Prince Olamilekan Hammed, blogger and publisher of eaglesforesight.com.ng, has been arrested by operatives of Nigeria’s secret police, the Department of State Services (DSS).
The journalist was said to have been detained by the DSS, also known as State Security Service (SSS), during the weekend on the orders of the Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun.
According to his lawyer, Festus Ogun, he was invited by the agency over a report he published exposing the criminal activities of Abiodun.
“The Ogun State Command of the State Security Service (SSS) has arrested and detained blogger and publisher of eaglesforesight.com.ng, Prince Olamilekan Hammed (Lahbash) for reasons yet to be disclosed,” the lawyer said in a statement.
“Mr Hammed was invited for questioning by the service on Friday, an invitation which he honoured having nothing to fear as a law-abiding citizen and public-interest journalist.
“The supposed invitation bordered on reports published by the blogger exposing the criminal activities of Dapo Abiodun, the Governor of Ogun State in the United States.
“The public must observe the continuous desecration of the sacred principles of fair trial and right to legal representation by state agents incited by Mr Abiodun in an attempt to remedy his disgraceful past.
“Mr Hammed, since arrested, has continued to face unjust harassment, torture and intimidation for merely doing his job as a citizen journalist after being forced to pull down the story from his website.
“Given that journalism is not a crime in this country, the earlier invitations, recent arrest and subsequent detention of Prince Olamilekan Hammed by the SSS is completely illegal and (it is) a naked abuse of power. Sections 34, 35 and 39 of the 1999 Constitution are clear on this.
“If the embattled Governor is confident that the publication in question is defamatory, which in essence was amplifying publicly available records, he should tour the path of honour and approach a civil court for redress. Only the guilty are afraid.
“This naked abuse of power stands condemned. The willingness of lawless SSS to be used as tools of intimidation and state repression also stands condemned. For how long will this daylight fascism continue?
“The SSS must release Prince Olamilekan Hammed immediately and unconditionally. We will stop at nothing to enforce his media and human rights if our modest demands are not met immediately.”
SaharaReporters had in March published the criminal record of how Abiodun was jailed in 1986 for credit card fraud in Miami-Dade, Florida, USA.
The governor was said to have used a pseudo name (Shawn Michael Davids) with the aim of concealing his criminal identity.
The record revealed that Abiodun was jailed for committing criminal offences which bordered on credit card fraud, petty theft and cheque forgery.
He was arrested on November 7, 1986, for fighting and injuring a police officer in an attempt to resist arrest.
While being processed at the station, his fingerprint was run through the crime database and it was discovered that the Adedapo Oluseun Abiodun being processed for detention was the same as Shawn Michael Davids.
His criminal record and history were thus cemented and he was jailed.
According to some documents obtained by SaharaReporters, Abiodun’s jail number was 8600B9436.
In 2015, while contesting for the Ogun East Senatorial seat against the late Buruji Kasamu of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), he applied for the redaction of his criminal records in Miami-Dade, Florida.
This act of concealment meant he could lie on his Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) forms that he had no prior criminal records; a perjury offence that could have disqualified him from ever holding an appointive or elective office in Nigeria.
The redaction was granted in August 2015.