Police arrest NewsDigest editor, webmaster over report on ex-CBN chief’s firm

Five days after some police officers in Lagos State arrested a professional webmaster for NewsDigest, an Abuja-based online medium, Adebowale Adekoya, the newspaper editor, Gidado Yushau Shuaib, has also been arrested by detectives of Kwara State Police Command.

The NewsDigest’s Editor and webmaster were arrested for publishing an investigative news story titled, “Inside Kwara factory where Indian hemp smoking is ‘legalised”.

PRNigeria gathered that Gidado was arrested on Tuesday night and first taken to Wuye District Police Station after the plain-clothed police officers stormed his residence in Abuja.

The report, which was published on 19 May 2018, was authored by Mr Alfred Olufemi, an award-winning campus journalist from one of the premier universities in the country.

In the report, it was stated that Hillcrest Agro-Allied Industry tolerated the smoking of cigarettes and Indian hemp by workers saddled with the responsibility of loading and off-loading processed and unprocessed grains in trucks without being sanctioned.

It was also reported that the firm refused to respond to the author’s inquiry on the disturbing situation after he had put several calls and text messages to the industry’s hotline.

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In a telephone chat with PRNigeria, lawyer to the arrested NewsDigest’s staff, Barrister Yunus Abdulsalam, said it defied logic that an event that was published by the newspaper in May 2018 was being resuscitated now.

The lawyer, who explained that Gidado is a well-known young media entrepreneur, picketed the police for storming the residences of the young journalist and his webmaster, in a manner that is reminiscent of a sting operation.

On what the arrest portends for the future of campus journalism, Abdulsalam, said: “This is a sad commentary, and an ugly chapter in the life of campus journalism in Nigeria. This kind of illegality is not a good omen for campus journalism. It is also a traumatic and horrifying experience for NewsDigest and YouthsDigest, as a credible online media platform to promote activities of budding writers and young journalists.

“Both NewsDigest and YouthsDigest are two notable media organisations that have created competitiveness among campus journalists. And as a matter of fact, the author of the investigative report, and other young writing talents who often contribute stories for the two mediums are reporters with untainted integrity.

“Thus, they are being engaged with by other credible and frontline media houses such as Premium Times, The Nation ICIR, Blueprint and the Cable among others to serve as their campus correspondent and reporters. Had it been they are known for writing fictitious or libellous stories, would they have been engaged by the mainstream media establishments?

The lawyer insisted that the alleged defamation was one that permitted both the NewsDigest’s Editor and webmaster to be granted bail.

“The alleged offence is not even one that necessitates arresting them. In fact, what the police did by arresting them can be compared to using a sledgehammer to kill an ant,” he said.

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