…Journalists’ Body Demands Immediate Release
The Coalition of Journalists of Conscience, CJC has demanded the immediate release from detention of its member, Oloye Ayodele Samuel- the publisher of Taraba Truth and Facts and CEO of Rock FM 92.3 Jalingo.
The group is calling on the Nigerian Police Force, the Commissioner of Police Taraba State Command, and the Taraba State Governor, Arc. Darius Ishaku to kindly honour the court ruling and free Ayodele Samuel.
In a statement, issued and signed on Thursday in Lagos by the group’s General Secretary, Mr Akinwale Kasali said Ayodele Samuel was on Tuesday, November 29 illegally remanded at the Taraba State Police Command despite Meeting bail conditions.
The statement said, “Ayodele Samuel was arraigned at a magistrate court in Jalingo, presided by his lordship, Garba S. Garba on a two-count charge of defamation and injurious falsehood.
“The charges were filed against him by the Gov. of Taraba State, Darius Dickson Ishaku, through the office of the Attorney General of the state.
“It comes as a reaction from nurtured grievance over a publication on page 5 of the Taraba Truth and Facts Newspaper, dated September 17, 2022 with the title “Taraba for Sale”.
“The publication alleges a possible sale of the Taraba state-owned Mambilla Beverages Company and state properties, including the liaison office in Abuja. In which similar publications had appeared on other prominent Nigerian media prior to the publication on Taraba Truth and Facts without rebuttal.”
According to the Statement, Ayodele Samuel had at the court pleaded not guilty to the charges and his counsel applied for bail successfully, which the magistrate had described as ordinary bailable cases.
The bail conditions were ten million naira fee, two sureties resident in Jalingo having landed properties worth five million naira each.
There were about 12 persons willing to surety instantly, including two pastors but only two would have to help fulfill the bail conditions.
Subsequently, the bail conditions were met but it is quite unclear how the publisher has been remanded, but what is certain is the treacherous abuse of power by the state government.
Now, the Magistrate Court Registrar is saying the case file has being transferred to the State High Court, which obviously is a plan to frustrate the bail process and remand the innocent media entrepreneur further at the custody of the Taraba State Police Command long enough to satisfy Governor Ishaku’s thirst for oppression.
“Our investigation revealed that the State High Court intend to foot-drag the hearing of Ayodele’s case and keep him in detention even beyond December.
“We are calling on the Attorney General of the Federation, the Inspector General of Police, Nigerian Police Force, Nigerian Union of Journalists, NUJ to wade in to forestall this daylight attack on press freedom and of course the right of every Nigerian to live and do business legally anywhere in the Country.
“Prior to the arraignment Ayodele Samuel had honoured two police invitations over separate petitions from the Taraba state government and has conducted himself with regard for law. Thereafter Mr. Ayodele had raised alarms that government agents have tapped his call lines and are tracking his movements.
“Sources have claimed that Governor Ishaku has not been able to reconcile with the reality of someone from a different region of the country having significant impact over the media in the state.
“It has also been heard that on some occasion the Governor spoke of the publisher with disdain, even at the state house of assembly when he ought to be defending the State 2023 budget.
“Accusing and maltreating someone who should have been recognised and honoured as a pacesetter for establishing the first private radio station amidst his numerous achievements in Taraba state is shameful and we are calling on the government and its agents have a rethink and obey the court verdict.
Commenting on the development, former Nigerian Ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago, Ahaji Ardo Jika described the remand of Ayodele as the highest crime against freedom of the press in Nigeria.
He said after following the development that led to the anger of the state government on the publication by the tabloid, the government ought to apologize to the people of Mambila who rejected the sale of Highland Tea which triggered the write-up in the newspaper.
Jika said, “The report which the governor is angry at has all facts, they intended selling the Tea company at Mambilla Plateau, but it did not go down well with the host community, the state assembly house committee were there of recent, they were almost stoned by the youths, ask those of them that were there will tell you, why are they now suppressing the press?
“Is an absolute disappointment that a government seeks to cripple press freedom or at the very least, freedom of expression in this modern time.