Journalist Arrested for Insulting Lai Mohammed on WhatsApp

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A freelance journalist, Rotimi Jolayemi has been arrested for Insulting Minister of information and culture, Lai Mohammed via a WhatsApp broadcast.

According to a report by Punch Newspaper, the journalist was arrested and charged with causing annoyance towards the Minister.

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Popularly known as Oba Akewi, Rotimi Jolayemi is the vice chairman, Freelance and Independent Radio Broadcasters Association of Nigeria (FIBAN), Osun State chapter.

The freelance journalist had made an eight minute long audio criticizing Lai Mohammed which he spread via WhatsApp broadcast messages.

He was arrested by the police shortly after, spending weeks in detention before being finally charged to court for what the police said was a violation of section 24(1)(b) of the 2015 cyber crimes act.

The charge sheet against the journalist 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.”

According to the chairman of FIBAN, Olu Olugbade, Lai Mohammed tagged the WhatsApp audio as hate speech and had the police arrest the wife and brother of the journalist in Kwara State.

“Comrade Jolayemi later showed up at the police headquarters in Ilorin and submitted himself for investigation. He was then moved to Abuja and since we’ve not been allowed access to him,” Olugbade said.

“Every time we went there with our lawyers, they would turn us back. We asked that he be charged but the police say they don’t have anything to use against him yet.”

Olugbade said further that several appeals had been made to Lai Mohammed to drop the matter but the Minister has stubbornly refused.

According to the association chairman, the arrested journalist is a a law abiding citizen and there are fears for his health in police custody.

Jolayemi’s health can’t cope with this kind of detention and I’m afraid if he’s not freed on time, things might get worse.”

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