Five days after some Police officers in Lagos State arrested Adebowale Adekoya, a professional webmaster for the NewsDigest, an Abuja-based online medium; the newspaper editor, Gidado Yushau, has also been arrested by detectives of Kwara State Police Command.
It was gathered that the plain-clothed police officers stormed the editor’s residence in Abuja on Tuesday night and whisked him away to Wuye District Police Station.
According to a report by PRNigeria, the NewsDigest’s editor and his webmaster were arrested in a Gestapo-like style for publishing an investigative news story titled, “Inside Kwara factory where Indian hemp smoking is ‘legalized”.
The factory, Hillcrest Agro-Allied Industry in Ilorin, is said to be owned by a former acting governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Sarah Alade.
The report, which was published on 19 May 2018, was authored by Alfred Olufemi, an award-winning campus journalist from one of the premier universities in the country.
According to PRNigeria, four detectives, early Wednesday (today) morning, left the Wuye Police Station with Gidado and Adekoya in a blue vehicle, en route Ilorin for further interrogation and with the intention of arresting Alfred.
In a telephone chat with PRNigeria, lawyer to the arrested NewsDigest’s staff, Barrister Yunus Abdulsalam, said it defies logic that something that happened last year May would be resuscitated now, a year and a half after the report was published by the newspaper.
The lawyer, who explained that Mr Gidado is a well-known young media entrepreneur, picketed the police for storming the residences of the young journalist and his webmaster, in a manner that is reminiscent of a sting operation.
On what the ‘illegal’ arrest portends for the future of campus journalism, Bar. Abdulsalam, said: “This is a sad commentary, and an ugly chapter in the life of campus journalism in Nigeria.
“This kind of illegality is not a good omen for campus journalism. It is also a traumatic and horrifying experience for NewsDigest and YouthsDigest, as a credible online media platform to promote activities of budding writers and young journalists.
“Both NewsDigest and YouthsDigest are two notable media organisations that have created competitiveness among campus journalists.
And as a matter of fact, the author of the investigative report, and other young writing talents who often contribute stories for the two mediums are reporters with untainted integrity.
“Thus, they are being engaged with by other credible and frontline media houses such as Premium Times, The Nation ICIR, Blueprint and the Cable among others to serve as their campus correspondent and reporters.
“Had it been they are known for writing fictitious or libelous stories, would they have been engaged by the mainstream media establishments?,”Mr Abdulsalam quizzed.
The lawyer insisted that the alleged ‘defamatory’ offence is one that permits both the NewsDigest’s Editor and webmaster to be granted bail, as such the police should do the needful without further ado.
“The alleged offence is not even one that necessitates arresting them. In fact, what the police did by arresting them can be compared to using a sledgehammer to kill an ant,” he said.