The Kebbi State Government, headed by Governor Abubakar Atiku, has put every machinery in motion to persecute The Sun correspondent in the state, Olarenwaju Lawal, who was arrested last week Monday, hurriedly arraigned in court without a defence lawyer and clamped in prison custody.
The police, allegedly on the instruction of the Kebbi State Government, arrested Lawal last week Monday over an online publication the day before about the abduction of a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party in the state.
The report, it was gathered, offended some officials of the Kebbi State Government and the ruling All Progressives Congress in the state, prompting them to contact the Acting Commissioner of Police in the state, who ordered Lawal’s arrest while he was on an official engagement.
The police had accused the reporter of publishing a false report, adding also that he neither spoke to their spokesperson in the state, DSP Danjuma Poss, nor to any official of the police in the state over the alleged kidnap incident before going to press.
After interrogating the reporter on the said story, the police subsequently arraigned him before a Magistrate Court in Birnin-Kebbi, the state capital, where he was charged with a one-count charge of disseminating wrongful information.
Olarenwaju, who was taken to court without a legal representative, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge and was remanded in prison till last Monday, after the police had sought for a week to enable them conclude their investigation.
Since the remand of the reporter in prison custody, the police and Kebbi State Government have frustrated his release on bail.
Effort made by a lawyer engaged by the Kebbi State chapter of the Nigerian Union of Journalists to secure Lawal’s bail have been frustrated.
The promises that bail would be granted last Monday was not fulfilled.
Also on Wednesday, the second promise of granting the reporter bail was not fulfilled as he was not even brought to court.
When contacted, the NUJ National President, Chris Isiguzo, expressed surprised that the reporter was still being held after he spoke to the police high command and officials of the Kebbi State Government, who promised that application for bail in last Monday’s court sitting would not be opposed.
Meanwhile, the police have cleverly hands off the case, claiming that the case file is with the Kebbi State Ministry of Justice, while the state government is not making effort to ensure bail is granted.
Sources said the state government is employing delay tactics to keep the reporter in prison throughout the Christmas and New Year celebrations.