THE Kubwa Chief Magistrate’s Court in Abuja has adjourned the trial of Samuel Ogundipe, a journalist with Premium Times, who was charged with stealing classified government documents.
Ogundipe was arrested on August following the publication of a story he authored about the report submitted to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo (then Acting President) by the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Ibrahim Idris over the investigation of the former Director General of the Department of State Services (DSS).
The report was based on the findings of the police regarding the blockade of the National Assembly premises by men of DSS on August 7.
Ogundipe was invited to the Police Headquarters and was detained after he allegedly refused to reveal his source. This led to a massive protest by members of the media community, civil society groups, and ordinary citizens, but the police used tear gas to disperse the protesters.
Ogundipe was subsequently charged to court and was granted bail in the sum of N500,000. The case was adjourned to November 7 for hearing.
However, when Ogundipe and his counsel got to court on Wednesday, they learnt that the case has been adjourned to January 30, 2019, as the Magistrate, Abdulwahab Mohammed, was said to be attending to an urgent matter at the Federal High Court, Abuja.
The court clerk also said that the prosecutor had sought for an adjournment because he was attending to another case elsewhere.
Ogundipe’s case is just one out of the several instances where security officials detain journalists for no other reason but carrying out their lawful responsibilities, only to charge them to court on trumped-up charges after a public outcry.
Another example is Jones Abiri, a journalists based in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, who was arrested and detained by the DSS for over two years on allegations of terrorism.
Abiri, who was arrested in July 2016, was eventually charged to court in 2018, having spent two years in detention. He was arraigned before a magistrate court in Wuse District of Abuja, a court that has no jurisdiction to entertain terrorism charges.
He has since been released on bail.