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RE: Police Arrest First Weekly Magazine Editor, Dipo Awojobi

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The police in Lagos have arrested a newspaper editor following a petition alleging defamation of character, the journalist’s wife and colleagues have confirmed.

Dipo Awojobi of First Weekly Magazine, was arrested at about 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, his wife, Omolara said.

Mr Awojobi was said to have been moved to Abuja early Friday morning, in a move seen by his colleagues as the latest assault on media practice in Nigeria.

“Journalism will not be subdued in Nigeria,” said journalist Malik Ibitoye, a former colleague of Mr Awojide’s who escalated the matter. “You would expect that the police will know by now that it is unethical and illegal to arrest a journalist over a civil issue that defamation is known to be across the world.”

The arrest was linked to an alleged corruption story about Olumide Aderinokun, an Ogun State politician and brother of the late Tayo Aderinokun of GTBank.

The publication on September 1 said Mr Aderinokun had been under police investigation for bank fraud in excess of N90 million. The report also said Mr Aderinokun, 48, had been previously arraigned for alleged land fraud in Lagos.

Mr Aderinokun, a member of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party who ran unsuccessfully for the House of Representatives in this year’s general election, subsequently drafted a petition to the police over the story, Mrs Awojobi said, citing what she was told when her husband was arrested.

She condemned the manner with which her husband was arrested because it subjected the family to unspeakable trauma.

Mrs Awojobi said she was at her shop in Alimosho, Lagos, on Thursday afternoon when some men called her to get address for a package to be delivered to her from God Is Good, a land-based logistics chain run by God Is Good Motors.

“I told them I was not expecting any delivery from anywhere, but they mentioned my name over and again and insisted that I was the one whose name was on the purported package,” Mrs Awojobi said.

Mrs Awojobi said after calling her husband to inform him about the calls, she gave them her shop address and the men arrived shortly thereafter.

“It was when they arrived that they said a stolen car was registered in my husband’s name and they needed me to follow them to Area ‘F’ Command Headquarters in Ikeja,” Mrs Awojobi said. “When we reached there, they detained me and asked me to call my husband who was in Lekki at the time to come to the station.”

As soon as Mr Awojobi arrived, he was told a petition from Mr Aderinokun had been pending against him and subsequently arrested.

Mrs Awojobi said she was then allowed to go home. But at about 6:00 a.m. today, she received a call from her husband that he was being moved to Abuja by a police team.

Mrs Awojobi’s account of her husband’s arrest matched a growing pattern of security agencies’ crackdown on media practitioners. Several journalists and bloggers have been arrested after being lured by state agents and often on matters that border on defamation of character.

Even though criminal defamation has become largely outdated in other parts of the world, it remains in federal and local statutes, a carryover from the colonial era.

In recent years, as online journalism becomes increasingly mainstream, crackdown on practitioners has equally become widespread. Other security and law enforcement agencies, including even the military, have been carrying out direct attacks on journalists.

Several journalists remained in custody or making court appearances over criminal defamation instituted by government. In some cases, journalists were charged with treason and terrorism for publishing articles whose subjects deemed unfairly critical.

Mrs Awojobi called on the police to immediately release her husband and not allow Mr Aderinokun to use them to fight a personal battle.

Lagos police commissioner, Zubairu Mu’Azu said he had not been told of Mr Awojobi’s arrest. Mr Aderinokun could not be reached for comment Friday morning.

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Xenophobia: South African Police detain 180 foreign nationals

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180 foreign nationals have been detained by the South African police for storming the UN refugee agency in Pretoria where they staged a sit-in protest. 

The protesters whose protest centered on their demand to be relocated to another country after a spate of xenophobic violence in South Africa in September, stormed the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Thursday November 14 after they were informed of a court order giving them three days to vacate the site.

“One hundred and eighty two men and one woman were taken into custody by the police at different police stations,” said provincial police spokeswoman Mathapelo Peters in a statement.

AFP reported that Peters said the sit-in was cleared and hundreds of women and children were bussed to a repatriation centre on the outskirts of Johannesburg as “temporary accommodation”. 

The protesters who were held on trespassing charges and expected to appear before the Pretoria Magistrate Court on Monday November 18, reportedly threw rocks and other objects when being dispersed with water cannons by security operatives. 

“One hundred and eighty two men and one woman were taken into custody by the police at different police stations,” said provincial police spokeswoman Mathapelo Peters in a statement.

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Boat Conveying Journalists Covering Bayelsa Election Capsizes

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A boat conveying journalists across flooded parts of Sampou community in Kolokuma Opokuma Local Government Area of Bayelsa State on Saturday capsized and threw the four occupants into the water.

According to the News Agency of Nigeria, the boat was carrying four journalists covering the governorship elections, including its correspondent.

The journalists were returning from a polling station when the incident happened and left the victims submerged.

However, the timely intervention of sympathisers saved the journalists whose mobile phones, cameras and recorders were drenched.

Flood had submerged many parts of Amasoma, Yenagoa and parts of Sagbama, a development that displaced polling stations.

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Armed men invade INEC office in Kogi community, chase officials, observers into hiding

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The atmosphere was tense Saturday night at about 10 p.m. in Ugwolawo community, Ofu local government of Kogi State, as thugs who claimed to be from Zamfara State invaded the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) office.

Collation of results was ongoing when the armed men arrived.

For more than an hour, the armed men shot sporadically into the air and are believed to have engaged a police team that arrived later in a shootout.

When they shot sporadically, they shouted on top of their voice for residents of the area to remain indoors and not come out to continue the collation exercise at the INEC office.

Our reporter, among other observers who were caught up in the fracas, had to run into a house and lie down for over an hour.

Residents and election observers were still in hiding at the time of this report.

Efforts to contact the INEC spokesperson and the police spokesperson in Kogi State were unsuccessful as both did not respond to calls and text messages.

Premium Times earlier reported how thugs allegedly loyal to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) invaded Dekina community in Dekina local government of Kogi State in an attempt to hijack results sheets for the Dekina Ward.

The PDP collation agent for the ward, Obaka James, said the results were already collated and being signed by agents, when gunshot sounds rented the air.

Mr Obaka said; “We know the attackers, they had already operated in the morning and their leader was arrested. But we don’t know how he was released again. Now you can see the problems he is causing. But they don’t know that I have collated result with me.”

He said across eight other local governments in the senatorial districts, collation had been done in most wards.”So, why is ours different? Every time, there must be crisis claiming lives in this place. Is election war?”

Earlier, at about 1:13 a.m. on Saturday, thugs had invaded the registration centre for ward 2 in the local government, which is located at Odu Ofomu community and attacked the electoral officers.

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