© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
Again, DSS arrests journalist for allegedly publishing articles critising Buhari, Tinubu
…Lawyer says DSS action unnecessary
A recent graduate from the Gateway Polytechnic located in Sapaade, Ogun State Ayoola Babalola has been arrested by the officials of the State Security Service (SSS) for allegedly publishing contents deemed critical of President Muhammadu Buhari, APC Leader Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the Economic Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC).
Babalola arrest was made known by Human Right Lawyer, Inibehe Effiong in a series of tweets on micro-blogging site, Twitter on Saturday Morning.
Effiong said he was arrested on Thursday in Abeokuta by operatives of the SSS and taken before a Magistrate Court on Friday.
Effiong in an interview with The ICIR said the DSS doesn’t have any case against his client.
According to him, I haven’t seen anything in the article he wrote or published to warrant the actions they have taken.
He said, “He was admitted to bail when he appeared in court and we will be there on the next adjourned date, which is on the 27th of January, 2020.
“They don’t have any case against him. The point is I am aware they have been on his matter for sometimes, trailing. I think they are just overreacting for nothing. Frankly speaking and they will not get away with this because whether the case is dropped or not, we will have to seek redress.
“It is actively unnecessary to arrest him as he hasn’t committed any crime. I haven’t seen anything in the article he wrote or published to warrant the actions they have taken.”
Effiong tweets read, “Late on Friday, I was alerted that my client Mr. Ayoola Babalola, a courageous student activist and young journalist, was arrested and charged to court for allegedly publishing certain articles in a Campus Newspaper called GAPOSA Trumpet in which he served as the Editor.
“Babalola recently graduated from the Gateway Polytechnic located in Sapaade, Ogun State, where he read Mass Communication.
“The said articles which were deemed critical of President Buhari, APC Leader, Sen. Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the EFCC also led to the dismissal of a lecturer of Gateway Polytechnic who served as the Producer of the campus newspaper.
“He was arrested on Thursday in Abeokuta by the State Security Service (SSS) and taken before a Magistrate Court on Friday.
“His appeal to the SSS for him to be allowed to contact me as his counsel was rebuffed.
“Mr. Babalola was only able to contact me through a third party from the Ibara Maximum Prison in Abeokuta where he was remanded by the court.
“I understand that he was arraigned on a six-count charge bothering on alleged incitement, conduct likely to cause a breach of the peace and so on for allegedly publishing critical articles against President Buhari.
“The said articles also related to the travails of the leader of the RevolutionNow movement, Mr Omoyele Sowore, and student activist, Comrade Femi Adeyeye.
“Before his secret arrest and arraignment, Babalola briefed me over repressive actions which he believed Gateway Polytechnic may likely take against him over the articles.
“Mr. Babalola also intimated me that the SSS was possibly trailing him because of the said articles.
“I condemn this despotic and needless actions by the SSS. It is a shame that at a time the country is battling serious security challenges, the SSS rather than protect Nigeria is paranoid about any form of criticism against the Buhari regime.
“The SSS has continued to expose the country to public and international ridicule over its flagrant violation of the rights of Nigerians and shameless disregard for the rule of law and democratic ethos.
“The SSS will not be allowed to turn Nigeria into a police state. We will face them squarely in court. All legal options will be explored to secure the release of Babalola and safeguard his legal and constitutional rights. Tyranny will not win.”
Babalola joins a growing list of number of Journalists brutalise and arrested in the course of their work by the administration of Muhammadu Buhari.
The ICIR had in a report titled, “Violation of court orders, the arrest of journalists, other anti-democratic actions of Buhari administration”, showed that the Federal Government under President Buhari, several times, has demonstrated it has no regard for such provisions.
In the five years of the Buhari administration, journalists have been arrested and detained without trial, protests have been met with force by the government agents, voices of dissents have been stifled by the government, and court orders, ignored.
Critics have upbraided him for banning protests while calling attention to how he led civil disobedience before the 2015 elections against the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
While the constitution is clear about the role of the press and journalists in holding government accountable, the law also spells out clearly the duties, rights and obligations of the citizens in a democratic setting. But the government disregards this rights and privileges of Nigerians from time to time.
Also, AMNESTY International, a global human rights non-governmental organisation in a 2019 report tagged “ENDANGERED VOICES” which was released on Monday, 14th of October, 2019 announced that journalists in Nigeria are increasingly becoming exposed to escalated attacks from Nigerian authorities.
The report also chronicled several incidents involving Nigerian journalists where they were intimidated, harassed and arbitrarily arrested by Nigerian authorities for expressing critical views on issues of governance.