24-year-old photojournalist, Yinka Badmus, pictured above, is reportedly in detention at Ikoyi Prison Lagos after he was allegedly arrested by policemen attached to the Lagos State Anti-Cultism unit for wearing dreadlocks, which the officers allegedly said made him look like a cultist.
According to Vanguard, Yinka was arrested while eating noodles, at Pedro Bus Stop, Gbagada on December 30th 2018. He was detained and was not allowed to contact his relatives or friends.
Yinka’s plight was brought to his family’s notice on January 3rd 2019 by a detainee who left the police cell. The detainee contacted Badmus’ relatives explaining to them that he had already spent three days in detention, contravening the stipulated instruction that every suspect must be charged within 24 hours.
His family members then contacted Yinka’s boss, Stephen Oguntoyibo, the owner of Talk Village International, to help secure his bail. It was gathered that when Stephen Oguntoyibo went to bail Badmus at the station, he was shocked to see the Police conveying him and other young men in a Black Maria to Ogudu Magistrate’s Court, Lagos, where he was eventually arraigned and remanded.
”At the Ogudu Magistrate’s Court, the resident judge asked that Badmus be granted bail and a lawyer in the magistrate court was attached to us. The lawyer subsequently requested for the following: means of ID proof, house rent receipt, NEPA bill, company ID and tax payment receipts for two years. He also received N10,000 and later the lawyer demanded another N20,000 for his service, with a promise that he would have a meeting with the judge and, thereby, effect Badmus’s release. On Tuesday, I called the lawyer with the intention of submitting the requested documents, so the boy can be released. The lawyer, again, demanded another N25,000 for bail bond, and also made me know that I would have to pay police for verification and other processes. Meanwhile, the boy has been remanded in Ikoyi Prison.”Oguntoyinbo said
National Coordinator of the Network for Police Reforms in Nigeria, Okechukwu Nwanguma, who has also been alerted over the case, wondered where it was a crime for anyone to wear dreadlocks.
“The Police officer was quoted as saying the guy was arrested because of his hairstyle. Where in the law is a hairstyle a crime? And why did the Police officer go ahead to charge him? Since he was granted bail, why did the lawyer keep making financial demands from the surety, including money for the Police to go and verify the surety’s residence? Isn’t that unbecoming of a lawyer? The innocent guy is languishing in prison, reported to be very sick, all because of a lawyer’s greed.” he said.