Police officers stand guard during a protest in Lagos, Nigeria in July 2022. On September 29, 2022, police arrested journalist Ayodeji Adebayo at the office of The Nation in Nigeria’s capital Abuja following a politician's defamation complaint. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

Nigerian journalist Ayodeji Adebayo detained for 6 days over report about local politician

On September 29, 2022, two police officers arrested journalist Ayodeji Adebayo at the office of the privately owned newspaper The Nation in Wuse, a commercial hub in Nigeria’s capital Abuja, according to Adebayo, who spoke to CPJ by phone, and a report by privately owned Sahara Reporters news website. Adebayo is the publisher of the privately owned news website Daily Metro News and works as a freelance advert executive with The Nation.

The arrest followed a complaint by politician Akinlayo Davidson Kolawole over a September 9 report published by Daily Metro News alleging Kolawole’s involvement in fraud, according to those sources. Adebayo, who wrote the report, said police officers briefly showed him a copy of the complaint, in which Kolawole accused him of “defamation,” “threat to life” through alleged extortion, and “publication that can cause public unrest.”

The September 9 report, which CPJ reviewed, alleged that Kolawole and his associates promised to buy properties on behalf of a businessperson based in Nigeria’s southern Rivers State for 3 billion nairas (US$6.8 million) but took the money and failed to buy the properties.

Adebayo said he took the story offline the same day it was published at the request of an associate of Kolawole, who called him to request he remove the piece as it did not include Kolawole’s perspective. Adebayo agreed but told CPJ that subsequent attempts to interview Kolawole were unsuccessful as the politician changed the subject during the interview, adding that he has not reuploaded the story.

Kolawole told CPJ by phone that Adebayo tried to extort him for 30 million nairas (US$69,278) in exchange for removing the report. Adebayo told CPJ he denied the allegation, saying he had no reason to demand money from the politician.

On September 29, officers seized Adebayo’s phone and detained the journalist for a day at Wuse police station before transferring him to another station in southern Lagos state, he said.

On October 5, the journalist was released on the condition that he would return for questioning, he said. Adebayo said he postponed his visit to return to the station at least twice and, as of October 26, has yet to appear for questioning.  

Police returned Adebayo’s phone to him on October 6, he said, adding that he unlocked his phone at the officer’s request while he was detained.

Lagos Police spokesperson Benjamin Hundeyin told CPJ by phone that the department in Lagos is under the jurisdiction of the Abuja police. CPJ’s calls and messages to the Abuja Police spokesperson Josephine Adeh went unanswered.