Two Journalists Detained in Ilorin for Alleged Criminal Defamation, Cyberstalking Following Complaint by Governor’s Press Secretary

Mr. Abdulrasheed Akogun
Fresh Insight TV

On October 13 2022, Mr. Abdulrasheed Akogun, the proprietor of an online news and television network known as Fresh Insight TV; and Mr. Dare Akogun, an investigative journalist with Sobi F.M. radio, both in Ilorin, Kwara State, were arrested and detained by men of the Nigerian Police Force in Ilorin upon honouring an invitation from the State’s Deputy Commissioner of Police.

The two journalists were detained on the orders of the Deputy Commissioner of Police in the Criminal Investigation Department of the Kwara State Command of the Nigeria Police, Mr. Steve Yabanet, when they refused to comply with his directive that they should write a letter of apology to Mr Ajakaye Rafiu, the Chief Press Secretary to the State Governor, who lodged the complaint leading to the incident.

The journalists were invited by the Police by a letter dated October 7, 2022, which was delivered to him on October 12, 2022, to meet with the Deputy Commissioner of Police on October 13, 2022 at 11am.  The letter claimed that the office was investigating cases of inciting disturbance, injurious falsehood and criminal defamation against them but said the invitation for them to report at the office was “just a fact-finding invitation.”

However, when the journalists honoured the invitation on October 13, they were directed by the Deputy Police Commissioner to sign an already prepared retraction document and a letter of apology to the Chief Press Secretary to the State Governor who had petitioned the State Police Command asking it to investigate and prosecute Mr. Abdulrasheed Akogun and Mr. Dare Akogun for alleged criminal defamation against him. The Deputy Police Commissioner said the journalists would only be released when they signed the letter of apology.

In the petition, which he wrote on October 6, 2022, the spokesman of the Governor had claimed in the petition that the two journalists broke the Law through their posts on September 30, 2022 on a popular WhatsApp group, Kwara Commission, in which they made false allegations against him and the State Governor that they used over N15 million in public funds to influence the chairmanship election in a recently concluded election into the Kwara State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) and thereby inciting the public against him as well as criminally defaming his character.

Mr. Dare Akogun
Sobi F.M. Radio

Without ascertaining the veracity or otherwise of the report, when the two journalists arrived at the station, accompanied by their lawyer, Mr. Taiwo Olaitan, the Deputy Policy Commissioner asked them to write the letter of apology to the Chief Press Secretary. But the journalists 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 they should be detained.

The two journalists were detained overnight until the morning of October 14, 2022, when they were arraigned before a Magistrate Court sitting in Ilorin.