Nigeria’s minister, Lai Mohammed orders arrest of journalist over poem read on radio

Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed has ordered the arrest and detention of a Nigerian journalist, Rotimi Jolayemi also known as Oba Akewi over a poem read live during a radio programme.

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Prior to Oba Akewi turning himself in to the Nigerian Police, the minister had ordered the arrest of his wife, Mrs Dorcas Jolayemi, and two brothers of the media practitioner, John and Joseph who were all locked up behind bars for eight, nine and two days respectively.

According to Sahara Reporters, since the journalist turned himself in to the Police Headquarters in Ilorin, Kwara State, on May 6, 2020, he has not been charged to court or granted bail, instead being subjected to inhuman treatment at the orders of the Minister of Information.

Dr Osagie Obayuwana, while condemning the situation in a statement on Monday said that the detention of Jolayemi was unlawful and detestable.

The statement partly reads,

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“The Committee for the Defence of Human Rights is alarmed at the continued detention of a journalist, Mr Rotimi Jolayemi, said to have been arrested at the instance of Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, on account of a poem read over the radio considered critical of the minister.

“It is worrisome that Alhaji Lai Mohammed will have a hand in the arrest of wife of the journalist, Mrs Dorcas Jolayemi, and two of his brothers, John Olalere Jolayemi and Joseph Toba Jolayemi, who were kept in detention for eight, nine and two days respectively while the journalist was being sought. 

“Furthermore, that even since Mr Jolayemi surrendered himself to the Police Headquarters in Ilorin, Kwara State, on May 6, 2020, he is still being held till date without being charged to court or granted bail. 

“The CDHR condemns in totality the violation of rights of Mr Jolayemi’s wife and brothers whose liberty were taken away from them for no other reason than being relations of Mr Jolayemi.

“The continued detention of Mr Jolayemi by the police at the instance of Alhaji Lai Mohammed is tantamount to punishing a citizen for the expression of his opinion. This is not justifiable in our Nigeria of today. 

“We demand the immediate release of Mr Jolayemi, a public apology to him, his wife and brothers and payment of compensation to all four of them.”

 However, the Media aide to the minister, Mr Adeleye, when contacted by SaharaReporters, said, “The Hon Minister of Information and Culture did not order the arrest of anyone. Kindly direct your inquiry to the appropriate authorities.”

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