A popular Nigerian actress, Funke Akindele-Bello, has been arrested for hosting a party while the country is observing a lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus.
According to the Lagos State Police spokesperson, Bala Elkana, the actress was arrested on Saturday. “Yes, we have arrested Funke Akindele and we are looking for the others,” Elkana was quoted by the Punch.
The party, which was held in her Lagos Amen mansion, was to celebrate the birthday of her husband and producer JJC Skillz.
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The birthday party witnessed more than the required 25-person restriction announced by the government to ensure safe social distancing. In attendance was Nigerian singer, Azeez Fashola, popularly known in showbiz circle as Naira Marley, and popular businessman and politician, Babatunde Gbadamosi.
Funke Akindele addresses fans over the party. pic.twitter.com/L19tzTqpvc
— Ibrahim Salawu (@UnilagOlodo) April 5, 2020
Locals have taken to social media to condemn the actress, who is popularly known as ‘Jenifa’ following her role in the sitcom, “Jenifa’s Diary”.
Many have described the video in which she is seen partying as “irresponsible”.
If they didn’t throw a party nothing will happen sha.
It just takes one person, just one to spread the virus,can she defend everyone in that estate that they haven’t had interactions with people outside.
I love Funke akindele but the truth is holding a party wasn’t necessary.
— Fragrance Plug (Oreoluwa.O) (@Aurelovesstars) April 5, 2020
Akindele-Bello, on the other hand, has apologized. In a video message, the actress stated those who were at the party had been living in the house for “some months before, weeks before and days before the party.”
In essence, Amen Estate residents can flout govt orders at will cos they feel their estate is secure. Even hospitals that are fumigated and handle these cases do have people getting infected at the hospital.— Jeffrey✨ (@PhoenixDigitalX) April 5, 2020
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control has debunked claims that the actress is an ambassador of the institution, although she has been at the forefront calling on Nigerians to observe social distancing.
As an agency of the Federal Government of Nigeria, NCDC has not engaged brand ambassadors as part of our response to #COVID19
— NCDC (@NCDCgov) April 5, 2020
“As an agency of the Federal Government of Nigeria, NCDC has not engaged brand ambassadors as part of our response to COVID-19. We continue to emphasize that all Nigerians maintain social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” it said in a tweet.
The NCDC also pulled down from its website her advert in which she was preaching social distancing.
Meanwhile, Premium Times reported that known antiseptic brand, Dettol Nigeria, which had an endorsement deal with her condemned her behaviour.
No matter what she says, I still think it’s very wrong to throw a party especially during this time. It just takes one asymptomatic carrier to attend and party with the other guests, just one.
God save us all.
— David A. Damilola (@iamdamilosky_) April 5, 2020
“We have been made aware through social media that Funke Akindele recently, acting in her capacity, had a celebration which is against the caution to the public on social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, ” it said.
Local media reports that the Lagos Infection Diseases Regulation has prescribed a jail term of one month or $272 fine or both for persons who are found guilty of hosting gatherings or flouting the lockdown order.
“Where there is a violation of a close-down or stay at home order, security Agencies shall have the power to arrest without warrant and may detain any person who violates the closedown or stay at home order for at least forty-eight (48) hours.”
So far, Nigeria has recorded 233 cases of COVID-19, while 33 have recovered, five have been reported dead.