Two weeks after his arrest by the police in Kebbi, The Sun’s correspondent in the state, Olarenwaju Lawal, has remained in prison despite efforts to secure his release. His case comes up today at Magistrate’s Court 1, Birnin-Kebbi, the state capital.
Lawal was arrested on December 10, 2019, by the police and hurriedly arraigned in court without a defence lawyer. He was clamped in prison on the orders of Ghali Muhammad of Magistrate’s Court 1, Birnin Kebbi.
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.
The report, it was gathered, offended some officials of the Kebbi State government and 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.
After interrogating the reporter on the said story, the police subsequently arraigned him in Birnin-Kebbi, where he was charged with a one-count charge of disseminating wrongful information.
Olarenwaju, who was taken to court without legal representative, pleaded not guilty to the charge and was remanded in prison till last Monday, after the police asked for a week to conclude investigation.
Efforts to secure Lawal’s release after one week were frustrated by the police and Kebbi State government, who employed delay tactics. Last week Monday, Lawal’s application for bail was deferred to Wednesday of the same week. On the appointed day, he was neither brought to court nor granted bail.
The Kebbi State Police Command claimed the case file had been handed to the Kebbi State Ministry of Justice, which was yet to act and, therefore, delayed the reporter’s bail.
As the case comes up today, the leadership of the Nigeria Union of Journalists has condemned the reporter’s incarceration.