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Newspaper correspondent arrested in Nigeria, assaulted while in detention

(MRA/IFEX) - On 22 October 2012 at about 4:00 p.m., the Osun State correspondent for the Daily Sun newspaper, Bamigbola Gbolagunte, was arrested and detained at the State Criminal Investigations Department (SCID) in Osogbo, the state capital. Gbolagunte was arrested over an allegedly offensive report he wrote, which was published by his media outlet on 19 October under the headline "Police officer found dead after Osun students riot".

The State Commissioner of Police, Kalatife Adeyemi, ordered his arrest, saying she was worried because the story was published without any consultation with her to seek confirmation of the story. She asked for a retraction of the story.

Gbolagunte was asked to write a statement about the story and was released after seven hours in detention. He disclosed that he was kept in a cell with common criminals and was severely beaten before he was later moved to another cell. "They welcomed me with two slaps and ordered me to kneel down, raise up my hands and close my eyes when I couldn't pay the N2,000 (approx. US$13) they demanded as my welcome fee," Gbolagunte said.

The Daily Sun retracted the story on the front page of its 23 October edition.

In a related incident, on 22 October, Adeyemi threatened to "deal with" Tunde Odesola, a state correspondent for The Punch newspaper. Several reporters, including Odesola, had gone to the SCID in Osogbo seeking bail conditions for Gbolagunte.

Odesola was explaining the need for a Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) who would understand how the media operate to Commissioner Adeyemi when she flared up in anger and threatened him.

The current PPRO, Sade Odoro, has reportedly been at constant loggerheads with journalists over information they have disseminated about the police command.

Adeyemi threatened Odesola in the presence of the Osun State commissioner for information and strategy, Sunday Akere, the state governor's special security adviser, Adekunle Amos, the director of the Bureau of Communication and Strategy, Semiu Okanlawon, and the other journalists who were present at the SCID.

Adeyemi, who had come from a closed door meeting with state government officials, reportedly said in their presence: "I don't hide my mouth. You, just continue," followed by a reference to "one day . . . you will slip."

"Since all of you [reporters] have agreed that my PRO is inefficient, we will see. To me, my PRO is efficient," she said.

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