The Kwara State Chief Magistrate Court has rejected the application made by the Kwara State Government to order the arrest of National Pilot Newspaper reporter Ahmed Ajikobi by the Nigeria Police for investigation.
The Governor’s aide, Mr. Michael Fafoluyi, has filed a petition against Ajikobi and the medium, accusing them of publishing reports about Governor Mallam Abdulrahman Abdulrasaq which are allegedly defamatory and malicious.
Ajikobi was, however, docked along with the medium’s Managing Director/Editor-in-Chief, Alhaji Billy Adedamola, who stormed the court with other veteran journalists to represent the National Pilot Newspaper, which was sued under the registered name of ‘Mandate International Publication.’
Ajikobi and Adedamola were dragged before Chief Magistrate Shade Lawal for alleged offences including Criminal Conspiracy, Defamation, Inciting Public Disturbance, Injurious Falsehood, Cyber Stalking, among others.
At the resumed hearing yesterday, the prosecution counsel, Barrister S.O., in his application, prayed the court to refer the matter to the police for investigation.
The Magistrate frowned at the development, berating the prosecution for insisting that the court must order the police to take over the case that is already before him.
He said the prosecution should have taken the defendants to the police for investigation before the court’s arraignment.
The defense counsel, Barrister Owoniseola Micheal, reacted to the issue of the defendants’ bail, urging the court to discountenance the submission of his colleague seeking their remand in the Correctional facility.
He premised his argument on the basis that the defendants have reliable sureties who will stand for them, stressing further that the matter is not a capital offence, even as he urged the court to exercise its discretionary power in favour of the defendants.
Magistrate Lawal, in his short ruling, admitted the defendants to bail each in the sum of N500,000 and two sureties in like sum. One of the sureties must be a member of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), while the suit was adjourned to the 11th of next month.
It will be recalled that allegations against the National Pilot Newspaper were alluded to in the online and hardcopy publication of the National Pilot Newspaper, Vol. 34, No. 38 of Sunday, 15 May 2023, on the front page and page 2, with online publication at www.thenationalpilot.ng titled “Kwara Gov. Siblings Battle Over New Cabinet List, Other Appointments – Abdul Razaq keeping people guessing over cabinet dissolution.
Another publication in question was on the 16th of October 2023, with the caption: “Exclusive: Public Officials Cry Foul As Kwara Govt Allegedly Returns Multi-million Naira Defective Vehicles Purchased for Top Functionaries to Motor Dealer,” with a mixed photograph of His Excellency, Mallam Abdul Rahman Abdul Razaq and a vehicle image uploaded on the www.thenationalpilot.ng aforesaid newspaper website.