The Media Rights Agenda (MRA) has condemned the arrest and detention of Ilorin-based broadcast journalist, Dare Akogun by the Kwara State Police Command.
Akogun was arrested yesterday in an effort to coerce him to retract an allegation of corruption he reportedly made against an official of the state government, WikkiTimes learnt.
READ: After WikkiTimes’ Investigation, Gombe Medical Association Vows to Prosecute Perpetrators
In a statement issued by its Director of Programmes, Ayode Longe, MRA decried the continued harassment of journalists by the police and called on the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba, to put an end to the incessant practice whereby politicians, government officials and other powerful individuals use the force to shield themselves from scrutiny or criticism and to harass or intimidate journalists and media organizations reporting on their activities.
Earlier, Akogun was invited by the police through a letter dated October 7, 2022, which was delivered to him six days after to meet Steve Yabanet, the Deputy Commissioner of Police in the Criminal Investigation Department of the command.
READ: FG Writes WikkiTimes, Denies Funding Adamami-Madakeri Road Rehabilitation
The invitation was slated for October 13, 2022, at 11 am. Surprisingly, he was held.
As contained in the letter, the police claimed to be investigating cases of inciting disturbance, injurious falsehood and criminal defamation against Akogun.
A LETTER OF APOLOGY
When Akogun honoured the invitation yesterday, Yabanet implored him to write a letter of apology to Rafiu Ajakaye, the Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to the Kwara State governor, who had petitioned the command asking it to investigate and prosecute Akogun for alleged criminal defamation against him.
READ: WikkiTimes Publisher Speaks on Kiss FM, Wants Corrupt Public Officers Prosecuted
The CPS had claimed in the petition that Akogun and one other person, committed the offence through their WhatsApp posts on September 30, 2022, in which they accused him of facilitating the use of over N15 million public funds to prosecute the last chairmanship election of the state’s council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ).
MRA lamented that without ascertaining the veracity or otherwise of the report, when Akogun arrived at the station, accompanied by his lawyer, Taiwo Olaitan, the deputy police commissioner asked him to write the letter to the CPS.
It said 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.
The MRA while describing the action of the deputy police commissioner as unlawful, an abuse of power and an abuse of his office, said it is embarrassing that the police now consider it that it is their primary function to protect the reputation of political officeholders, politicians and other powerful individuals and misusing their coercive powers to play the role.
READ: After WikkiTimes’ Investigation, Niger State Health Commissioner Grudgingly Thanks Reporter
“The Inspector-General of Police should immediately call his officers to order and advise them to desist from making themselves tools in the hands of the rich and powerful,” read some parts of the statement.
It called for the immediate and unconditional release of Akogun, warning that if this was not done within 24 hours, MRA would take legal action to protect and enforce his fundamental rights and seek substantial damages for the oppressive violation of his rights.