The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, HURIWA, has demanded the arrest of the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, for ordering the arrest and detention of a journalist, Rotimi Jolayemi, popularly known as Oba Akewi, and his wife for criticizing the minister.
Recall that Mr Oba Akewi had read a poem during a radio programme in Kwara State, which the minister considered critical of him.
Reacting, HURIWA, in a statement sent to DAILY NIGERIAN, condemned the arrest and detention of the journalist and his siblings, describing the act as arbitrary, unjust and contrary to Section 22 of the Nigerian constitution “which mandates the media to monitor the operations of all governmental and non-governmental systems in the country”.
The rights group, therefore, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to take immediate action to stem the rising cases of violations of the freedom of expression and information, which, according to them, shrink democratic spaces for the media practice.
“HURIWA hereby calls on President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to order the immediate arrest of Alhaji Lai Mohammed and the Kwara State Commissioner of Police for reportedly whisking away innocent persons and detaining them only because their brother was alleged to have read a poem considered offensive by the Minister of Information and Culture.
“This is the elevation of the culture of impunity and criminality for officials of government to resort to self-help measures against a perceived opponent. This is a violation of Section 15(5) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria of 1999 which obliges the Nigerian government to abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power.
“We demand the immediate release of Journalist Jolayemi Rotimi and the payment of compensation for the arbitrary detention and illegal arrests of the journalist and his siblings and biological mother on the illegal order of Alhaji Lai Mohammed,” the statement noted.
The group said it would petition the governments of the United States of America; United Kingdom; Australia, Canada and Germany to pray for imposing a travel ban on the minister.