A magistrate court sitting in Ilorin has on Wednesday granted bail to Salihu Ayatullahi, the Editor-in-Chief of The Informant247, and Adisa-Jaji Azeez, the Managing Director.
WikkiTimes had earlier reported that Police in Kwara on Monday detained the two investigative journalists after a police invitation they honoured but detained on arrival.
The Police charged the defendants before Magistrate Monisola Kamson on Wednesday on the alleged offences of criminal conspiracy, cyberstalking and injurious falsehood contrary to sections 27(1) B, 24(1)(B) of the cybercrime (prohibition and prevention) act, 2015 and section 393 of the penal code.
The police initially detain Ayatullahi and Adisa-Jaji at the police headquarters in Ilorin and subsequently charged them to court on Wednesday to face trial.
The defendants’ counsel, Barrister AJ Edun, requested the court to grant his clients bail on lenient terms, arguing that they had honoured the invitation therefore qualified for bail accordingly.
In response, the prosecutor, Abdullah Sanni, cited a motion exparte linked to the charges against the defendants, expressing concern that releasing them on bail could hinder ongoing police efforts to apprehend other suspects who are currently at large.
Magistrate Monisola Kamson, presiding over the case, granted bail to the duo, setting the bail amount at N250,000 each, with two sureties residing within the court’s jurisdiction. The magistrate adjourned the case until the 13th of the current month.
Meanwhile, the chief editor and managing editor of The Informant247 had previously petitioned the Federal High Court, seeking protection of their constitutional rights to press freedom and personal liberty.
The court document with filed as Case No. FHC/IL/C5/14/2024, has been served on the Nigerian Police, Kwara State Command, with the Commissioner of Police Kwara State, CP Victor Olaiya, the OC in Charge of Anti-Kidnapping and Anti-Cultism Section, and the Rector of Kwara State Polytechnics Ilorin named as the first, second, and third respondents, respectively.
The journalists’ arraignment stems from an investigative report published by The Informant247 on February 2, 2024, alleging financial mismanagement by the Rector of Kwara Polytechnic, Engr. Abdul Jimoh, and highlighting concerns over incomplete projects.
WikkiTimes reports that during Nigeria’s presidential and federal elections, at least 14 journalists faced detentions, attacks, or harassment, as reported by the CPJ.
This included the detention of WikkiTimes Publisher Haruna Mohammed Salisu, underscoring the risks faced by media workers covering politically sensitive events.
Approximately 160 journalists encountered various forms of attacks in Nigeria in just two years, as tracked through the Press Attack Tracker. The Punch Newspapers further detailed that in 2022 alone, 66 Nigerian journalists and three media houses faced various forms of attack, including harassment and unlawful arrest.
These incidents have raised alarms among press freedom advocates, who argue that such actions not only violate the rights of individual journalists but also undermine the fundamental principles of democracy by restricting the free flow of information and silencing critical voices.