Lai Mohammed
Lai Mohammed

After 17 days in detention, Journalist charged for insulting Lai Mohammed on WhatsApp

NEWS DIGEST – After 17 days in detention,  freelance broadcaster, Rotimi Jolayemi, who was allegedly arrested for criticising Lai Mohammed, minister of information, has been charged with “causing annoyance” towards the minister, Punch Newspaper reports

Jolayemi, known as “Oba Akewi”, is the vice-chairman Freelance and Independent Radio Broadcasters Association of Nigeria (FIBAN), Osun state chapter.

He had recorded an eight-minute audio critical of the minister and released it via WhatsApp.

After this, the police arrested him and he spent weeks in detention before he was charged to court.

The police said the act was in contravention of section 24(1)(b) of the cybercrimes act 2015.

“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,” the charge read.

The suit marked FHC/ABJ/CB/104/2020 was filed at the federal high court in Abuja.

Olu Olugbade, FIBAN chairman, had earlier told The Cable Newspaper that Mohammed listened to Jolayemi’s audio and tagged it hate speech.

He said before the broadcaster was arrested, his wife and brothers were traced in Kwara where they lived and were detained by the police.

“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 had 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 his organisation has made effort in appealing to the minister but its appeal fell on deaf ears.

He said Jolayemi is a law-abiding citizen and would not set out to hurt the minister. He also raised concerns over the health condition of the detained broadcaster.

“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,” he had said.

Groups such as the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR) have since called for the release of the journalist.