A popular Ogun base blogger from Sagamu, Bashiru Hammed Adewale Olamilekan, aka Prince Lahbash, who was arrested and sent to prison allegedly in connection with a story he published about the Governor of Ogun State, Dapo Abiodun, speaks to our Correspondent and SEGUN ODUNAYO from Punch about his detention experience.
Tell us a bit about yourself:
My name is Bashiru Hammed Adewale Olamilekan, popularly known as Prince Lahbash. I am the founder and publisher of eaglesforesight.com.ng. I am an indigene of Sagamu Remo in Ogun State.
You recently regained freedom after months of detention, what led to your arrest and detention?
I republished a story on April 27, 2022, that exposed the alleged past records of the executive Governor of Ogun State, Prince Dapo Abiodun. The story was culled from the website of Peoples Gazette and was republished on my site (eaglesforesight.com.ng).
What was your experience like in detention?
It was a bitter experience. I wish I could erase it from my memory. I was brutalised. I was treated like a criminal, despite securing bail of a sum of one hundred thousand naira (N100,000) to DSS on my first arrest and having a surety that same day on April 29; I remember it was a Friday. My third arrest was on May 13. That was my third invitation by the DSS. I honoured the invitation because I knew I had nothing to fear or hide.
How did it feel like spending 138 days in prison?
I did not see myself as a criminal neither did I feel guilty. I was particularly encouraged on learning that Nigerians, journalists both home and abroad, were interested in my case and were demanding justice for me. Despite being subjected to torture, intimidation and ill-treatment, I thank God that it all ended in praise.
How did you finance your bail process?
I had to spend my life savings, and I sold many valuable properties and ended up as a homeless person now. I couldn’t afford to live on my own after my release. My wife and dear son were now faraway from home for their safety. And don’t forget that the case was later struck out (by the court).
How did your family handle the situation?
Family and friends, down to relatives, lost hope because I am one of the breadwinners of my family. Now, imagine what they would have faced while I was away for nearly five months. And that was the more reason why I sold many of my assets to be able to finance my case and to cater for my family while in prison.
Do you plan to slow down on blogging now after what you went through in prison?
I see no reason why I should. I have no regrets. The prison experience exposed me to a lot of things and it gave me more insight into the how Nigeria’s situation. I hope and pray to be in a position of influence in the future to be able to help prisoners. The state of Nigeria’s prisons is nothing to write home about.
You said the case against you was struck out by the court. Do you think the Ogun State Government wronged you?
You mean apology? Maybe!, anyway but Governor Abiodun already did his best to convince the world that he is a law abiding Citizen for accepting my apologies when his attention is mostly needed on my case. Journalism shouldn’t be a crime, yes! That’s why they (politicians especially) needed to be encouraging journalist and be helping them for us to balance our reports.
However, Governor still owes the journalists’ community and the entire world an apology for going as far as sending me to prison for doing my job as a citizen and an investigative journalist. Journalism shouldn’t be a crime; politicians, especially, need to encourage journalists and be more accessible, so journalists can easily balance their reports.
What I expected him (Governor Dapo Abiodun) to have earlier did then was to debunk the story and tell the world his part of the story.