Lai Mohammed under fire over detention of journalist

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Rights groups have criticised the continued detention of journalist Rotimi Jolayemi, aka Oba Akewi, who was arrested by the police for allegedly inciting “annoyance” and “hatred” against information minister, Lai Mohammed. Committee for the Defence of Human Rights called Jolayemi’s detention by the Nigeria Police Force, Abuja,  “illegal”.

He only recited a poem on air which was critical of the minister, it said. The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) also condemned the arrest, noting that it is only possible “when there is widespread official impunity and anarchy.”

He only recited a poem on air which was critical of the minister, it said. The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) also condemned the arrest, noting that it is only possible “when there is widespread official impunity and anarchy.”

Kindly subscribe here Jolayemi surrendered himself to the police headquarters at Ilorin, Kwara state on May 6, 2020. After 17 days in detention, he was charged in Abuja for inciting “annoyance” and “hatred” against information minister Lai Mohammed. Jolayemi is the vice chairman Osun state chapter of Freelance and Independent Broadcasters Association of Nigeria Police alleged that on April 14 he shared an audio file on WhatsApp and charged him for contravening Section 24(1)(b) of the Cybercrimes Act 2015, according to the charge sheet marked FHC/ABJ/CB/104/2020.

Prosecuting Counsel, Joseph Offor, signed the charge sheet, which alleged the journalist sent the audio file to a WhatsApp group named “Ekan Sons and Daughters” The message went viral, and was posted “for the purpose of causing annoyance, insult, hatred and ill will to the current Hon. Minister of Information and Culture … Lai Mohammed,” according to the charges.

The information ministry has declined any comment. Its press secretary, Joe Mutah said, “It is not everything that the minister will react to.” Illegal detention and rights defence CDHR in a statement by its National President, Dr. Osagie Obayuwana, said that when the journalist failed to turn himself in, his wife, Dorcas Jolayemi; and his brothers – John Jolayemi and Joseph Jolayemi – were all detained in Kwara State. “It is worrisome that Alhaji Lai Mohammed would have a hand in the arrest of the wife of Mr. Jolayemi, Mrs. Dorcas Jolayemi, and two of his brothers who were kept in detention for eight days, nine days and two days respectively as hostages, while the journalist, Mr. Rotimi Jolayemi was being sought,” the CDHR president, Osagie Obayuwana, said in a statement. The CDHR said detaining the journalist’s relatives because of his refusal to show up was in violation of Section 7 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, which forbids hostage-taking and the arrest of any person in place of another.

The Force Public Relations Officer, Mr. Frank Mba, did not respond to calls. Watching human rights HURIWA called on the presidency to take steps to stem a rising tide of “horrendous violations of the freedoms of expression and information”. “These feudalistic tendencies violate everything that is associated with constitutional democracy and the Rule of law and must therefore not be swept under the carpet by President Muhammadu Buhari if he truly wants any form of legacies to be bequeathed by his administration at the end of his final four-year tenure in 2023,” said HURIWA coordinator Emmanuel Onwubiko. “HURIWA hereby calls on President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to order the immediate arrest of the minister of information and culture, Lai Mohammed and the Kwara State Commissioner of Police for reportedly whisking away innocent persons and detaining them only because their brother was alleged to have read a poem considered offensive by the minister.

“We demand the immediate release of the journalist Jolayemi Rotimi and the payment of compensation for the arbitrary detention and illegal arrests of the Journalist and his siblings and biological Mother on the illegal order of the minister of Information and Culture Alhaji Lai Mohammed, ” Onwubiko said. SSS detention Also, the organisation condemned the continuous detention of the Akwa Ibom based journalist, Kufre Carter by the State Security Services despite Court Order granting the detained journalist bail. HURIWA, similarly condemned the continuous detention of the Abia State lawyer Emperor Ogbonna by the Police/SSS on the orders of Governor Of Abia State. He recalled that the Carter was arrested on 27 April 2020 for allegedly criticizing the Commissioner for Health in the state, Dominic Ukpong. The SSS has refused to release Kufre Carter, a sports journalist based in Akwa Ibom State, despite a court order from the state’s Magistrate Court. He, therefore, called for the immediate and unconditional releases of the detained journalist in Akwa Ibom and the lawyer detained in Abia.