MRA condemns arrest, detention of journalist in Ilorin

The Media Rights Agenda (MRA) has condemned the arrest and detention of Ilorin-based broadcast journalist, Dare Akogun, by the Kwara State Command of the Nigeria Police Force.

Akogun was arrested yesterday October 13, over a corruption allegation he reportedly made against an official of the State Government.

In a statement issued by its Director of Programmes, Ayode Longe, MRA called on the Inspector-General of Police Usman Alkali Baba to put an end to the incessant use of police officers to shield politicians, government officials and other powerful individuals.

The media organisation noted that politicians use police to harass or intimidate journalists and media organisations reporting on their activities.

The ICIR had reported how the Kwara State Police Command detained Dare Akogun, and his brother Rasheed, on Thursday.

According to the report, the detention came after a petition to the Commissioner of Police Tuesday Assayomo by Rafiu Ajakaye, who is the Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to the Kwara state governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq.

According to the Head of News and Current Affairs, Sobi FM, Adebayo Abubakar, Dare’s colleague, the petition resulted from an altercation between both brothers and the CPS.

According to the statement released by MRA, Akogun was invited by the Police via a letter on October 7, 2022, to meet with the Deputy Commissioner of Police in the Criminal Investigation Department of the Kwara State Command of the Nigeria Police, Steve Yabanet, on October 13, 2022 at 11:00 am.

“The letter claimed that the office was investigating cases of inciting disturbance, injurious falsehood and criminal defamation against Mr. Akogun but said the invitation for him to report at the office was “just a fact-finding invitation”.

“However, when Mr. Akogun honoured the invitation on October 13, he was asked by the Deputy Police Commissioner to write a letter of apology to the Chief Press Secretary to the State Governor, Mr. Rafiu Ajakaye, who had petitioned the State Police Command asking it to investigate and prosecute Mr. Abdulrasheed Akogun and Mr. Dare Akogun for alleged criminal defamation against him.”

According to MRA, the spokesman of the governor had claimed in the petition that the two brothers committed the offence through their WhatsApp posts on September 30, 2022 in which they accused him of facilitating the use of over N15 million in public funds to prosecute the last chairmanship election of the state council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ).

“Without ascertaining the veracity or otherwise of the report, when Mr. Akogun arrived at the station, accompanied by his lawyer, Mr. Taiwo Olaitan, the Deputy Police Commissioner asked him to write the letter of apology to the Chief Press Secretary. Mr. Akogun, however, declined on the ground that it would amount to admitting to the charge of injurious falsehood and criminal defamation, whereupon the Deputy Police Commissioner ordered that he should be detained.

Speaking on the unlawful position of the deputy police commissioner, MRA called on the Inspector-General of Police to immediately call his officers to order and advise them to desist from making themselves tools in the hands of the rich and powerful.

MRA also called for the immediate and unconditional release of Akogun, warning that if this was not done within 24 hours, it would take legal action to protect and enforce his fundamental rights and seek substantial damages for the oppressive violation of his rights.

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