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Two journalists arrested for photographing statue, later released

(MRA/IFEX) - On 10 January 2008 at about 4:30 p.m. (local time), two journalists, Fidelis Mbah of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and Tade Oludayo of Silverbird Television and Rhythm FM radio, were arrested by government security agents in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital in south-west Nigeria, for taking photographs of a statue of the "Unknown Soldier" recently unveiled in front of the Government House.

They were detained at the security post at the gate to the Government House until they were released at about 5:30 p.m., following the intervention of the Aide-de-Camp to the state governor, identified simply as Salami.

Oludayo said they had sought and received clearance from the Special Adviser to the Governor on Public Communication, Mr. Dotun Oyelade, and the State Commissioner for Commerce, Dr. Kola Balogun, before going to the site.

He said they had just begun taking photographs of the Remembrance Arcade and the statue when policemen attacked and arrested them, adding that the intervention of Balogun and Oyelade, from whom they had earlier obtained clearance, did not impress the officers.

The digital video camera used by Oludayo was damaged by police, who forcefully seized it from him. The journalists were subjected to a series of embarrassing questions by the officers, some of whom threatened to shoot them.

Oludayo said: "The Guard Commander blamed the policemen for not shooting us. He said we are security risks as we have been attracting unnecessary attention to the statue."

"The GC asked us what was special about the statue that needed the attention of the BBC. He said there were many statues in Ibadan and that we should go and take their pictures."

The Oyo State government has been under intense criticism since 7 January, when Governor Alao-Akala unveiled the new sculpture to replace an earlier one of the late prominent politician, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, erected by former governor Lam Adesina.

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