…Demands unconditional release of detained colleagues
The Association of Kwara Online Media Practitioners (ASKOMP) has reacted to the unlawful detention of two of its members by the Kwara State Command of the Nigerian Police Force, describing it as a “conspiracy taken too far” and a victimisation of the journalists.
In a statement signed by its Chairman, Salihu Shola Taofeek, ASKOMP detailed the events leading to the detention of the two renowned online journalists, setting the record straight regarding some of the misconceptions already in the public domain regarding the issue.
Below is the full statement of ASKOMP:
ASKOMP SET RECORDS STRAIGHT, DEMANDS UNCONDITIONAL RELEASE OF DETAINED JOURNALISTS
The Association of Kwara State Online Media Practitioners (ASKOMP) has called for the immediate and unconditional release of two of its members, Aiyelabegan Babatunde Abdulrazaq and Oluwatoyin Lukman Bolakale, Publishers of Just Events Online Satcom Media respectively, who have been held in police detention since Monday, September 11, 2023.
Their detention is related to a petition filed against them by Ms. Monsurah Jumoke Gafar, the immediate past Principal Private Secretary to the Kwara State Governor.
SETTING THE RECORDS STRAIGHT
1) Both journalists willingly responded to a phone invitation from the Anti-Kidnapping and Cultism Unit of the Kwara State Police Command on Monday, accompanied by three ASKOMP members and legal representation.
2) The police inquiry primarily focused on the source of a press release signed by Chief Rotimi Adebowale, which they correctly attributed to its origin.
3) They were requested to provide Chief Rotimi Adebowale’s phone number, which they were unable to do. Instead, they furnished the police with the contact details of the press release’s source, who was later identified as a Senior Government official.
4) ASKOMP, seeking an amicable resolution, engaged in Alternative Dispute Resolution discussions with Hon. Razaq Owolabi, who appeared receptive to a peaceful settlement ensuring their release within 48 hours without court proceedings.
5) Subsequently, ASKOMP provided Hon. Razaq Owolabi, a key figure in the petition, with essential evidence confirming the government source’s involvement. This evidence was promptly shared with the police.
5) Unfortunately, the Police has thus far, refused to arrest the government source, yet they continued to hold our innocent colleagues in detention.
6) It must be noted the story in question is about nothing but the rumoured power play within the ranks of the loyalists of the Kwara State Governor, which is natural anywhere pecks of office are up for grabs.
7) Thus, we see the continued detention of our colleagues without the arrest of the culprits as a conspiracy taken to far and nothing but victimisation of our colleagues whose only offence is nothing but being dedicated to their job.
8) Thus, we implore all well meanings Kwarans and lovers of press freedom to stand-up and join us in demanding the release of our colleagues.
Salihu Shola Taofeek