Two Journalists Arrested, Docked, Released on Bail

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Mr. Salihu Ayatullahi, and Mr. Adisa-Jaji Azeez

Two journalists, Mr. Salihu Ayatullahi, Editor-in-Chief, and Mr. Adisa-Jaji Azeez, Managing Editor of an online news portal, Informant247, were on February 6, 2024, detained in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, for allegedly publishing injurious reports against the Rector of the Kwara State Polytechnic, Engineer Abdul Jimoh Muhammed. The journalists were detained when they responded to a police invitation.

The following day, police charged them, alongside Mr. Salihu Shola Taofeek, and Mr. Abdulrahman Taye Damilola with conspiracy and cyberstalking under section 24(1)(b) of Nigeria’s Cybercrimes Act, and defamation under section 393 of the Penal Code Act. Taofeek, and Damilola who were not present in court were said to be “at large.”

The journalists were detained in connection with investigative stories published by Informant247 on November 10, 2023, and February 2, 2024, alleging that the Kwara Polytechnic Rector made false claims about the institution’s financial status and commissioned shoddy, uncompleted projects.

They approached the Federal High Court through their lawyer, A. J. Edun, seeking protection of their fundamental human right to press freedom and liberty.

Although the prosecutor, Mr. Abdullah Sanni, reminded the court of the motion exparte attached to the First Information Report claiming that granting the journalists bail may jettison police effort to arrest those who are at large, Magistrate Monisola Kamson, who presided over the matter however granted them bail with two hundred and fifty thousand naira and two sureties each while the matter was adjourned to February 13, 2024.