Following the arrest and extortion of Olumide Bakare, a social media influencer, by 3 police officers from the Ogudu division in Lagos state, the entire team of 8 police officers have been detained for investigation.
Bakare was returning from Ikeja in a Taxify vehicle when the vehicle was stopped by the policemen who then entered the car and led them to the police station. Describing his experience at the station, Bakare told The Punch, “When we got to the station, they took us to one corner with two wooden rooms. They collected my phones, my AirPods and ID card.”
“Even as I explained that I’m an influencer and work for several brands, they kept on searching my email, Instagram, Twitter and WhatsApp, and after asking questions, which I gave proper answers to, they saw a text about homosexuals in a group that I belonged to and they labelled me a gay.
According to him, after his phone was searched and he was pegged as gay, one of the policemen took off his clothes and began beating him with a pipe. He was forced to write a statement claiming that he had male clients who paid him to have casual sex with them. He wrote down the names of male clients that were suggested to him by the policemen.
Bakare was released following a tweet to @Segalink that led to the involvement of the human rights activist, and others who teamed up against the inhumane treatment he had received from the policemen.
The N260,000 that was collected from him has been refunded, and all 8 members of the police team that arrested him have been detained and are being investigated.
Social Media; a major weapon for ordinary Nigerians
Bakare is not the first person to be deliberately misjudged and extorted by members of the police force and other law enforcement agents in the country. The case of another social media influencer named Shola who was detained, and then released after social media outcry is one out of many others.
The constant misuse of authority has led to a loss of confidence in the police and promoted scepticism about bills such as the Social Media Bill.
Recall, that in March this year, civil society groups and government institutions had vehemently opposed the social media bill on the grounds that it restricts the freedom of speech of Nigerians.
Sections of the bill also give the police power to deny people access to websites and social media platforms when they see the need to.
Occurrences like Bakare’s own shows that social media is still one of the first places that people feel free to share their unpleasant experiences and connect with a larger audience that can provide assistance.
In summary, this shows how social media platforms like Twitter have become an integral part of our lives, and our quest to be heard.
Creating a balanced environment virtually and physically ensures that unlawful deeds have no place to hide, whether they’re perpetrated by law enforcement agents, or by the populace.
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