Police spokesperson Adejobi faces backlash for ‘cyberbullying’ Nigerian who commented on IGPs’ photo

THE Nigeria Police Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO), Olumuyiwa Adejobi, is facing criticism over a prosecution threat issued at a Nigerian who expressed discontent with the level of corruption in the police institution.

The incident, which generated discussions about the trend of impunity and lack of accountability in the police, occurred when @HommiesDrey, the Nigerian’s social media handle on X, left a comment on a photo posted by the Adejobi on Saturday, May 4.

“Living and late Criminals from the most corrupt civil organisation in the entire multiverse,” @hommiesdrey wrote while reacting to the post made by the FPRO.

But Adejobi, who has refused to speak on the illegal and unjustly detention of a Nigerian journalist, Daniel Ojukwu, despite several calls from Nigerians and Civil society organisations (CSOs), resorted to what some lawyers tagged as ‘cyberbullying’.

He said, “You will repeat it with evidence soon. It’s a matter of time.”

He continued in another post, “He needs to prove that all the past IGPs are corrupt or criminals. It’s a simple thing. He should know that the only court that has jurisdiction over the Cybercrime Prohibition Act (offences) is the Federal High Court.”

However, many Nigerians expressed concerns about the growing trend of silencing dissenting voices and the stifling of free speech in the country.

Some of them also described Adejobi’s response as an act of cyberbullying, calling on him to devise means of tracking down bandits and terrorists instead of issuing a threat to a civilian.

While reacting to Adejobi’s a human rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong on Sunday, May 5, accused him of using an amended section of the Cybercrimes Act to threaten a citizen over a social media post.

Inibehe, who described the police spokesperson’s comment as disgraceful and misleading, said the provisions of Section 24 of the Cybercrimes (Prevention and Prohibition) Act, 2015, that the police has been using to harass Nigerians have been repealed by the National Assembly and replaced with a radically different and new provision.

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“The amended Act was assented to by President (Bola) Tinubu in February 2024. Under the new Act, posts which are injurious to a person’s reputation are no longer a crime. The new Act limits the offence of cyberstalking to messages sent using a computer which are: (a) pornographic; (b) a threat to the life of another; or (c) likely to lead to a breakdown of law and order.

He argued  that the post made in this specific case by this individual is neither pornographic, life threatening nor capable of leading to a breakdown of law and order.

“By virtue of Section 36(12) of the 1999 Constitution, an act or omission is only an offence if it so defined expressly in a written law. Nigerians should ignore the Force PRO.”

“Calling someone a criminal is not a crime under the new Section 24 of the Cybercrimes Act (as amended). Insult is not a crime under the Act,”he added.

He pointed out that the FPRO is constantly ruining the image of the police further with his lack of professionalism and disdain for the rights of citizens rather than focus on ways of salvaging the ‘bastardised image’

Also, another human rights lawyer, Ridwan Oke, wrote, “This is cyberbullying, and you should be arrested for this. You’re threatening a citizen, knowing fully well that even if he has evidence, you can still overpower him. @PoliceNG , please look into this.

This was not the first time Adejobi threatened Nigerians or made uncountable statements for someone who should be the police force’s image maker.

The ICIR has captured several instances in which police spokespersons at various levels made controversial statements that threaten to further widen the gap and breed resentment

Although the International Journal of Police Science and Management disclosed that public perception of police spokespersons reflects people’s impression of the Force as a whole, many Nigerians have different perceptions of police spokespersons as they have continued to stir reactions with their uncouth comments.

Is Nigerian Police Corrupt?

The Nigerian police force, including the IGPs, over the years, has faced several allegations of corruption bordering on embezzling of funds, bribery, and human rights violations, among others, with at least one being prosecuted.

The ICIR reports that an ex IGP Tafa Balogun, was convicted in 2005 on eight charges of corruption. 

According to reports, allegations of massive corruption scale were reported under Balogun, with the former IGP accused of pocketing public funds and taking bribes from politicians and criminals.




     

     

    According to the charges filed by the EFCC, he was accused of misappropriating funds from the NPF between 2000 and 2005 and was arraigned alongside seven companies alleged to have helped him commit the crime.

    In a recent investigation by The ICIR, some officers of Nigeria Police Mortgage Bank and Nigeria Police Force, including two former Inspector Generals of Police and a contractor, were reported to have been enmeshed in allegations of corruption involving forgery, bribery, and violation of Nigerian laws in an alleged illegal sale of Police landed property designated for the construction of barracks in Abuja.

    In 2021, The United States (US) accused Nigerian security agencies, including the police, of corruption, human rights violations and impunity.

    This accusation was made in the 2021 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices released by the US Department of State on Wednesday.

    Usman Mustapha is a solution journalist with International Centre for Investigative Reporting. You can easily reach him via: [email protected]. He tweets @UsmanMustapha_M

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