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Nigeria Police arrest First Weekly Magazine editor

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Dipo Awojobi, First Weekly Magazine editor

The police in Lagos have arrested a newspaper editor following a petition alleging defamation of character, the journalist’s wife and colleagues said

Dipo Awojobi of First Weekly Magazine, an entertainment tabloid publishing out of Lagos, was arrested at about 5:00 p.m. on Thursday.

Mr Awojobi was said to have been moved to Abuja early Friday morning, in a move seen by his colleagues as the latest assault on media practice in Nigeria.

“Journalism will not be subdued in Nigeria,” said journalist Malik Ibitoye, a former colleague of Mr Awojide’s who alerted PREMIUM TIMES on the development. “You would expect that the police will know by now that it is unethical and illegal to arrest a journalist over a civil issue that defamation is known to be across the world.”

The arrest was linked to an alleged corruption story about Olumide Aderinokun, an Ogun State politician and brother of the late Tayo Aderinokun of GTBank.

The publication on September 1 said Mr Aderinokun had been under police investigation for bank fraud in excess of N90 million. The report also said Mr Aderinokun, 48, had been previously arraigned for alleged land fraud in Lagos.

Mr Aderinokun, a member of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party who ran unsuccessfully for the House of Representatives in this year’s general election, subsequently drafted a petition to the police over the story, Mrs Awojobi told PREMIUM TIMES citing what she was told when her husband was arrested.

She condemned the manner with which her husband was arrested because it subjected the family to unspeakable trauma.

Mrs Awojobi said she was at her shop in Alimosho, Lagos, on Thursday afternoon when some men called her to get address for a package to be delivered to her from God Is Good, a land-based logistics chain run by God Is Good Motors.

“I told them I was not expecting any delivery from anywhere, but they mentioned my name over and again and insisted that I was the one whose name was on the purported package,” Mrs Awojobi said.

Mrs Awojobi said after calling her husband to inform him about the calls, she gave them her shop address and the men arrived shortly thereafter.

“It was when they arrived that they said a stolen car was registered in my husband’s name and they needed me to follow them to Area ‘F’ Command Headquarters in Ikeja,” Mrs Awojobi said. “When we reached there, they detained me and asked me to call my husband who was in Lekki at the time to come to the station.”

As soon as Mr Awojobi arrived, he was told a petition from Mr Aderinokun had been pending against him and subsequently arrested.

Mrs Awojobi said she was then allowed to go home. But at about 6:00 a.m. today, she received a call from her husband that he was being moved to Abuja by a police team.

Mrs Awojobi’s account of her husband’s arrest matched a growing pattern of security agencies’ crackdown on media practitioners. Several journalists and bloggers have been arrested after being lured by state agents and often on matters that border on defamation of character.

Even though criminal defamation has become largely outdated in other parts of the world, it remains in federal and local statutes, a carryover from the colonial era.

In recent years, as online journalism becomes increasingly mainstream, crackdown on practitioners has equally become widespread. Other security and law enforcement agencies, including even the military, have been carrying out direct attacks on journalists.

Several journalists remained in custody or making court appearances over criminal defamation instituted by government. In some cases, journalists were charged with treason and terrorism for publishing articles whose subjects deemed unfairly critical.

Mrs Awojobi called on the police to immediately release her husband and not allow Mr Aderinokun to use them to fight a personal battle.

Lagos police commissioner, Zubairu Mu’Azu told PREMIUM TIMES he had not been told of Mr Awojobi’s arrest. Mr Aderinokun could not be reached for comment Friday morning.

Source: Premium Times

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We can only release Sowore to his sureties, says DSS

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DSS DG, Bichi

The Department of State Services (DSS) says it is ready to release Omoyele Sowore, convener of RevolutionNow Movement.

Sowore was arrested in Lagos on August 3 and subsequently flown to Abuja where he has been detained.

A federal high court in Abuja had granted him bail but the activist is yet to regain freedom even after fulfilling his bail conditions.

This had prompted a nationwide outrage and protest at the headquarters of the agency. There were reports of assault on the protesters on Tuesday.

But in a statement sent to The Witness on Wednesday, Peter Afunanya, spokesman of the DSS, said operatives of the agency, did not open fire on protesters but prevented those who wanted to forcefully break into the agency to release Sowore.

Read the full statement below:

The Department of State Services (DSS) wishes to state that its operatives did not open fire on alleged protesters who had stormed its facility on 12th November, 2019.

As a normal global security practice, the operatives stood in defence of their facility when some group of persons made unruly attempts to forcefully break into the place and effect the release of Omoloye SOWORE.

Despite serial and unwarranted provocations, the Service, as a professional and responsible Organisation, did not shoot at the so called protesters. It could not have done so.

For emphasis, the Service reiterates its avowed readiness to release SOWORE once the processes are concluded. It maintains that the appropriate persons have still not turned up to take delivery of SOWORE.

While all those that have so far shown up are not directly concerned with the matter and therefore unqualified, many others have either chosen to grandstand or politicise it to achieve hidden interests.

In the last few days, the Service has continued to witness deliberate campaigns of calumny, threats and aspersions against it. It will not, for any reason, join issues with its mudslingers. The media is called upon to be neutral and remain champions of the truth.

It is only appropriate that those who stood surety for SOWORE present themselves and have him released to them. It is even more disappointing that Femi FALANA, who is a senior lawyer, would wrongly guide his client and supporters. He is rather playing to the gallery and mobilizing miscreants to subvert the Service and other state authorities. He has excellent relationship with the DGSS. But in the circumstance, he has refused to reach out to him over the case like he had on previously related ones.

For the avoidance of doubt, the Service restates its commitment to the rule of law and particularly respect to the Court. It, therefore, calls for calm but states that it will not be intimidated or harassed into hasty actions.

It reassures the public that it will not waste a second to release SOWORE if the proper processes are followed. And FALANA, sure, knows what these are.

Peter Afunanya, Ph.D
Public Relations Officer,
Department of State Services,
National Headquarters,
Abuja
13th November, 2019

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APC suspends Edo gov, deputy, SSG over alleged anti-party activities

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Leaders of the All Progressives Congress APC, in Edo State have suspended the state governor, Godwin Obaseki, his deputy governor, Philip Shuaibu and the Secretary to the state Government, Osarodion Ogie for alleged anti party activities.

A chieftain of the party, Mr. Patrick Ikhariale stated this while briefing journalists in Benin City on Wednesday.

Details later.

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APC govs to Oshiomhole: You have failed, resign now

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Governors elected on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) have expressed dissatisfaction with the various crisis currently rocking the party and have demanded that the National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole convene a National Executive Committee (NEC) Meeting or resign immediately.

The governors under the aegis of Progressives Governors Forum (PGF) specifically mentioned the ongoing political battle between the governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki and Oshiomhole himself among many others across the country.
The APC in Edo State on Tuesday suspended the APC National Chairman over what it termed as “his role in the crisis rocking the state chapter of the party”.

The decision followed the vote of no confidence passed on Comrade Oshiomhole by the Chairmen of the APC in the 18 Local Government Areas (LGAs) of Edo State.

However, In a statement made available to newsmen Wednesday morning in Abuja and signed by the PGF’s Director-General Salihu Moh. Lukman, the forum asked “Why is it impossible to convene a NEC or even National Caucus meetings, which are supposed to hold every quarter to resolve all these issues? Why should the NWC under Comrade Oshiomhole continue to imagine that it can conduct affairs of the party without mandatory meetings of party organs?

What legacy is Comrade Oshiomhole hoping to achieve as a National Chairman by running the party in a way that suggests almost zero commitment to issues of party development?”
While demanding for a statutory NEC meeting, the governors said: “In the current circumstance, nothing short of a NEC or National Caucus meeting of the party can resolve all our increasing organisational challenges as a party. It is either Comrade Oshiomhole respects the provision of the party constitution and convene superior organ meeting to deliberate on all our challenges, or he should just accept his inability to manage the party and simply resign.

“Our national leaders must rise to the challenge facing us as a party and take all necessary measures to convene superior organ meetings to begin to resolve all our challenges as a party. The current public disgrace must end!”

The governors said it is very painful for many of them who have had the privilege of being mentored by Comrade Oshiomhole to see him being devalued to a local factional leader from a very high pedestal of an illustrious national leader.

“As National Chairman, Comrade Oshiomhole hardly appreciates that he now has a national constituency and not just a state constituency, which may have been responsible for his apparent intemperance in the handling of matters affecting Edo State. I wish he paid similar attention to the handling of issues affecting Rivers and Zamfara states during the 2019 elections.

“Information coming from Edo State indicate that members of the State Executive Council of APC have passed a vote of no confidence in Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, National Chairman of our party, APC. In so many respects, it could be argued, it is a natural outcome of unfolding power play between Comrade Oshiomhole and Governor Godwin Obaseki since June 2019 with the contentious inauguration of the Edo State House of Assembly.

“Possible retaliatory responses from both Comrade Oshiomhole and groups such as Edo Peoples Movement who are loyal to Comrade Oshiomhole should be expected. In other words, the could be counter pronouncement suspending Governor Obaseki.

“Side by side with the news of the vote of no confidence was also the discomforting report of the Federal High Court judgement in Abuja disqualifying Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo as our Deputy Governorship candidate for the November 16, 2019 Bayelsa election. While expecting that every necessary step will be taken to vacate the judgement, it is very depressing forever.

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