A Magistrate Court sitting in Ilorin, Kwara State, has fixed November 23, 2022 for further mention in the trial of journalists, Abdulrasheed Akogun and Dare Akogun on charges of criminal conspiracy, criminal defamation, inciting disturbance, and injurious falsehood brought against them by the State Commissioner of Police.
Abdulrasheed, proprietor of an online news and television network known as Fresh Insight TV; and Dare, an investigative journalist with Sobi F.M. radio in Ilorin, were arraigned before Magistrate Saliu Bio on October 14, 2022, before Magistrate Saliu Bio on charges of criminal conspiracy, criminal defamation, inciting disturbance, and injurious falsehood, contrary to sections 97, 114, 392 and 393 of the Penal Code Law of Kwara State as well as cyberstalking contrary to Section 24 of the Cybercrime (Prohibition, Prevention, etc.) Act, 2015.
In a First Information Report filed on October 14, 2022 by the Commissioner of Police, the journalists were accused of posting a comment on a popular WhatsApp platform known as “Kwara Commission” on September 30, 2022, by which it was alleged that they claimed that the regime of Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrasaq is the most corrupt government they had seen and that the government spent over N15 million to influence the just concluded Nigeria Union Journalists (NUJ), Kwara State Council’s election through a government agent they referred to as “professional police” and “advocate of Government Sainthood”.
Abdulrasheed and Dare were also alleged to have repeated the same comment at about 3:49 pm on the same WhatsApp platform and alleged that Mr Ajakaye Rafiu, the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor of Kwara State, facilitated millions of naira to influence the last NUJ election conducted in the State.
In the information report, the prosecution alleged that at about 6:06 pm on September 30, 2022, Dare went further to state that all the allegation levied against the Chief Press Secretary were true.
The prosecution claimed that the alleged comments made by Abdulrasheed and Dare were false and injurious to the person of the Governor and the Chief Press Secretary and that the action of the two journalists incited people of Kwara State against the Governor and criminally defamed the character of the Governor and the Chief Press Secretary.
At their arraignment, Abdulrasheed and Dare pleaded not guilty to the charges.offences.
However, the prosecution brought an application before the court for an order that the journalists be remanded for seven days, which the court granted in its ruling. Magistrate Bio ordered that the accused journalists be remanded until October 19, 2022.
Mr. Taiwo Nuiran Olaitan, an Ilorin-based lawyer engaged by Media Rights Agenda (MRA) to represent the journalists, subsequently filed an application for both Abdulrasheed and Dare on October 17 asking the court to grant them bail.
After hearing Mr. Olaitan’s arguments in support of the bail application on October 19, 2022 Magistrate Bio granted both journalists bail.
The court ordered that two persons should stand in as sureties for the journalists with the sum of N500,000.00 and both sureties must have landed property and reside within the court’s jurisdiction. The matter has been adjourned till November 23, 2022, for further mention.