Embattled Yoruba filmmaker, Olajide Kazeem, aka, Seun Egbegbe, has spent three years in prison custody due to his failure to perfect his bail conditions.
The erstwhile Lagos socialist, known for his lavish lifestyle, has been incarcerated since February 10, 2017.
The spokesperson for the Lagos State Command of the Nigerian Correctional Service, Rotimi Oladokun, on Monday said the filmmaker is still being held at the Ikoyi prisons.
He said, “As at the last prison count, I can confirm to you that Egbegbe is still in prison custody because he is yet to perfect his bail conditions”.
Egbegbe, 43, a controversial figure in the Yoruba movie industry, was arraigned by the police for alleged fraud involving N39 million; $90,000 and £12,550.
The police alleged that he fraudulently obtained the money from no fewer than 40 Bureau De Change operators in Lagos over a period of two years – 2015 to 2017.
Egbegbe, who once managed Fuji artistes, Wale Ayinde Tekoma and Pasuma, was said to have allegedly swindled the BDC operators.
He was accused of falsely telling them he had naira to change into foreign currencies and vice versa.
On March 10 2017, over 30 BDC operators stormed the court for the trial.
The film-maker alongside his alleged accomplice, Oyekan Ayomide, was arraigned before Justice Oguntoyinbo for 36 counts bordering on advance fee fraud.
In October 2019, Egbegbe’s lawyer, Adebayo Onifade, confirm thatto his client had remained in custody because his bail conditions were yet to be perfected. At the time, the accused had spent 31 months in prison custody.
However, when our correspondent contacted Mr. Onifade on Sunday for an update, he declined to speak and accused our correspondent of being unfair to him in the reportage.
Egbegbe’s continued prison custody is quite curious because he was the toast of Yoruba movie practitioners in his heydays.
A former lover of actress, Toyin Abraham, he was a big spender and every actor who mattered ate from his palms.
The filmmaker, whose wife had a baby while he is still in prison, bought cars for numerous actresses.
The 43-year-old also financed the production of several Yoruba films under his Ebony Films Productions imprint. He also helped produce several Yoruba movies.
He was Alabi Pasuma’s personal promoter for many years and was also renowned as a heavy spender who went around with bundles of 1,000 naira notes.
He produced more than 20 movies including ’Ebony Alhaji’, ’Igbayilola’, ‘Tani Kabe?’, ’Kura’, ’Ile Olalewu’, ’Ipo Agba’ and ’Odaran’.
Nigerian actor, Leye Kuti, recently called out his colleagues for abandoning Egbegbe at such a critical time.
Justice Oluremi Oguntoyinbo of the Federal High Court ruled that the filmmaker be granted bail once he meets his bail requirements.
The Judge asked him to provide two sureties in the like sum of N2.5m each.
“One of the sureties must be a civil servant who has attained level 16 while the other surety must be a landowner in any part of Lagos metropolis.
“The landowner must submit a Certificate of Ownership of the landed property while the civil servant must submit his international passport to the court.
“The sureties must swear to an affidavit while the house and office addresses and a telephone number will be verified by the court,” the judge ruled then.
This newspaper sought the opinion of a lawyer, Olukoya Ogungbeje, on the legal implications of Egbegbe’s three-year prison detention.
Mr. Ogungbeje noted that the bail conditions appear impossible for the filmmaker to fulfill.
He said, “His counsel should have filed an application for variation of the bail conditions, probably because the conditions are stringent. For example, if his father lives in Lagos and has a landed property he can stand as a surety.
Ogungbeje also described Egbegbe’s predicament as one of the ills of criminal justice system in Nigeria.
He added, “Probably Egbegbe couldn’t afford the services of a good lawyer to take up the case, or he has been abandoned.
“But you can’t blame the lawyer. Why can’t the Legal Aid Council and Human Rights Commission look into his matter? He remains innocent until proven guilty. His friends, especially in the Yoruba movie industry, should have come to his aid. You can’t blame the lawyer or the court. Maybe Seun has not lived up to his billing in terms of judicial fees etc. But I expected the lawyer to help”.