A 24-year-old photojournalist, Yinka Badmus, working with Talk Village International, has been arrested and remanded in Ikoyi Prison, for allegedly rocking a hairstyle, which some policemen felt made him look like a cultist.
Badmus, who had just bagged a scholarship, was arrested for committing no crime by policemen attached to the Lagos State Police Command Anti-Cultism Unit.
The NewTelegraph reports that the only crime committed by Badmus was wearing dreadlocks, which is the trend among today’s youths. Presently, Badmus, who was alleged to have been badly beaten by prison inmates as a ‘welcoming party batch,’ is now critically ill. His boss, Stephen Oguntoyinbo, Chief Executive Officer of Talk Village International, convener of the Lens Adventure, a project which attracts young people to use filmmakers and photographers as toolkit of advocacy, said he received disturbing phone calls from prison warders, urging him to ensure Badmus was granted bail and taken to hospital to ensure he did not die.
Oguntoyinbo disclosed that the calls disturbed and alarmed him. He explained that Badmus was arrested on December 31, while eating noodles in the community he lives. He was arrested by policemen from Anti-Cultism Unit, Pedro Bus Stop, Gbagada. It was learnt that after Badmus was detained, the policemen refused to allow him to contact anyone.
While Badmus was in detention, trying to convince the policemen that he was not a cultist, friends and family had become frantic with worry, searching for him. Badmus’ whereabouts was eventually known after a detainee, who was granted bail, contacted one of Badmus’ relatives. He had already spent three days in police detention, contravening the stipulated instruction that every suspect must be charged within 24 hours.
Oguntoyinbo said: “After days in detention, Yinka was able to send a message to a close relative on January 3. He was found at the station. The information given by the police was that he was arrested at Surulere, Lagos because of his hairstyle.
I was asked to come to Gbagada Police Station on January 4, to bail him and see the officer in charge of his case.” When Oguntoyinbo went to bail Badmus, he was shocked to see the police conveying him and other young men in a Black Maria. The photographer was arraigned at Ogudu Magistrate’s Court, Lagos and remanded.
The National Coordinator of the Network for Police Reforms in Nigeria (NOPRIN), Okechukwu Nwanguma, furious over the continual incarceration of a promising young man, said: “Two things; the police officer was quoted as saying the guy was arrested because of his hairstyle. Where in the law is a hairstyle a crime?” The state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), CSP Chike Oti, confirmed Badmus’ arrest. “Badmus was arrested along with others for unlawful gathering. They were arrested with a bag of Indian hemp,” he said.
Got a story? send it to us via email email@example.com