May 23, 2020
Police have charged a journalist, Rotimi Jolayemi, for allegedly inciting the public against the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed.
Also known as Oba Akewi, Mr Jolayemi is the Vice-Chairman, Freelance and Independent Broadcasters Association of Nigeria, Osun State chapter.
The police, in a charge sheet marked, FHC/ABJ/CB/104/2020, claimed that Jolayemi on April 14, 2020, shared an audio file in a WhatsApp group that was critical of the minister and that the file went viral, The Punch reports on Saturday.
The charge comes 17 days after the journalist was detained by the Federal Investigation Bureau of the Nigeria Police Force, Abuja.
Jolayemi’s action, the police said in the charge sheet signed by the prosecuting counsel, Joseph Offor, contravened Section 24(1)(b) of the Cybercrimes Act 2015.
The charge read, “That you, Jolayemi Oba Akewi, male, aged 43 years on or about the 14th day of April 2020 at Osolo Compound EKan Nla, Kwara State, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court did send audio message through your android phone device to a group Whatsapp platform known as ‘Ekan Sons and Daughters’ and which went viral immediately after it was posted for the purpose of causing annoyance, insult, hatred and ill will to the current Hon. Minister of Information and Culture, Federal Republic of Nigeria, Alhaji Lai Mohammed and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 24(1)(b) of the Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention etc) Act 2015.”
Speaking on his arrest and detention, the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR) said on Monday that Jolayemi was being held ‘illegally’ for reciting a poem on air which was critical of the minister.
“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 group said.
“Furthermore, that even since Mr Jolayemi surrendered himself to the police headquarters at Ilorin, Kwara State on May 6, 2020, he is still being held till date, 12 days later, without being charged to court or granted bail.”
Detaining the journalist’s relatives because of his refusal to show up, the CDHR said, 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 minister’s spokesman, Segun Adeyemi, had at the time denied the allegation.