100 days after, Ogun-based Journalist, Lahbash still languishes in prison

Nigerian journalist, Bashiru Hammed Adewale Bashiru, has spent exactly one hundred days in detention.

Hammed who is also the publisher of Eaglesforesight (https://eaglesforesight.com.ng//) was arrested on May 1 for publishing a “misleading” story about the Governor of Ogun State, Dapo Abiodun.

An investigation carried out by MMC New York, the publisher of Parkchester Times, MCR, New York Parrot and Senegambia Parrot, revealed that Hammed had published an unverified story he copied from an online media platform, that Gov Abiodun was an “ex-convict who was arrested in 1986 for drug trafficking”.

While speaking to an MMC correspondent on Wednesday August 17, 2022, Hammed confirmed the publication of the story.

According to him, the governor and the operatives of the Department of State Security (DSS) believed he was bankrolled to publish the story to tarnish the image of the governor.

“I was first arrested on the 29th of April because I published a story a Governor Dapo Abiodun. The DDS operatives demanded to know who paid me to publish the story. They said I was bankrolled to damage the governor’s image,” Hammed said.

He added, “I explained to them I added a footnote to the story that if the story happened to be false, a message should be sent to the publisher.”

He explained that he was later released on a bail of one hundred thousand naira (N100,000) with a surety, followed by a rejoinder (https://eaglesforesight.com.ng/rejoinder-gov-abiodun-never-admitted-neither-to-committing-any-crime-nor-convicted-anywhere-beware-of-false-informations-prince-lahbash/) published on his website and an apology to the aggrieved governor.

After his release, he said he shared a memory of his encounter with the DSS with a caption on his WhatsApp status. “My ordeals with the government over the last weekend. I met myself in the lion’s den for over ten hours. I knew I was silent. Thank God for Femi Falana Chamber that opened my mind to lots of legal actions.”

Hammed told our correspondent that it was the caption that led to his re-arrest.

“I was invited on the 13th of May to meet the Director General of the DSS. As a law-abiding citizen, I honoured the invitation. I had nothing to fear. But I informed my lawyer because I had envisaged something serious with the way I was being frequently invited. It took about six hours before I was handcuffed and driven to Eleweran prison,” he told MMC journalist.

On the legal action being taken to facilitate his release from prison, Hammed stated that he had changed his lawyer following his failure to apply for a bail variation.

“I was given a serious bail condition I can’t meet. And I solicited the help of my lawyer, Festus Ogun, to apply for a bail variation if that will appeal to the court to reduce the bail.

“I was surprised that Ogun declined my solicitation, saying that even with the reduction, it is not certain I could not still meet the condition. That is disturbing,” he expressed his disappointment.

Hammed’s next hearing is slated for October 3, 2022. He is appealing for forgiveness.

“I am only appealing to Gov Dapo Abiodun to kindly forgive and pardon me. I have written a rejoinder and brought down the publication. Such will never repeat itself. I have learnt my lesson,” he pleaded.

When contacted, Festus Ogun confirmed his withdrawal from the case.

“I do not intend to comment on the circumstances of my withdrawal from the case. Just take note that I had withdrawn from the case even before a new lawyer was engaged. The new lawyer engaged is my friend. I had even told him I withdrew from the case before they went to approach him,” Ogun said.

He added, “I have withdrawn from his case. He prefers shortcuts. I insist on legality. Recall that I did the case for him for FREE. Spent a lot of my resources. Yet, he was everywhere saying sorts about me and my efforts. His character will take him ‘far’. I’ve done my best.”

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