Police Arrest Online Newspaper Editor, Webmaster Over Investigative Report

Gidado Yushau, Editor NewsDigest and Adebowale Adekoya, Webmaster

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

The NewsDigest’s Editor and webmaster were arrested in a Gestapo-like style for publishing an investigative news story titled, “Inside Kwara factory where Indian hemp smoking is ‘legalized”.

PRNigeria gathered that Gidado who is also the Editor of the YouthsDigest 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 factory, Hillcrest Agro-Allied Industry in Ilorin, is said to be owned by a former acting governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Mrs Sarah Alade.

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 as well as 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.

Four detectives, early Wednesday morning, left the Wuye Police Station with Gidado and Adekoya in a blue vehicle, en route Ilorin for further interrogation and with the intention of arresting Alfred.

In a telephone chat with PRNigeria, lawyer to the arrested NewsDigest’s staff, Barrister Yunus Abdulsalam, said it defies logic that something that happened last May will be resuscitated now, a year and a half after the report was published by the newspaper.

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 ‘illegal’ arrest portends for the future of campus journalism, Bar. 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.