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Court remands journalist in prison over hairstyle

An Ogudu chief magistrate court yesterday ordered the remand at Ikoyi prison of a 24-year-old photojournalist with Talk Village

International, Yinka Badmus, for allegedly sporting a hairstyle that some policemen concluded made him a cultist.

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Badmus, who his employer said had just bagged a scholarship, was arrested by policemen attached to the Lagos State police command Anti-Cultism unit for allegedly wearing a dreadlock.

According to the journalist’s employer, Stephen Oguntoyibo, the

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Chief Executive Officer of Talk Village International, convener of the Lens Adventure, a project that attracts young people to use films and photography as a toolkit for advocacy, he had received disturbing phone calls from prison warders urging him to ensure Badmus was granted bail and taken to a hospital to ensure he did not die.

Oguntoyibo explained that policemen from the Anti-Cultism unit,

Pedro bus stop, Gbagada, Lagos, arrested Badmus on December 31, 2018 while he was eating noodles in the community where he lives.

Oguntoyinbo said the policemen described Badmus as a cultist, detained him and wouldn’t allow him to contact anybody. His whereabouts was eventually known after a detainee, who was granted bail, contacted one of Badmus’ relatives. The journalist was said to have already spent three days in police detention before then.

Oguntoyibo said, “After three days in detention, Yinka was able to send a message to a close relative on January 3. He was found at the station. The information given by the police was that he was arrested at Surulere, Lagos, because of his hairstyle.  I was asked to come to the Gbagada police station on January 4 to bail him and see the officer in charge of his case.”

Oguntoyibo said when he went to bail Badmus, he was shocked to see the police conveying him and other young men in a Black Maria to be arraigned at the Ogudu magistrate court.

Oguntoyibo further said, “At the Ogudu court, the resident judge asked that Yinka be granted bail and a lawyer in the magistrate court was attached to us. The lawyer subsequently requested for a proof means of identity, a house rent receipt, NEPA bill and tax payment evidence for two years. He also collected N10,000.

“After this, the lawyer demanded for another N20,000 for his service, with a promise that he would have a meeting with the magistrate and effect Yinka’s release. On Tuesday, I called the lawyer to submit the requested documents so the boy could be released. The lawyer again demanded for another N25,000 for bail-bond and also made me to know that I would have to pay the police for verification and other processes. Meanwhile, the boy had been remanded in Ikoyi prison.”

Oguntoyibo disclosed that between Sunday and yesterday, he had been inundated with phone calls from prison, alerting him that Badmus’ health was deteriorating.

The national coordinator of the Network for Police Reforms in

Nigeria, Okechukwu Nwanguma, furious over the continued incarceration of the journalist, said, “Two things: the police officer was quoted as saying the guy was arrested because of his hair style. Where in the law is a hair style a crime? And why did the police officer go ahead to charge him? Since he was granted bail, why did the lawyer keep making financial demands from the surety, including money for the police to verify the surety’s residence? Isn’t that unbecoming of a lawyer? The innocent guy is languishing in prison, reported to be very sick, all because of a lawyer’s greed.”

 


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