one day for the owner.” Countless individuals have indeed met similar fates, perhaps even more brutal ones. However, we must understand that launching a revolution only takes one incident.
It would be recalled that Mohbad filed a petition on June 27, 2023, alleging that Sam Larry and 15 others, all armed, stormed the venue of a video shoot where the deceased and another artiste, Omoniyi Temidayo, aka Zlatan Ibile, were working and wreaked havoc there.
Amidst the renewed calls for justice following Mohbad’s tragic death, a troubling narrative emerged—”The bullied and the bully” within the music industry and Nigeria.
This disturbing revelation sheds light on the darker world of entertainment, where young artists often find themselves caught between pursuing their dreams, and the oppressive forces that seek to exploit their talents. It emphasises the urgent need for reforms that protect artists/individuals from exploitation and ensure cases like this don’t go unpunished. As the youth gather all over again, sentiments run high, fueled by a desire for justice and a determination to bring about lasting change.
A candlelight procession in his honour was held on Thursday, in Lagos. The route began at Lekki Phase 1 Gate and terminated at Muri Okunola Park, on Victoria Island.
The late singer’s management arranged the demonstration, which began at 5 p.m. and ended at 8 p.m. Famous Nigerian artists, including Davido, Falz, and Do2tun alongside other celebrities and youths, stormed the streets of Lagos in a candlelight march to pay their respects to Mohbad, just like the one held in Ekiti, Delta, Osun and Ogun states with protestors carrying placards and chanting slogans demanding justice for the dead, and an end to persecution and intimidation by those in authority, or close to them.
After the emotional memorial concert in Lagos, the mourners marched towards the Lekki Tollgate to continue their virgil, where police dispersed the crowd. The circumstances sparked a familiar fire in the hearts of Nigerian youths, similar to the 2020 #EndSARS protests.
While reacting to the news, the police spokesperson in Lagos State, Benjamin Hundeyin, stated that the organisers sent out messages on social media requesting everyone to depart, emphasising that it was not a demonstration, but a procession that had ended successfully.
Police Commissioner Owohunwa also warned that mischief makers or groups of persons found disturbing the peace would be arrested under whatever guise.
Benjamin Hundeyin said: “This persuasion and appeal went on for hours, but met with defiance in words and action. “At this point, all lanes in and out of Lekki had been totally blocked. Vehicular movement on the ever-busy expressway had been brought to a total standstill, leading to traffic build-up.
“Having gone down this road before, having learnt from previous similar encounters, and having studied the pattern in the crowd, the red flags and early warning signs of total chaos and anarchy were discernible,” he said in Ikeja.
He added that in fulfillment of the police’s mandate to protect lives and property, maintain law and order, and prevent crimes, they adopted the least harmful method of crowd dispersal – the use of teargas. “No single live ammunition was fired. The police adopted crowd management’s best practices in engaging the unruly crowd.”
This was followed by similar statements from On-Air-Personality Do2tun and reality television star, Tacha (of the Big Brother Naija television show), stating that tributers had no reason to converse at the tollgate, buttressing Hundeyin’s statements.
Social media platforms have played a crucial role in stirring protest resurgence. The hashtag #JusticeForMohbad has trended globally, drawing international attention to the cause, just like #EndSARS 2020. The new sets of protests serve as a powerful reminder of the unyielding spirit of Nigerian youths.
It also highlights the urgency of repeatedly addressing issues that fueled these protests.
Meanwhile, tributes have continued to pour in as Mohbad’s tragic death has continued to light up flames on both the social media, and the traditional media (locally and internationally) reminding the world that the voices of Nigerian youths cannot be silenced.
Whether this chapter leads to meaningful reform remains to be seen. Still, one thing is clear – the spirit of resilience and hope continues to burn brightly in the hearts of Nigerian youths.