It is an absolute disappointment that a government seeks to cripple press freedom or at the very least, freedom of expression in this modern time.
The publisher of Taraba Truth and Facts and CEO of Rock FM 92.3 Jalingo Oloye Ayodele Samuel was on Monday November 29 remanded at the Taraba State Police Command despite Meeting bail conditions.
Ayodele Samuel was arraigned at a magistrate court in Jalingo, presided by his worship, Garba S. Garba on a two count charge of defamation and injurious falsehood.
Prior to the arraignment he had honoured two police invitations over separate petitions from the Taraba state government and has conducted himself with regard for law.
Thereafter Mr. Ayodele had raised alarms that government agents have tapped his call lines and are tracking his movements.
The charges were filed against him by the Gov. of Taraba State, Darius Dickson Ishaku, through the office of the Attorney General of the state.
It comes as a reaction from nurtured grievance over a publication on page 5 of the Taraba Truth and Facts Newspaper, dated September 17, 2022 with the title “Taraba for Sale”.
The publication alleges a possible sale of the Taraba state-owned Mambilla Beverages Company and state properties, including the liaison office in Abuja.
Similar publications had appeared on other other prominent Nigerian media prior to the publication on Taraba Truth and Facts without rebuttal.
Sources have claimed that Governor Ishaku has not been able to reconcile with the reality of someone from a different region having significant impact over the media in the state.
It has also been heard that on some occasion the Governor spoke of the publisher with disdain, even as of yesterday at the state house of assembly when he ought to be defending the 2023 budget.
On the contrary, in a sane society, the accused should have been recognised and honoured as a pacesetter for establishing the first private radio station amidst his numerous achievements in Taraba state.
Taraba Truth and Facts and Rock FM are considered by Tarabans as mediums of ventilating their grieves, making their demands and getting credible information.
Therefore, subduing the foreman of these organisations can be narrowed down to a suffocation of free speech, freedom of information and ultimately journalism.
The consequence goes beyond the issue in perspective as tarabans are agitated over the government position on the matter and their fashion of addressing it and have been demanding his release.
Ayodele Samuel had at the court pleaded not guilty to the charges and his counsel applied for bail successfully, which the magistrate had described as ordinary bailable cases.
The bail conditions were ten million naira fee, two sureties resident in Jalingo having landed properties worth five million naira each.
There were about 12 persons willing to surety instantly, including two pastors but only two would have to help fulfill the bail conditions.
Subsequently, the bail conditions were met but it is quite unclear how the publisher has been remanded, but what is certain is the treacherous abuse of power by the state government.
Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) should wade in to forestall what could lead to a pattern in the governance of the state, thereby depriving the people access to relevant information.
It is a beyond shameful situation and we hope that the government have a quick change of heart and obey court verdict.
Lance Momodu Jnr,
Writes from Jalingo,