Lai Mohammed finally joins the bandwagon of politicians punishing journalists for free speech

Lai Mohammed

Want to understand just how much trouble Nigeria is in? A sitting Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed has been accused of being complicit in the harassment of private citizens and the arrest of a journalist for the crime of free speech. The ministry of Information and Culture is the singular ministry outside the ministry of Justice tasked with protecting the rights of Nigerian citizens to access information, to give free speech and to seek out the truth no matter the circumstances. This is how deep the rot in Nigeria goes, and Rotimi Jolayemi, a Nigerian poet and journalist is the scapegoat of this particular witch hunt.  th

Jolayemi, better known as Oba Akewi in his social circles was brought before a Federal High Court in Abuja after he turned him at the ‘gentle’ request of the Nigerian police. This ‘gentle’ request included a warrant for the arrest of Mrs. Dorcas Jolayemi, Oba Akewi’s innocent wife and the arrests of two of his brothers, all of whom spent a cumlative 21 days in police custody before Jolayemi finally presented himself to the courts, afraid for his family. What exactly is the crime that Jolayemi has committed to warrant such swift retribution and the well oiled churning wheel of the law, that often fails petty thieves and the wrongly accused?

One of Oba Akewi’s poems highlighting many of the accusations of falsehood levelled against the Minister of Information was read on public radio and subsequently went viral on Whatsapp.

According to information obtained by Sahara Reporters, this is Jolayemi’s official charge sheet, with the offence, levelled against him allegedly contravening section 24(1)(b) of the Nigerian Cybercrime (Prohibition, Prevention etc) Act 2015. Here’s the charge replicated in full:

“That you Jolayemi Oba Akewi ‘m’ aged 43 years on or another the 14th day of April, 2020 at Osola compound Ekan nka, Kwara State within the jurisdiction of this honorable Court did send a audio message through your android phone device to a group WhatsApp platform known as “Ekan Sons and Daughters” and which went viral immediately after it was posted for the purpose of causing annoyance, insult, hatred and ill will go the current Hon. Minister of Information and Culture, Federal Republic of Nigeria, Alhaji Lai Mohammed and Culture committed an offense contrary to section 24(1)(b) of the Cybercrime (Prohibition, Prevention etc) Act 2015.”

When did it become a crime to write poetry?

How much lower can Nigerian politicians go before they hit rock bottom?

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