It is no doubt a case of renewed assault on Journalists in Nigeria as Lawal who was arrested on December 10, 2019, by the police and hurriedly arraigned in court without a defence lawyer was clamped in prison on the orders of Ghali Muhammad of Magistrate’s Court 1, Birnin Kebbi.
While Lawal of The SUN, is spending the 12th Day In Custody, Kebbi Govt, another journalist Mr Rabiu Omaku, was assaulted by NSCDC, Nasarawa State for snapping list of pensioners placed on a notice board for use in his story.
The international community is hereby informed of the renewed assault on Nigerian Journalists by Nigerian Politicians and Security operatives.
It is no longer news that Governor Abubakar Atiku Bagudu led administration in Kebbi State, has made good his resolve to put Olarewaju Lawal in prison for the period of Christman, a period when he is supposed to be with his family bck in his home state, Kwara.
No matter how it is viewed, there is evident persecution spelt out in the matter on ground because ordinarily, with the intervention of NUJ President and others, there is reason The SUN reporter is still being kept behind bars.
NATIONAL NEWSBEAM reports that the police, on the instructions of the Kebbi State government, arrested Lawal over an online publication about the abduction of a Chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state.
It was gathered that the report got on the nerves of some powerful officials of the Kebbi State government, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state, prompting them to contact the Acting Commissioner of Police in the state, who ordered Lawal’s arrest while he was on an official engagement.
The police had accused the reporter of publishing a false report, adding also that he neither spoke to their spokesperson in the state, DSP Danjuma Poss, nor to any official of the police in the state over the alleged kidnap incident before going to press.
After interrogating the reporter on the said story, the police subsequently arraigned him before a magistrates’ court in Birnin-Kebbi, the state capital, where he was charged with a one-count charge of disseminating wrongful information.
Olarenwaju, who was taken to court without a legal representative, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge, and is still remanded in prison as at the time of filling this report.
Since the incarceration of the reporter, the police and the Kebbi State government have shown deliberate efforts at frustrating his release on bail.
Efforts made by a lawyer engaged by the Kebbi State chapter of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) to secure Lawal’s bail have proved abortive. The promise that bail would be granted last Monday was not fulfilled.
Also, yesterday, the second promise of granting the reporter bail was not fulfilled, as he was not even brought to court.
When contacted, the NUJ national president, Mr. Chris Isiguzo, expressed surprise that the reporter was still being held after he spoke to the police high command and officials of the Kebbi State government, who promised that application for bail in last Monday’s court sitting would not be opposed.
Meanwhile, the police have washed their hands off the case, claiming that the case file was with the Kebbi State Ministry of Justice, while the state government is not making efforts to ensure bail is granted.
Sources said the state government was employing delay tactics to keep the reporter in prison throughout Christmas and New Year celebrations.
In a related development Nasrawa State chapter of The NUJ informed that a correspondent with Universal Reporters, an online medium, Mr Rabiu Omaku, had gone to the bureau and was taking photograph of the list of pensioners pasted on the notice board for a report when he was attacked by the NSCDC officials.
The union alleged that other newsmen, who tried to intervene in the matter, were also assaulted.
The Nasarawa State Chapter of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) has directed all its members to boycott all activities of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and the Government.
Mr Dogga Shamma, Council Chairman and Mr Suleiman Abubakar, Chairman of the Correspondents’ Chapel of NUJ, gave the directive on Friday in Lafia.
According to the leaders, the directive is as a result of the expiration of the 24-hour ultimatum given to the state government to act on the assault on two journalists in the state.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that on Dec. 14, operatives of the NSCDC attached to the Nasarawa State Pensions Bureau, attacked two reporters in Lafia, the state capital.
With these developments, the International Press Council must know that Nigerian Journalists have become endangered species and need be protected from the claws of ungentlemanly citizens who break laws because they want to defend individual rights. This is the only country where rule of law can be compromised because of security consideration.