A Facebook user, Saheed Akinloye, was on Tuesday remanded in a correctional centre by the Osun State Magistrates’ Court sitting in Osogbo for accusing the state government of importing COVID-19 patients into the state in order to access funds from the Federal Government.
Akinloye was arraigned on four counts bordering on defamation, intent to incite members of the public against the government and interference with the Executive Order.
The defendant, who appeared before Magistrate Olusegun Ayilara, was said to have on April 11, 2020, around 11.05pm in Osogbo, wrote on his Facebook page, “When I accused Osun Government of importing COVID-19 patients into the state just to access fund from the FG many didn’t believe. The said imported patients are now Negative. APC, You Are Not Doing Well.”
The charge read in part, “This information, you knew to be false with an intent to incite members of the public against the Osun State Government in contravention of the COVID-19 Laws of Osun State, 2020, thereby committing an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 61 of the Criminal Code, Cap 34, Vol. II, Laws of Osun State of Nigeria, 2002.
“That you did publish false news with intent to cause fear and alarm to the public against the Osun State Government when you published on your Facebook page as follows: ‘When I accused Osun Government of importing COVID-19 patients into the state just to access fund from the FG many didn’t believe. The said imported patients are now Negative. APC, You Are Not Doing Well’. The information you knew to be false, thereby committing an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 24 of the Cyber Crime Prohibition Prevention etc Act, 2015.”
John Idoko announced appearance for the prosecution, while Bamidele Ajibade and Hashim Abioye represented the accused.
The state’s acting Solicitor-General, Dapo Adeniji, announced appearance for the state and indicated that the government wanted to take over the matter.
The application by Adeniji, who appeared with Kemi Bello, Oyedele Akintayo, Biodun Badiora and Moses Faremi, was granted by the court.
After listening to the charges, Akinloye pleaded not guilty.
The defence counsel, Ajibade, moved the bail application for his client and assured the court that Akinloye would not jump bail if granted.
But Adeniji opposed the bail application, saying the charges against the accused were indictable.
He said the accused should be remanded for at least 30 days to enable the prosecution have enough time to do its work.
Responding, Ajibade said Akinloye did not abuse the bail granted him by the police and reported daily at the station as directed.
Ruling on the application, Ayilara held that the defence counsel should file a formal bail application before the court.
He remanded Akinloye in a correctional centre and adjourned further hearing till May 13, 2020.