The plight of detained blogger Ms. Kemi Olunloyo who was arrested in Lagos last year after she was accused of publishing a libelous article defaming the Senior Pastor of Port Harcourt based Salvation Ministries, Bishop David Ibiyeomie and was subsequently arraigned and detained in Port Harcourt prison since October 2017 has once again received public attention.
A Civil Society Organization OurMumuDonDo in a statement signed by its National Publicity Secretary Adebayo Raphael condemned the continued illegal incarceration of the female journalist saying ” it is even more disheartening is the manner in which the Nigerian people, the Christian community and indeed the legal system in Nigeria has seemingly become disinterested in ensuring that justice is tempered in this case involving Kemi Olunloyo”.
The continued detention of Kemi Olunloyo and the manner with which the case is being handled has shown that the Nigeria Justice System is selective. After Kemi Olunloyo was arrested in October 2017, she was arraigned before a Rivers State Magistrate Court and while coming for her bail application in the next sitting if the court, she was dressed in a prison uniform, which suggests she is being treated as a convicted criminal.
Kemi Olunloyo is yet to be convicted of any crime, and presenting her to press in a prison uniform is signalling to the judge and the press that she is a criminal. This is even more damning when you consider that individuals that have committed more heinous acts such as financial impropriety, kidnapping are accorded dignity during their court hearings and allowed to present themselves in whatever manner they choose. Even the dreaded Major Hamza Al-mustapha who was accused of ordering the assassinations of several people during the Abacha regime, including Mrs. Kudirat Abiola was allowed to attend his hearings challenging his imprisonment in formal wear, even though he was already convicted and remanded in prison.
At a time some of these high level suspects are enjoying the privilege of “innocent until proven guilty” for Kemi Olunloyo has been punished for exercising her right to free speech. As a Nigerian, the right of Kemi Olunloyo has been trampled upon and this should not have happened as her right to bail has been taken away from her. While her case is yet to be handled by any judge at the Federal High Court where her case has been transferred, she is still being punished for daring to speak about a man with influence.
What we think of Kemi Olunloyo is secondary to her rights enshrined in the constitution and this abuse of her rights should worry you. Because in Nigeria, it never takes too long before it is your name in the hashtags for justice.