NUJ Intervenes In Detention Of Journalist

Yomi Olomofe, Publisher Prime Magazine
Yomi Olomofe, Publisher Prime Magazine

The Nigerian Union of Journalists, NUJ, has intervened in the matter of the continuing detention of a journalist, Yomi Olomofe, who was allegedly beaten last year while investigating a smuggling ring.

The NUJ President, Waheed Odusile, said on Friday morning that he had briefed the Inspector General of Police, IGP, Solomon Arase, about the journalist’s continued detention by the police in Lagos and that the police chief had promised to effect his release.

The Committee to Protect Journalists had Thursday announced Olomofe’s detention and demanded his immediate release.

Olomofe, publisher of Prime Magazine, the CPJ said in a statement, was detained by the police in Lagos on Thursday “after men he had accused of severely beating him in June 2015 alleged the publisher had assaulted and attempted to extort money from them.”

From all indications, Olomofe’s travail is related to an investigation he is carrying out about the involvement of officials of the Nigerian Customs Service in smuggling at the Seme border.

According to the CPJ, Olomofe and a colleague, McDominic Nkpemenyie, Lagos correspondent Tide Newspaper, were attacked on June 25, 2015 by about 15 men while ”investigating allegations that customs officers at Seme, on Nigeria’s border with Benin, were complicit in smuggling.”

Olomofe alleged that the men hit him “on his face and body with their fists and sticks until he lost consciousness.”

“In a June 30, 2015, complaint to the Lagos state police commissioner, and a July 1, 2015, complaint to the inspector general of police, Olomofe identified his attackers and customs officers who had not intervened to stop the attack. Police have not charged anyone for assaulting the journalists,” the CPJ quotes the journalist and his lawyer, Akin Osunsusi, as saying.

However, the table turned against the journalist in October 2015 when the men he accused of launching the attack on him lodged a complaint with the police alleging that he attempted to extort money from them.

“He (Olomofe) denied the accusations, and he and his lawyer said the first they had heard of them was today, after his arrest. It was unclear whether the publisher was formally charged with a crime,” the CPJ stated.

Reacting to the incident, CPJ’s West African Representative, Peter Nkanga said that arresting Olomofe for beating the men had earlier accused of beating him “is nothing short of obscene.”

“Rather than blaming the messenger, police should energetically pursue those responsible for the crime,” he observed.

The CPJ said that it had learnt from a police officer at the Lagos State Criminal Investigation Department, SCID, that the customs men who allegedly witnessed the beating of the journalists without intervening had been invited but refused to honour the invitation.

“Being service officers, I cannot just arrest them,” the policeman is quoted telling the CPJ.



    The journalist’s advocacy group also quoted one of the customs officers as saying that there was nothing he could do because “the assailants were too “rowdy.”

    ON Thursday night, the chairman of the Lagos State chapter of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, Deji Elumoye has told the CPJ that police in Alagbon had refused to grant Olomofe bail and that the union’s representatives were not allowed to see him in custody.

    However, when our reporter spoke with Nkanga on Friday morning, he said that he was aware that efforts were being made to release the detained publisher “before noon today.”

    The CPJ representative, however, insists that beyond releasing the publisher, the police authorities should investigate his original complaint as well as the circumstances that to his arrest and detention based on allegations made by persons he had accused of beating him.



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