…narrates how he collapsed and resuscitated in army detention
By Okosun Dennis
A photojournalist attached to National Wire, an online news platform, Abiodun Omotosho, has relayed his experience during his arrest on Wednesday by the military police.
Omotosho who was detained and later released from the military guardroom at the Ikeja Military Cantonment was shocked that the military could attack a journalist on a legitimate assignment.
“If not for the proactive response of my company who alerted the
Army Public Relations Officer, 9 Brigade, Major Kolawole Bello, who waded into my matter, nobody knows what I would have further suffered in the hands of overzealous soldiers who apprehended me unjustly on my lawful duty,” Omotosho explained adding that the Major’s intervention was timely and quite civil.
The photojournalist was said to have taken pictures of traders who displayed their wares and carrying out other services at the front of the Arena Market, by Bolade Bus stop, along the Lagos-Abeokuta motor road.
Few hours after his detention, Omotosho collapsed at the military police detention facility and was rushed to the Medical Registry System (MRS) for resuscitation and treatment.
He revealed that immediately he was arrested at the Arena gate by plain-cloth men, one of them he identified as Moses demanded for N100,000 while the second person he couldn’t identify demanded for N2,000 to avoid being detained at the Military Police guardroom and subsequently prosecuted.
Omotosho explained that he had gone into the Arena Market to repair his camera but when he was leaving at some minutes past 3pm, he realised that at the front of the Arena gate, traders displayed their merchandise against the time limit of 3pm specified by government for every market to close business.
He then decided to take shots of the traders before he was arrested.
Explaining further on how he was arrested, he said, “I saw people displaying their wares and goods after the 3pm government regulations for all markets to close, outside the main gate of the Arena Market towards Oshodi expressway. Immediately I took some pictures, I was accosted by a man who claimed to be the Chief Security Officer of the Arena Market.
“He accused me of taking the pictures with a view to reporting to the authority for undermining the social distancing rules, violating government specified time for closing the market and so many of the traders were not wearing their facemask.
“I was taken to the gate and one of them demanded for N2,000. I told him I didn’t have that kind of money but eventually, I gave him N1,000. He said I should wait for his oga. About 20 minutes later, one of them identified as Moses came and interrogated me. He told me if I didn’t want to be locked up at the military police guardroom, I should pay N100,000. I told him I didn’t have such money. Moreover, I didn’t commit an offence taking pictures of people trading.
“They later brought tricycle (Keke Marwa) which conveyed me to the military police guardroom where I was locked up. At the cell, I met three other persons inside including a soldier. About 20 minutes later, an officer in mufti came and asked me a few questions and told them to handle me ‘the way it is supposed to be’ before he drove off. I was made to sit down until I collapsed,” Omotosho reiterated.
Before he was moved from the Arena to the guardroom, he had sent a text message to the official WhatsApp line of his company to inform the office about his ordeal around 4:26pm to say: “Hello house, the Army at the Ikeja Military Cantonment arrested me today that I was shooting the front of Arena Market at Oshodi. Pls call now.”
It was gathered shortly after he identified himself as a photojournalist working with National Wire, one Captain Lawal, the Provost Officer, 9 Brigade ordered his ID card and Camera seized and was taken into military police detention facility at the Cantonment and all the pictures he snapped were deleted from his camera.
When contacted, the Army Public Relations Officer, 9 Brigade, Major Kolawole Bello, said he was on the matter, noting that the photojournalist was at the MRS. He explained that he was not beaten by the soldiers but collapsed and was taken for treatment.
“He is at the MRS now. He collapsed while at the duty room. He was not beaten by the soldiers. He just went down where he was sitting and he was taken to the MRS for medical attention. He is okay now and talking. We shall make provision to take him home,” he explained.
Omotosho, who corroborated the position of the Public Relations Officer, added that his intervention saved the day.
He was dropped off at his home in an Army van at 10:45pm later that day.