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Explainer: Bwacha Cannot Be On Ballot Despite Yola Appeal Court Victory

By P. D Pius esq. There are two judgments of the Federal High Court nullifying the election of Bwacha as APC candidate. There is the judgmen...

My Ordeal At FCID By Ayodele Samuel


•Bwacha's Petition Watery, Weak 

• Police Asked Many Questions About My Radio Station, Stay In Taraba

• Complainant Opted For ADR, Amidst  Widespread Criticisms



 

In this interview,  publisher of Taraba based Truth and Fact Newspaper and owner of Rock FM Jalingo, Oloye  Ayodele Samuel shares his ordeal at the Police's Federal Criminal Investigation Department FCID Abuja where he was detained after honouring an invitation regarding a petition written by Senator Emmanuel Bwacha

Can you please introduce yourself?

 My name is Oloye Ayodele Samuel. I am a journalist and also a media entrepreneur. I run a newspaper in Taraba state and a radio station there. Taraba Truth and Facts Newspaper which I started about six years ago and the radio station which is about four months called Rock FM 92.3 Jalingo.

 

We learnt you are one of the leading media entrepreneur in Taraba state and recently you honored a police invitation at FCID Abuja, can you tell us more about it?

 

Thank you for that compliment on that note. I'm a journalist, this is not the first time I'm honoring police invitations, we go and explain our own side and they let us go but what was wrong at this particular instance is my detention, it was uncalled-for.  About two weeks ago, I received a call from one DSP Sunday Idowu requesting for my attention at the FCID, Abuja over a petition. At that time, the petitioner nor the content of the petition was  not disclosed to me. And as a law-abiding citizen, I have nothing to fear. but he only told me that it is related to my practice in Taraba state and then I told him I will make myself available. We agreed on a date for the meeting at the FCID, and I was there. I honored the police invitation.

On getting to the FCID, I was told me that the petition was from Senator Emmanuel Bwacha, senator representing Taraba Southern Senatorial District at the National Assembly and the governorship candidate of the All Progressive Congress APC in Taraba State. I said OK, there is no problem about that, so he now took me to an Assistant Commissioner for Police in charge of that department, ACP YY Abubakar and then the man reassured that there was nothing serious to fear or worried about,  it was just an invitation  because I went with an associate and a lawyer provided by the Media Right Agenda, MRA , they gave me legal support during the case. ACP YY Abubakar said, that there was no need for me to have come with all these people that it's just a questions and answers and probably for me to respond to the questions in the petition, that it is not something too serious. That was in the morning because we arrived there around 10:15am.

So, from there I was taken for interrogation and the petition was presented to me and the petition was basically on accusing me of defamation of character, cyber stoking and malicious publication which was premises on an open letter I wrote to him some times ago which was titled: An Open Letter To Senator Emmanuel Bwacha: Why He Should Leave Me Alone And Face His Many Demons, he however added some copies of our previous publications which he considers defamatory to his petition but it centers mainly on the open letter.

 

One of it was when we did a story on the report by the ICPC Report that indicted him on Constituency Projects, another of the story attached was a letter he wrote 1999 against General T.Y Danjuma which we reported, and recently, the 'Babu candidate Babu Zabe' story that was published in a crafted Hausa headline in our Newspaper. I think those were the four stories selected and attached to the petition. Aside from that, I was only accused of cyber- bullying, defamation of character based on the open letter.

When I got there, I attended to the petition. I stood by the open letter because I wrote it in the first place and is already in the public domain. So, I did not deny the knowledge of it. It is an open letter written by me to him. I think his major concern in the open letter was the word 'demon'. Because he kept referring to the word 'demon', so after giving time to have responded, I was interrogated and I provided answers to the best of my ability. I have it on record where the Senator called me 'Evil' and was ready to present evidences.

The petition lacks merits, it was watery, weak. The petition looks like something that was written by a secondary school leaver. I was disappointed it was signed by a lawyer. And the complainant did not also include in his petition an article written by his media aide discrediting me,  my own open letter was at the response of an article written by its media aide but he denied Rikwense Muri was his media aide during  questioning, he  said they are just 'boys hanging around him, looking for what to eat' . So he would not be held liable for their actions.

But my own letter was as a result of what was written by those boys about me. So not like he was just sleeping and in the following morning, he saw an open letter, his media team triggered it.

Something was very surprising then, there were a lot of emphasis on my stay in Taraba state and about the radio station which does not really correlate with the petition. The newspaper and the radio station are two different businesses. At the radio station, I don't have editorial control. I only work in few departments there, maybe marketing and programs. I really don't know what happens in the technical department or News room of the radio station. Though I am the CEO, but we have a General Manager that manages the radio station, we have the Director of Operations that is there. Every unit has its own head. So, the radio station is totally different from the newspaper business. I am the Managing Editor of the newspaper at the same time the Publisher and the Chief Executive Officer of the radio station. You understand, it is a business chain that I am trying to build for myself, just like the same way I sell food stuff from Taraba, Benue in Lagos, I supply yam, rice to Lagos and Ondo markets. So, if something happens to the yam or rice will you link it to the radio station? If I supply yam and something spoil, will the person come and shut down the newspaper? So, I think we should clarify that aspect of it. But it was very funny a prepared questions was sent in from God knows where and I felt the questions was written even before my visit to the FCID. One of the question was: Am I a license broadcaster?  I laughed and the answer is I am a trained Journalist from the Nigeria Institute of Journalism Ogba. And there is no agency that license broadcasters in this country. It is a free talent career field whereby if you are talented, you can go into Broadcasting. Either you are a tailor, lawyer, paper seller. If you can broadcast, if you have the good voice, if you have the charisma of a broadcaster, you can do it. So, we don't have any agency of government that license broadcasters in Nigeria. A lot of questions about how did I procure my license for the radio station. A lot of questions on why I am broadcasting in Taraba state? Just simply putting like Why am I doing business in Taraba State? And a lot of questions that why am I dabbling into politics in Taraba State?

 

 I am not a member of any political party. I have never attended any political party meeting both in Taraba and at the national level. I am a journalist. So those questions were unwarranted for in the first place. Because they were not related to the petition we were treating. There were too many emphases on the radio station and it really worries me, my statements are with the police at FCID.

Let me also let you know that severally, the boys around the Senator have always profile me and my businesses along ethnic line. Is it a crime to be a Yoruba man to own and run businesses in Taraba State? Who has challenged any Tarabans who is doing business in Lagos, or other parts of the state for doing business there? So many Tarabans have businesses outside their states and nobody is harassing them, Even the senator has business interest across other states in this country, has anybody challenged him of doing business there. The Senator said I should not dabble into the political affairs of Taraba State. Am I political appointee of any party? Joe Igbokwe in Lagos is from Anambra, he was the Publicity Secretary of the APC in Lagos. I can play politics in any place I choose to, if I decide to play politics, is not compulsory because I'm from Ondo state, so I have to play politics in Ondo state. So it was very disturbing when the Senator said I should not dapple into the political affairs of Taraba State. I'm not dappling into the political affairs of Taraba State, we only report the activities, social cultural, we report politics, economy, governance and many more.

 

Like you said it was an invitation which as a responsible citizen you honoured, at what point where you detained?

 

Around evening after have answered all the questions and we are waiting for what next,  DSP Sunday Idowu brought out a warrant of arrest dated 8th of July from a Senior Magistrate Court in Mararaba, Nasarawa state. Note  I was invited on the 13th of July, so they have even procured the warrant of arrest since the 8th July. You have not invited me and I did not show so it was very illegal to have procured a warrant of arrest on me because if there is a petition you could have just say come let's see you. If I refuse to come, you can now enforce the law. But they did it the other way round, got the warrant of arrest. So, after that the man said OK, he has to administer this warrant of arrest on me and that was going toward around 5:30pm-6pm. And said now, I am officially arrested and I will be detained. I said for what? He said the petition. I said what is criminal about the petition this is a civil matter but I kept cool. In the first place if the senator was aggrieved on our publications, he supposed not to go to a police station. He supposed to go to a court of law and that's what makes it a clear case of harassment, intimidation and attempt to silence me.

So it was at this point that the warrant of arrest was carried out on me and I was detained, after about an hour around closing of work, we were given a bail condition but it was obvious we won't meet up that condition that very night so I had to spend a night at the FCID cell. It was a de-humanizing experience. 

 

  Let's get it clear at the point you were invited, and you responsibly and honorably went there in honor of the invitation and it was when you went there that they now served you with warrant of arrest?

 

Ayo: Exactly, and that raised a lot of question. You see the judicial system in this country and policing is improving in our country but I think is very wrong to have gone that way, so I was invited, I was detained around 7pm at a time when they know that it would be difficult for us to process bail because is a billable offence. But there was a premeditated mindset that they want to keep me in captivity because we have heard that the petitioner, Senator Emmanuel Bwacha, people around him have severally said they will keep me out of circulation for the election. So here I am in detention, somebody was just flexing his power to keep me in the captivity.

 

Well, you have talked about the content of the petition which you did respond to, but how did the police treat you?

 In fairness to the police at FCID, they treated me very nicely, they were no intimidation, torture nor any form of harassment. And I think if we can model what I saw at the FCID down to the downstream of the police, policing system would improve. The police environment was clean and conducive, I was treated nice, I was not tortured, I was not harassed in any way. The police treated me with courtesy and caution, we interacted well. They asked their questions and I answered them.

But it was obvious there was a plan. A plan to keep me in detention, probably a plan to take me to court and get me remanded with a long adjournment. We know how these things work in this country.

But I am very happy because a lot of people intervened. From  Federal lawmakers, senior journalists, several Media Right Organizations, a lot of people. Traditional rulers started calling and the police were put in public scrutiny to do what was right, that is how I was let go. If not, by now probably you would not have access to talk to me.

 

Was the complainant invited the moment you got to the Police?

No, the following day. The complainant was invited and we sat face to face for interrogation by  ACP YY Abubakar, myself, Senator Bwacha, DSP Sunday Idowu, and one female CSP, I can't recall her name now and my lawyer, we were the only one in that meeting.

At that meeting, the senator was asked to buttress his petition against me; he raised a lot of unfounded allegations. That I am working for the state government. I dare put it on record today, that I have never executed one contract for Taraba State Government, either directly or by proxy. Taraba State Government aside from money for advertorial published in my newspaper some of which they are still owing me self, I have never collected money from Taraba State Government. Then I said, how? Bring evidence you said they gave me money to fight you? How? Is it cash? Did they bring it cash? Is it by a bank transaction? The records should be there. But there is this allegation from the Senator that I am working against him for the state government, am I a civil servant? Am I an appointee of the State Government?

 

Ok, Let's get this clear, from the petition and all that you said about the petition was concerning the publication in the Taraba Truth and Facts Newspaper but you said it is because of your radio station. How come? Because these are two different establishments. The other one is print and the other one is broadcast?

 

 The content or everything that was related to the petition is in the newspaper but the question they were asking me is about the radio station.  Remember that the complainant Senator Emmanuel Bwacha just opened a radio station in Jalingo Taraba State and this could have been a case of less intimidation to shut down Rock FM., lets strike the shepherd and the sheep will scatter, It is a strategy.

 

The radio station had not at anytime said anything about Senator Emmanuel Bwacha. So it was wrong joining the radio station in the petition in the first place. It was wrong asking me why did I put a radio station in Taraba State, it was wrong asking me what is my interest in Taraba state.

What's my interest, how? I'm not a member of any party. Taraba Truth and Facts have been publishing story in many angles. We don't support anybody and we are not against anybody. We write our stories, fair and balance. The radio station is there broadcasting, doing it fair and balance. So the was no time that the radio station is saying something about Senator Emmanuel Bwacha but the emphasis was on the radio station. They were asking where the office of the radio station is. These are petty, if you want to know our office, just call your State Command in Jalingo because they know our office, the DSS knows our office. The DSS knows that I a licensed broadcast organization, is not an illegal broadcast organization. They could have written to NBC.

 

So how was the matter resolved?

 

 At that meeting, the senator was asked what he wanted and he said I should stop reporting about him and I said no, you are a public office holder, you are a Senator , you are representing the people of Taraba State, southern Taraba. The newspaper focuses  on Taraba State, so we will continue report about you, like every other public office holders. But mind you sir, we have never reported about your personal life, we did not report about your family, we are only reporting you in the light  of the public duty you have represented yourself to be. When the Senator was not allowed to land at the airport in Jalingo, we wrote against it. I asked him if he give us money before doing that? I  asked him, he said no.   But he was not allowed to land at the airport. Even our flagship columnist wrote about it, condemning that action. Today, the people in the government are accusing me of working for Senator Emmanuel Bwacha; Senator Emmanuel Bwacha is accusing me of working for the Government. These allegations are baseless and childish.

And I restate to him severally, that I don't have anything personal against you. I have always says that. The Senator himself, called a former commissioner in Taraba State Emmanuel Bello and placed the call on loudspeaker. The former commissioner told him, told him that this young man, has always been saying that he doesn't have anything against you. He's only doing his job. He has told us severally, you were the one that said, you don't like to work with him, and the police were shocked because they had expected the person at the other end to buttress some claims of the Senator.

Senator Emmanuel Bwacha said he wants a peaceful resolution and an apology, I said sir, I have not offended you, your allegations against me are untrue, only the court of law can say who is guilty and who is not guilty. What is the peaceful resolution? He said I should stop reporting about him and I said no, we will continue to report you, fair and balance, we will continue to write about you as a public office holder, your activities as a public office holder, as a Senator, as a Governorship candidate of a major political party, which is of public interest, we will continue to report these at all time. I heard his media team saying that I begged him, beg for what? It's only when you commit a crime before you beg. Those who alleged that I begged were not there and should not be taken serious. That was how the issue was resolved and the police closed the case but if the Senator is not okay with the interview with me, he should reopen the case. The files are there, my statement is there, he made his statement too, we have everything on records, I told him.

 

When I challenged the Senator that his Media aides said that I will be deported from Taraba State when he becomes the governor, the Senator did not deny it but he said those people are not his media aide and was not speaking for him.


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