Nigerian Webmaster Arrested For Hosting An Investigative Story About Nigerian Company Where Cannabis Is Openly Smoked

This is one of the stranger stories concerning cannabis and media that we’ve seen and somewhat concerning.Hillcrest Agro-Alied Industry, is one of the group of companies owned by a former Deputy Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mrs. Sarah Alade. The story published says the company tolerates the smoking of Indian hemp (cannabis) by workers .

In Nigeria a team of policemen have arrested a  webmaster, Mr. Adebowale Adekoya over a news story published last year in NewsDigest, an Abuja-based online news site to which he provides technical services.

Adekoya, was arrested in Ikorodu, Lagos 

The investigative report,  titled: “Inside Kwara factory where Indian hemp smoking is ‘legalized,” was authored by  Alfred Olufemi, an award-winning campus journalist from one of the premier universities in Nigeria.

The story was published by NewsDigest with the reporter’s byline on 19 May, 2018.

In the report, Hillcrest Agro-Alied Industry, one of the group of companies owned by a former Deputy Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mrs. Sarah Alade, it was learnt, tolerates the smoking of cigarettes, as well as Indian hemp by workers within its vicinity.

The NewsDigest’s investigative journalist, disclosed that workers who are saddled with the responsibility of loading and off-loading grains, smoke Indian hemp at will without being sanctioned.

From the body of the investigative report, the industry refused to respond to Olufemi’s inquiry on the disturbing situation, after he had put several calls and text messages to the industry’s hot line.

Reacting to the incident, Gidado Yushau, Editor of NewsDigest, expressed  shock over the arrest of his online newspaper’s webmaster, describing the police’s action as an ‘unbridled illegality.’

Gidado, who maintained that the Police have no justification to illegally arrest and detain Mr. Adekoya over a story which he was not the author, said NewsDigest, as a credible online medium, always upholds and adheres to the tenets and basic ethics of news reportage. He said:“NewsDigest has over the years served as veritable platform for grooming and sharpening the writing talents of brilliant campus journalists, who publish their articles, news reports and investigative stories on the medium for free. We strongly promote investigative journalism, especially investigations done by gifted student-writers and journalists.

One of the results of our advocacy is the particular story, which was ‘beautifully’ authored by Mr. Alfred. “We totally condemned the unjustifiable action of the law enforcement officers for arresting Adekoya who is for doing his legitimate work of managing our online site and dozens of other media platforms.

Besides, he was neither the owner of the website nor the author of the investigative report. Therefore, we are calling on the police to unconditionally release him,” he added. The police are still keeping the webmaster in their custody in Ilorin after several days of the arrest, in lieu of the owner of the website and the reporter.

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