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Police arrest NewDigest’s webmaster over investigative report

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Ibrahim Ramalan
Ibrahim Ramalan is a graduate of Mass Communications from the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria. With nearly a decade-long, active journalism practice, Mr Ramalan has been able to rise from a cub reporter to the exalted position of an editor; first as Arts Editor with the Blueprint Newspapers before resigning in 2019; second and presently as an Associate Editor of the Daily Nigerian online newspaper. He can be reached via [email protected], or www.facebook.com/ibrahim.ramalana, or @McRamalan on Twitter.
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In what looked like a sting operation, a team of policemen has arrested Adebowale Adekoya, a professional webmaster of the NewsDigest, an Abuja-based online medium over an investigative news story published last year.

Mr Adekoya, PRNigeria learned, was arrested in Ikorodu, Lagos last Friday while going home and thereafter whisked away to Ilorin Kwara State without meeting his family.

The investigative news report, which was titled: “Inside Kwara factory where Indian hemp smoking is ‘legalized,” was authored by Alfred Olufemi, an award-winning campus journalist from one of the premier universities in the country.

The story was published by NewsDigest with the reporter’s byline on 19 May, 2018.

In the said report, Hillcrest Agro-Alied Industry, one of the group of companies owned by a former Deputy Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Sarah Alade, it was learnt, tolerates the smoking of cigarettes, as well as Indian hemp by workers within its vicinity.

The NewsDigest’s investigative journalist, in his report, further disclosed that workers who are saddled with the responsibility of loading and off-loading processed and unprocessed grains in trucks and other herculean tasks, smoke Indian hemp at will without being sanctioned.

From the body of the investigative report, the industry refused to respond to Olufemi’s inquiry on the disturbing situation, after he had put several calls and text messages to the industry’s hotline.

Reacting to the worrisome incident, Gidado Yushau, Editor of NewsDigest, expressed shock over the arrest of his online newspaper’s webmaster, describing the police’s action as an ‘unbridled illegality’.

Mr Yushau, who maintained that the Police had no justification to illegally arrest and detain Mr. Adekoya over a story which he was not the author, said NewsDigest, as a credible online medium, always upholds and adheres to the tenets and basic ethics of news reportage.

He said: “NewsDigest has over the years served as veritable platform for grooming and sharpening the writing talents of brilliant campus journalists, who publish their articles, news reports and investigative stories on the medium for free.

“We strongly promote investigative journalism, especially investigations done by gifted student-writers and journalists.

“One of the results of our advocacy is the particular story, which was ‘beautifully’ authored by Mr. Alfred.

“We totally condemn the unjustifiable action of the law enforcement officers for arresting Adekoya who is for doing his legitimate work of managing our online site and dozens of other media platforms.

“Besides, he was neither the owner of the website nor the author of the investigative report. Therefore, we are calling on the police to unconditionally release him,” the publisher added.

PRNigeria gathered that up to the time of filing this report, the police are still holding on to the arrested webmaster in lieu of the publisher of the website.

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