BANG Showbiz via Reuters
LAGOS, Nigeria — In recent days, hundreds of fans have held protests and candlelight vigils in various Nigerian cities in memory of Mohbad, a beloved 27-year-old Nigerian music star who died on September 12.
The exact cause of his sudden death in a Lagos hospital is unknown and allegations of harassment he suffered from politically connected figures within his former music label have sparked outrage and a wave of tributes moving. The hashtag #justiceformohbad has been trending on X, formerly known as Twitter, since his death.
His death also highlighted the treatment of musicians by powerful Nigerian labels, as well as the close ties between some in the music industry and the government.
Lagos-born Mohbad, whose real name was Ilerioluwa Aloba, was loved for his intelligent, ambitious and insightful lyrics. He was best known for hits like “Peace” and “Feel Good.”
He was buried by his family the day after his death, fueling anger and suspicion over the manner of his death.
The outrage across the country has been largely directed at Naira Marley, the boss of Mohbad’s former label, himself one of the biggest stars in Nigerian music. He is an ambassador for the country’s anti-narcotics agency and a staunch supporter of the Lagos governor, for whom he campaigned during the February elections.
After days of anger on social media from fans, radio hosts and celebrities, police this week announced an investigation into any events leading to Mohbad’s death.
On Thursday, Lagos police said the singer’s body had been exhumed and would be autopsied. The Lagos State government said the country’s intelligence services had been tapped to assist in the investigation.
On Tuesday, Lagos Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu urged anyone with information to come forward and promised to protect witnesses. “I have demanded that all those who may have played any role in Mohbad’s death be brought to justice after a thorough investigation,” he said.
Mohbad left Marley’s label, Marlian Records, last year and subsequently spoke out about the alleged harassment he suffered from Marley and his associates.
Last October he published a video on Twitter, now X, blood oozing from a shoulder wound.
“Just because I want to change managers…see what they did to me at Marlian House,” he posted, alongside another video. appearing to show several men attacking him on a street at night, who he believed were Marley and his associates.
Marley has strongly denied the allegations.
In several subsequent articles, songs and interviews, Mohbad – whose nickname was “Imole,” meaning “light” in Yoruba – spoke about his efforts to find peace in his life. He said he suffered a campaign of abuse after leaving the Marley label.
In an interview last month, he said his former label pressured promoters to cancel shows he was booked for.
Marley strongly denied harassing the late star. On Instagram this week, he said he was “distraught” by the news of Mohbad’s death and called on his fans to help him find information about his death.
In recent days, some radio stations across the country have stopped playing Marley’s songs. Other protests and vigils are planned across the country.