Mohbad: What if Naira Marley is innocent?
The mantra of the world’s justice system is “Innocent until proven guilty” but the Netizens and the so-called social media activists seem not to be in the know. Since the news of the death of former Marlian Records singer, Mohbad broke, the jackals and the hyenas have come out of their shadows to have a feast for reasons, mostly not out of love for the deceased but to have their own moment of glory.
It is rather sad that such a young and talented man like Ilerioluwa Oladimeji Aloba a.k.a Mohbad would depart the world before his full glory could be felt. And it is equally sad that these jackals and hyenas would dance on his grave, in the guise of seeking justice for him, when many of them knew what he was going through and could do nothing. Yes, some people knew what was going on inside the Marlian Empire but refused to speak out, possibly, out of self-guilt that they are not much different from the man they are championing his crucifixion.
Naira Marley’s CV isn’t exactly a glowing one, to say the least. A man who claimed to have been arrested and been to jail 127 times in his Pecham days in the UK where he grew up can hardly be described as an upright man. Everyone knew what and who he was before associating with him. He didn’t choose a career in law or medicine because he would hardly fit in. He chose music and we loved him for it even though his art is all about the lewdest things of life.
When he signed Ilerioluwa Oladimeji Aloba a.k.a Mohbad, his intentions were pure – to help the young man grow musically and to make money for both parties. Contrary to the picture social media activists are painting all over town, a record label, like Marlian Records or any other for that matter, is not a charity organisation but a business venture. Beyond certain common values Mohbad and Naira Marley shared, their association was simply employer-employee relation. Naira Marley invested in him and expected returns. There, something went wrong and we may never know the details as no one would believe the Soapy hitmaker and Mohbad is dead.
It is not the first time an artist and their label would part ways, either peacefully or at daggers drawn. There are so many in the memory, too many to mention. But when you have a label like the Marlian Records, populated by street muscle men and founded on cult principles, walking out may not be as easy as tendering a resignation letter. Mohbad suffered consequences of his association but didn’t deserve to die. Noone does. The question is, has any evidence emerged that Naira Marley killed him? The answer is capital “No”. Even, no single evidence has emerged, either audio or video, that Naira Marley personally, physically attacked Mohbad. All we have seen are of cohorts acting on his behalf to defend the honour of their emperor because the Marlian Records has been named and instituted as an empire by Naira Marley himself.
Remember, “Naira Marley, in an interview referred to his fans as his “Empire,” a subtle way of strutting himself as the Emperor. He had the music. He had the voice. He had the money. He had fame. He owned the streets. He created the language. Nigerians fell in love. He was the blatant expression of everything mad we wanted to do. He was the vivid reflection of the darkest sides of us all; the sides we never let people see. His Empire seems to be turning on him. Almost everyone is calling for Naira Marley ‘s head for the needless death of Mhobad.,” so says @page_advantage on Instagram.
But all these do not point to Naira Marley killing Mohbad.
After series of attacks, Ilerioluwa Oladimeji Aloba a.k.a Mohbad sent a petition dated 27th of June 2023 to the Nigerian Police Office, and addressed to the Assistant Inspector-General of Police, Force Criminal Investigation Department, Alagbon, Ikoyi with titled “Petition of threat to life, malicious damage of properties, valued at 5 million naira, assault occasioning harm, oppression and conduct likely to cause breach of peace against Sam Larry Elegushi, Elele, Obele and others.”
The petition didn’t indict Naira Marley in any way and his name was not mentioned in the whole content.
Quote excerpted from the petition: “on the 25th of June, while having a video shoot with another artist, Zlatan Ibile, the above mentioned persons, numbering about 15 led by Sam Larry Elegushi invaded the premises with dangerous arms such as guns, cutlass etc where I was shooting video and scattered the whole process of the shooting, damaged the equipment I was using for the shooting……However, during the assault they were boasting that they work for Oba Elegushi and they have been asked to deal with me for reasons best known to them which till date are are still threatening to kill me if seen.”
No mention of Naira Marley whatsoever. He was not even in the picture. Only Sam Larry and others, including Oba Elegushi were mentioned. The Elegushi Royal family has however disowned Sam Larry, that he is not a member of the family or acting in any capacity for them. Not Naira Marley or the Marlian Records was in the picture.
Even when Mohbad’s father was asked if he suspected Naira Marley, he said no. Even going as far as saying he was nice to his son.
The question has always been asked at any interview with a record label : “Are record labels designed to exploit artists?”. There has never been a satisfactory answer because it is tantamount to asking if companies are designed to exploit employees.
The list of artists who have feuded with their record labels is endless. King Sunny Ade, D’Banj, Harrysong, Iyanya, Cynthia Morgan, Bryson, and many others have been victims.
Even on the international scene it is not an unknown phenomenon. Johnny Cash, Dr Dre, Courtney Love, Backstreet and even the ultimate late king of pop, Michael Jackson had a dispute with Sony in 2001, accusing them of not promoting his 2001 album “Invincible” well enough.
In 2002, he accused his record label of racism, saying, “The recording companies really, really do conspire against the artists — they steal, they cheat, they do everything they can.”
Justice for Mohbad
The circumstances surrounding the death of Ilerioluwa Oladimeji Aloba are questionable and deserve to be investigated. Evidently, he has not died in vain given the kind of movement his death has birthed. No artist in memory, in a long time, has been as glorious in death than in life like Mohbad. His death must count for something and could spark a lot of reforms in the entertainment space.
Only the death of George Floyd has generated such a monumental movement for justice in recent memory.
But there are many Mohbads out there on the streets, in the workplaces and in their graves, the system failed them just as it failed Mohbad. Naira Marley’s culpability in his death, until proven otherwise, is the same impact friends, family, workplaces, employers have on our lives. But they could hardly qualifies as murderers or so many companies, bosses and friends would be on death-row.
Thank God, the authorities have listened to the voices of the people calling for justice, his corpse has been exhumed and autopsy completed. We wait but must be prepared for the consequence as it may be as far-reaching as unexpected.
•Written By Ayo Onikoyi