By Evelyn Usman & Bose Adelaja
LAGOS— Reactions, yesterday, trailed the arrest of Publisher of Sahara Reporters, Omoyele Sowore, by the Police in Lagos over allegations of threat to life and blackmail by a London-based journalist, Lekan Fatodu, with the Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, CACOL, condemning the police action.
Executive Chairman of CACOL, Mr. Debo Adeniran, in a statement yesterday, described the police action as unacceptable, adding that the development was reminiscent of the dark days of the military rule when journalists were “hounded, intimidated, tortured, detained and assassinated on a regular basis.”
He said: “Let us assume, without conceding that Sowore is guilty of the trumped-up charges of defamation, blackmail and threat to life; and if police had a petition on the matter, we should ask the Police if previously they had invited the journalist for interrogation?
“If they did, what was Sowore’s response? That is, did he honour the invitation? If he didn’t, what did the Police do? Why should it be the petitioner that had to carry-out the arrest on behalf of the Police?”
Recall that news of Sowore’s arrest went viral in the social media, Wednesday, after he posted online an attack on him in Ikeja.
From the Area ‘F Police’ Station in Ikeja, Sowore posted that “after the police intervened in the attacked by Lekan Fatodu and his friends in Lagos, we were taken to the CP’s office.
“Turns out he was in on this; he pulled out a supposed petition written by Lekan. After that he became very hostile towards me and ordered that we be driven to the State CIID, Yaba. It is very obvious that this was planned between Lekan Fatodu and the police.”
I was never arrested—Sowore
Speaking to The Cable, Sowore, however, described report of his arrest as untrue, adding that he demonstrated that by refusing to sign a bail bond before leaving the SCIID Wednesday night.
He said: “When they asked me to sign a bail bond, I refused. I asked them to show me why and how I was arrested.
“They asked the investigation officer if he had any charge against me and he said ‘No o. It’s two fighting’.
“So I said it is two fighting that brought us here. Where is the allegation and evidence? And they were looking at me. There is no evidence on police record that I was arrested.”
Femi Falana reacts
On his part, the human rights activist, Femi Falana (SAN), said police had not been able to establish the allegation of blackmail against Sowore.
Falana said: “The complaint against Sowore was thrown out by the Lagos State Police Command this afternoon (yesterday). Police said that the allegation of blackmail was not established against Mr. Omoyele Sowore.
“With respect to the complaint of defamation of character by Sahara Reporters’ publication, the complainant was advised by police to approach a civil court for legal redress.”
Our position— Police
Commissioner of Police, Lagos State Police Command, Mr. Fatai Owoseni, while explaining the command’s position, frowned at Sowore’s accusation that police were working in favour of Fatodu.
Describing the claim as false, Owoseni disclosed that it was Sowore who made a distress call to the command’s platform, that he was being attacked by hoodlums at Isaac John street.
He hinted that policemen responded immediately, only to discover that it was a false alarm.
Owoseni said: “Policemen found out that there was no robbery attack but a brawl between him and one Lekan Fatodu.
“The policemen brought them to my office and after I interrogated them, it was found that Lekan had earlier lodged a complaint of defamation of character, blackmail and extortion, which I detailed to the SCIID.
“I referred both of them to the SCIID with regard to the pending case.”