Court remands two journalists in Kwara over petition by governor’s spokesman

A Magistrate Court in Ilorin, Kwara State capital, on Friday remanded two journalists at the Oke-Kura correctional facility.

The journalists, Sobi FM’s Dare Akogun and Fresh Insight TV’s Abdulrasheed Akogun were remanded till October 19, the date of the next court hearing.

The journalists, both brothers, had been detained by the state’s Commissioner of Police (CP) Tuesday Assayomo following a petition by Rafiu Ajakaye, Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq.

Ajakaye alleged that Abdulrasheed posted a comment on a WhatsApp group, accusing him of corruption and utilising public funds to the tune of N15 million naira to prosecute a Nigerian Union of Journalist (NUJ) election in the state.

Assayomo, who received the petition ordered the brothers to tender a written apology to the CPS or be taken to court.

The brothers chose to appear in court, prompting Assayomo to order their detention.

Before the hearing began on Friday, journalists in the state had embarked on a peaceful protest at the state police command headquarters against the detention of the two journalists.

The police, however, clamped down on the protesters, and according to the Head, Media and Current Affairs at Sobi FM Adebayo Abubakar, some journalists were detained.






     

     

    “I gathered that two journalists have been beaten up and dragged into the cell, after having been tear-gassed,” Abubakar told The ICIR.

    Meanwhile, a national alliance of media and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) Coalition for Whistleblowers Protection and Press Freedom (CWPPF) condemned the detention of the journalists in a statement on Friday.

    “It is worthy of note that the conflict between press freedom in law and practice remains evident in Nigeria, where journalists are tagged as ‘extremists’, criminalized and detained, using legal systems to stifle them whenever they pry into the prevailing bad governance.

    “No other industry has been confronted with such a degree of official antagonism; and the effect is felt not only by journalists but also by their audiences; the public that deserves the right to know and to access information,” the statement said.

    Ijeoma Opara is a journalist with The ICIR. Reach her via [email protected] or @ije_le on Twitter.

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