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Mr. President, Was National Police Spokesperson Muyiwa Adejobi Under Substance Influence When He Threatened Journalists with the Chilling Words, "We Can Use Any Law to Nail You”

Feature Article Mr. President, Was National Police Spokesperson Muyiwa Adejobi Under Substance Influence When He Threatened Journalists with the Chilling Words, \
MON, 17 JUN 2024 LISTEN

When National Police Spokesperson Assistant Police Commissioner (ACP) Olumuyiwa Adejobi Declared to the Nation and Global Media His Threat to Use 'Any Law' Beyond Cyber Crime Against Journalists, Was He Under Substance Influence? And What Are the Implications for Press Freedom and the Perception of Law Enforcement's Integrity?

Concerns have been raised about the treatment of journalists in Nigeria, particularly in light of statements made by the Nigeria Police Force Spokesperson, Muyiwa Adejobi. The following instances, reported by various international and Nigerian media outlets, highlight the issues surrounding journalist abuse and the use of cybercrime laws in Nigeria.

FIJ, as reported by Yahoo News on May 9, 2024, highlighted that journalist Daniel Ojukwu was arrested in relation to a November story exposing government corruption. The arrest, allegedly under the cybercrime law, has sparked significant controversy. The incident questions the legal grounds and motivations behind such detentions.

According to Reuters on May 9, 2024, Ojukwu's detention exceeded the legal 48-hour limit without court appearance, raising concerns about human rights violations. The arrest was linked to a report on government corruption, igniting criticism from media rights groups like the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF). This prolonged detention without legal proceedings highlights potential abuses of power.

ABUJA (Reuters) reported on May 9, 2024, that Daniel Ojukwu, an investigative journalist, was detained for over a week under Nigeria's cybercrime laws. His employer, the Foundation for Investigative Journalism (FIJ), noted that Ojukwu went missing on May 1, only to be informed later of his detention. This incident underscores the systemic issues with press freedom and the legal limits on police detentions in Nigeria.

HumAngle, reporting on May 9, 2024, highlighted that Ojukwu remains in custody in Abuja, with police spokesperson Muyiwa Adejobi declining to provide updates. The lack of response and continued detention have raised further questions about the respect for journalistic rights and due process. The silence from the police spokesperson exacerbates the situation and raises international concerns, as noted by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.

On June 7, 2024, The Guardian Nigeria published a report titled "Journalists Don’t Have Immunity, Can Be Arrested, Says Police," emphasizing Muyiwa Adejobi's assertion that journalists do not have immunity from arrest. This broad interpretation of the law could be used against journalists, further endangering press freedom. Such statements from the police spokesperson cast doubt on the commitment to upholding human rights.

Further concerns were highlighted in a report by Nneoma Benson on June 7, 2024, where Muyiwa Adejobi reiterated that the police could use any law other than the Cyber Crime Act to prosecute journalists. Adejobi's warning against what he considered defamatory reports, made during a briefing organized by the Strategic Communications Interagency Policy Committee of the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) in Abuja, adds another layer of threat against journalistic freedom.

Various reports have indicated an increase in journalist arrests and abductions under the administration of President Bola Tinubu compared to his predecessor, Muhammadu Buhari. The Press Attack Tracker (PAT) recorded 37 incidents of press freedom violations between May 29, 2023, and May 29, 2024. These incidents include journalists being abducted from their homes or on their way to assignments and detained without a trace, demonstrating a disturbing trend of press suppression.

Psychologically, the statement "Police can use any law other than the Cyber Crime Act to nail you" is deeply troubling and warrants a thorough examination. From a psychological perspective, this statement can be interpreted as a clear manifestation of intimidation and coercion. Such rhetoric suggests an abuse of power and a willingness to manipulate legal frameworks to achieve desired outcomes. This approach can instill fear and uncertainty not only among journalists but also among the broader public, undermining trust in law enforcement and legal institutions.

The use of the phrase "to nail you" is particularly aggressive and hostile, indicating a punitive mindset rather than one focused on justice and due process. This choice of words suggests a desire to punish rather than to uphold the law impartially. The psychological impact of such statements is significant, as it can create an environment of fear and compliance, discouraging dissent and critical reporting.

Furthermore, the willingness to use "any law" other than the specific Cyber Crime Act highlights a potential disregard for the appropriate application of laws and legal standards. This could be seen as an indication of arbitrary and capricious behavior, where laws are applied selectively to target specific individuals or groups. Such behavior can lead to a culture of impunity, where law enforcement officials feel emboldened to act without accountability.

From a psychological standpoint, this statement may also reflect underlying issues within the police force, such as stress, pressure, or a defensive posture in response to criticism and scrutiny. It raises questions about the decision-making processes and the mental state of those in positions of power, suggesting a need for greater oversight and accountability. While we must try to find out if Adejobi was under the influence when he made all these undemocratic statements, it is important to consider that in a modern police climate, unlike in Nigeria where leadership often covers for each other, Adejobi as a human could also be under significant stress or even influenced by substances. I do not know if he is on drugs, alcohol, or other substances, but these words are alarming. Nigerian institutions need to help men like this through proper stress management or general psychological evaluations. The Nigerian Forensic Psychologists Association can provide testing, therapy, and support because these words are sickly, frightening, and worrisome. When persons like these are not monitored, before you know it, they climb the ladder of promotions, even up to Inspector General of Police, and then police issues continue.

One relief I have is the movement towards local and state police, making the Nigerian Police Force smaller and less stressful.

In his own words, Muyiwa Adejobi stated: “It’s not that we are applying the Cybercrime Act for witch-hunt. Also, it is not to oppress or subvert press freedom in Nigeria. I am not saying you should not be a whistleblower, but if you want to be one, you must get your facts right.” This statement attempts to downplay concerns about press freedom but simultaneously sets a restrictive condition for whistleblowing, which can deter journalists from reporting on sensitive issues.

“The fact that somebody is a journalist does not grant him immunity over certain things. You are criminally liable once an offence has been laid against you and the police must take it up.” This quote highlights a fundamental misunderstanding or disregard for the role of journalists in a democracy. It suggests a punitive approach rather than one of protecting press freedom.

“Let me put it on record that if a petition has been written against you as a certified journalist, the best is to honour the invitation and get across to the office of the Force spokesperson.” Does he realize that other nations have journalists too? Is this man saying that once anyone, I repeat, anyone writes a petition against a journalist, the police must investigate, arrest, and detain them for more than 48 hours? Where does this madness end? This statement is an implicit threat, pressuring journalists to comply with police invitations regardless of the legitimacy of the claims against them. In most democratic climates, defamation is a civil matter. The complainant should file a lawsuit directly against the individual, not involve the police. Petitions from a pastor, a businessperson, or current and former government officials should not lead to police involvement. This practice must stop. Even in cases of significant defamation, the proper procedure is to take the matter to court. The police should not be involved in civil disputes, as is standard in most democracies. The police's role is not to serve as a tool for harassment or intimidation in civil matters.

“Some of them you claimed have been victimised have not contacted me. Everybody is a journalist; we practise citizen journalism in Nigeria.” By minimizing the professionalism of journalists, this statement undermines their credibility and suggests that anyone can be targeted, furthering the environment of intimidation.

“As a trained police officer, I may decide not to use the Cybercrime Act to prosecute you. With my training, I must be able to lay my hands on many laws to nail you if I want to.” This quote is particularly chilling as it explicitly states an intent to find any legal means to prosecute, which is a clear abuse of power and a direct threat to press freedom.

“Defamation of character is a law defined under the Cybercrime Act and the Criminal Act of this country defines defamation as an offence. If somebody publishes something wrong against you, as a Nigerian, you have the right to take it up.” While addressing defamation, this statement conflates legitimate legal recourse with a threat to use these laws to target and silence journalists.

Given the odd nature of these statements and actions, it is crucial to question whether such statements reflect a systemic issue within the Nigerian police force or are influenced by other factors, potentially including the psychological state of those making these statements. Was Muyiwa Adejobi under any influence when he made these remarks? This question remains pertinent as we analyze the broader implications for journalist safety and legal integrity in Nigeria. The global concern about these issues is evident, as major publications and human rights organizations continue to monitor and report on these abuses.

While we must try to find out if this man was under the influence when he made all these undemocratic statements, the words from President Bola Tinubu on Democracy Day offer some relief but also call for cautious optimism. On June 12, 2024, President Tinubu vowed, "I vow to do my utmost best to protect your rights, freedoms, and liberties as citizens of Nigeria."

Amidst what observers and critics describe as the shrinking of the civic space with the rampant harassment and detention of journalists and activists, President Bola Tinubu said his administration is committed to protecting the rights and liberties of Nigerians. Mr. Tinubu spoke in a broadcast to mark Nigeria's Democracy Day celebrated on June 12. He began by affirming his commitment to democracy and the constitutional rights of Nigerian citizens.

"As president of this nation, I am morally and constitutionally bound to preserve this precious form of governance," the Nigerian leader said of democracy. "I vow to do my utmost best to protect your rights, freedoms, and liberties as citizens of Nigeria."

Reflecting on Nigeria's 25-year journey of democracy, President Tinubu emphasized the importance of resolving differences through dialogue rather than force, and ensuring that leaders serve the common good rather than narrow interests. "Democracy demands that we do not resolve differences through force and repression. We make allowance for the legitimacy of views that differ from our own," the president said.

While vowing to uphold democratic governance in the country, he warned against tendencies that might exploit current challenges to undermine democracy. "There are those among us who will try to exploit current challenges to undermine, if not destroy, this democracy for which so much has already been given," he cautioned.

Beyond political democracy, he emphasized the need for economic democracy, aiming to build a Nigeria where no one is oppressed. "I take on this vital task without fear or favor and I commit myself to this work until we have built a Nigeria where no man is oppressed," he said.

President Tinubu also paid tributes to the nation's journalists and media establishments for their pivotal roles in the fight against military dictatorship, highlighting the importance of human rights and free speech. He acknowledged the significant contributions of media outlets such as The Punch, The Guardian, National Concord, Tribune as well as The News/Tempo and TELL magazines. These institutions and their journalists faced severe repercussions, including proscription and imprisonment for defending civil liberties during the military regime.

The President recounted the struggle against the military government, where the power of the people eventually overcame dictatorship. Nigeria exited military rule in 1999, emerging as the most populous democracy in Africa and one of the largest democracies in the world. The Democracy Day transition marked a significant moment in human history.

However, despite Tinubu's assurances, his avowed commitment to upholding democratic ethos and press freedom have not been translated into reality in his one year in office. Arbitrary arrests and detention of citizens and clampdown on journalists by the police and other security agencies were on the rise in his one year in office.

Which team do you think has the higher chance of winning the 2024 elections?

Started: 02-07-2024 | Ends: 31-10-2024

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