The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has called on the authorities in Nigeria to swiftly drop all charges against journalists Aiyelabegan Babatunde AbdulRazaq and Oluwatoyin Luqman Bolakale, pictured, and allow them to work freely.
On September 11, police detained the two, who are publishers of the independent news websites Just Event Online and The Satcom Media, over their critical reporting about a local politician, according to their lawyer Taofiq Olateju.
The published articles contained allegations of abuse of office by Jumoke Monsura Gafar, the former principal private secretary to the governor of Kwara State.
The two journalists have been charged with cyberstalking and conspiracy.
AbdulRazaq and Bolakale told the CPJ that police called them in for questioning about their sources, and they explained that their reports were based on a press release from a political lobby group. They said the police asked them for a contact for the signatory of the press release, which they were unable to provide.
“Yet again we see Nigeria’s cybercrime law being abused to prosecute the press and the police intimidating journalists to reveal their sources. When will lawmakers act to ensure journalism is not criminalised,” said Angela Quintal, CPJ Africa Program Coordinator
The chairperson of the Association of Kwara Online Media Practitioners, Shola Salihu Taofeek, said police also asked a third journalist, Oyewale Oyelola, managing editor of the Factual Times news website, to come to the station but he went into hiding for fear of being detained. The outlet had also published an article about Gafar, based on the same press release.