A minister and a minstrel

It is a collision between political and poetic power. The poet seeks to speak the truth to power; and the politician seeks to silence the voice of truth.


This is the image, more than three weeks after the police arrested Rotimi Jolayemi, journalist and oral poet, also known as Oba Akewi, on May 5, and detained him in Abuja

Information and Culture Minister Alhaji Lai Mohammed must be ashamed that his name is linked to Jolayemi's absurd arrest and detention.

Mohammed should also be ashamed that the police arrested and detained Jolayemi's wife and brothers in order to force the journalist to give up.


"His wife, Dorcas, and his brothers – John Jolayemi and Joseph Jolayemi – were all detained in Kwara state" and "were held in detention for eight days, nine days and two days, respectively, as hostages, while the journalist was being held. sought, ”According to a statement by the Human Rights Defense Committee (CDHR).

According to Jolayemi's wife, “They said they wanted to arrest my husband and he fled to Maro, in Kwara state. They said it was I who advised him to run away and hang up the phone. They played a recording of my phone conversation with my husband.


“Apparently, they had bothered my phone and my husband's. I admitted that I actually told my husband to run away, but it wasn't a crime because I didn't take him in. I just asked him not to come home, which a typical wife would do.

I heard that the police wanted to arrest him and did not know why they wanted to arrest him. I told him to run because I wanted him to be safe. They said so, I would pay for it. I was taken before their boss and the man insulted me, calling me a stupid woman.

He said that I shouldn't have advised my husband to run away. The man said I would pay for it and they accepted my statement. I was there from April 29th to May 6th. "

She added: “While I was in detention, they made a recording of the poem that was recited by my husband. They asked if I could confirm that the voice belonged to my husband and I said it was his voice.


They said how my husband could be insulting Lai Mohammed, a minister. They said it was Lai Mohammed who ordered him to be arrested.


After Jolayemi surrendered to the police in Ilorin, Kwara state, the police took more than two weeks to file a complaint against him. The prosecution read: “May you, Jolayemi Oba Akewi, male, 43, on April 14, 2020 or more, on April 14, 2020 at the Osolo Ekan Nla Complex, Kwara State, under the jurisdiction of this court , sent an audio message via his Android device phone to a group WhatsApp platform known as & # 39; Ekan Sons and Daughters & # 39; and that went viral immediately after being posted with the aim of causing annoyance, insult, hatred and ill will against the current Minister of Information and Culture, Federal Republic of Nigeria, Alhaji Lai Mohammed and thus committed an offense contrary to Section 24 (1) (b) of the Cyber ​​Crime Law (Prohibition, Prevention, etc.) of 2015. ”

The "audio message" in question was a critical oral poetry by Jolayemi, who is also vice president of the Association of Freelance and Independent Broadcasters of Nigeria, chapter of Osun State. Then, Jolayemi will be judged for his poetic criticism. It is not clear whether he is also being accused of making his poetry viral.

The minister's spokesman, Segun Adeyemi, said his boss should not be held responsible for Jolayemi's problem with the police.

Who complained to the police? Why did the police desperately arrest and detain the journalist's wife and brothers? This was unfair, irrational and illegal. The CDHR said Jolayemi was being detained illegally by the Federal Investigation Department of the Nigeria Police Force, Abuja. Why?

It may be that the minister is not responsible for the actions of the police. But he should be concerned that such actions have been taken in relation to an issue that concerns him.

Jolayemi's wife also said her family tried to persuade Mohammed to drop the case. According to my brothers-in-law, they sent representatives to ask Lai Mohammed to drop the case.

They said that the Oba of Ilala, in the state of Kwara, and some other traditional rulers went to the minister to plead with him, but he refused to respond.

Some even went to the minister's hometown in Oro to plead with the elders in their community, but there was no positive response. ”These efforts to placate Mohammed suggest that the journalist’s family is right about their role in the case.

What prompted Jolayemi to compose the oral Yoruba poem in question? It is blunt work, full of printable lines. The poet also punched the minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development Sadiya Umar Farouk. Jolayemi's work is not panegyric.

It is confrontational and provocative. The poet was probably not prepared for the police, which is why he hid himself initially. Did he expect Mohammed to laugh at the content of the poem?

However, the content of the poem does not justify the arrest and detention of the poet. It also does not justify the arrest and detention of his wife and brothers.

People in power need to learn to live with criticism, even the dirty type. The reckless reaction, supposedly by Mohammed, only helped to attract even more public attention to the content of the poem.

Jolayemi has been accused of committing "an offense contrary to Section 24 (1) (b) of the Cyber ​​Crime Act (Prohibition, Prevention, etc.) of 2015". Section 24 (1) of the Act has made it an offense for anyone to “knowingly or intentionally send a message or other matter through computer network systems that (b) he knows to be false, with the aim of causing annoyance, inconvenience, danger, obstruction, insult, injury, criminal intimidation, enmity, hatred, ill will or unnecessary anxiety to another or causes this message to be sent. "

The conviction sentence for such an offense is a fine of up to N7,000,000 or imprisonment for up to three years or both.

In that case, the prosecution will have to prove that the poet's criticisms are based on falsehood. But that's it?

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