Explainer: What Happened at Asake’s O2 Academy Concert

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Asake, whose real name is Ahmed Ololade, has had a phenomenal year as a breakout star in the Nigerian music scene. Upon release this September, his debut album Mr Money With The Vibe enjoyed wide critical acclaim and commercial success, reaching number one on the top albums chart in over 25 countries, including Nigeria, the UK and Ireland.

However, Asake’s concerts have not enjoyed a smooth run. Fans of the 27-year-old bemoaned the steep price of his Lagos concert scheduled for December 22, with regular ticket prices selling for 70,000 naira. Earlier this month, fans at his Birmingham concert booed him when he appeared on stage much later than he was due. More controversies trail the musician as his concert at the O2 Academy in Brixton, South London on Thursday night, fell into disarray.

Stampede at O2 Academy, leaving eight hospitalized

A stampede ensued during the concert, which has left eight people in hospital, with four in a critical condition. The stampede, reports say, began when many people tried to force their way into the venue. Police were called to the venue on Stockwell Road around 9.35pm after large numbers of people attempted to force entry to the concert. The police said they found a number of people with “injuries believed to have been caused by crushing.”

It is not yet clear what occasioned the forced entry or if those who attempted to break into the venue had tickets. But one report says that the freezing temperature outside the venue may have caused some to want to force their way in.

Concert cancelled

Due to the disorder, the concert, which was the third of three sold-out shows at the Academy by the Nigerian singer, was cancelled midway. “The reason we have to stop the show is because they have breached the doors. You’ve got 3,000 people who have broken the doors outside and because of security the police have asked us to close the show,” announced the show’s organizers to the fans at the venue who responded with boos.

Social media footage shows a large crowd building up outside the venue, with one person claiming on Twitter that more than 1,000 people had turned up without tickets. In the footage, the crowd can be seen stretching from the road outside to the venue doors, with people screaming, shouting and struggling.

Police investigation underway

The Metropolitan Police gold commander Ade Adelekan described the incident as “extremely distressing”. “This is an extremely upsetting incident which has left four people critically ill in hospital,” he said. “My thoughts and prayers are with them and their families.”

Adelekan also said that a police investigation has been launched and that “it will be as thorough and as forensic as necessary to establish exactly what happened last night.” “The scene will be examined by specialist officers, CCTV will be viewed, every witness that we can make contact with will be spoken to and all other lines of enquiry will be followed. Officers are remaining in the area to provide reassurance to the local community in and around Brixton.”

While no arrests have taken place, cordons remain in place at the O2 Academy.

“I am aware of videos being shared on social media. I would ask people to be sensible about what they share, and not to post material that will be upsetting to those affected by this incident,” Adelekan added.  “Where force has been used by police officers, those officers know they have to be accountable for their actions. The Met’s Directorate of Professional Standards will view all material, including body worn video footage from the officers at the scene.”

He urged witnesses and anyone with mobile phone footage that may assist the investigation to contact police. The O2 Academy, which has a standing capacity of almost 5,000 people, is opposite Brixton police station, partly explaining the swift response on Thursday night.

Before the gig, Asake had posted on Twitter asking fans not to turn up to the venue and try to gain entry unless they had tickets. As at the time of writing this article, the singer had yet to publish a statement regarding the turn of events at the concert.