A popular Ibadan-based broadcaster, Oriyomi Hamzat, has been released from the custody of the State Security Service (SSS), where he was detained for weeks.
Hamzat, who owns Agidigbo radio station in Ibadan, was detained at the SSS office in Ibadan on August 1. He was later transferred to the Abuja office of the agency.
Individuals and groups, like the Association of Nigerian Comrades (ANC), have clamoured for the release of the broadcaster whose arrest was seen as unlawful and an infringement on press freedom.
Narrating how he was arrested, the general manager of Agidigbo radio station, Ismail Idowu, said the SSS officers visited the radio station on July 31, demanding to see Mr Hamzat.
The manager, along with three others who are interns at the broadcast office, were arrested and broadcast equipment at the office were taken by the officers afterwards.
“For the whole day we searched for Hamzat and we could not find him. We got to the orphanage home, owned by him. He was not there as well,” he said.
“It was on the following day that he came around to the DSS office. We were released while they arrested him.”
“Up till now, I’ve not set my eyes on him after that. The last thing I heard was that the case has been transferred to Abuja.”
When asked for the reason behind the arrest, the manager explained that the security operatives did not disclose why he was arrested to anyone and that they only wanted to interrogate him.
“We’ve been running our programmes and exposing the atrocities committed by the state government until the time he was arrested.”
However, PREMIUM TIMES gathered that Hamzat was arrested over the receipt of a petition against one of the radio programmes he runs on social media, by the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation.
The wife of the broadcaster, Motunrayo Hamzat, confirmed the release of her husband but PREMIUM TIMES noted that Hamzat had gone in to hiding after his release.
“He has been released since Thursday. But currently, he’s not around.”
It was unclear why Hamzat had gone into hiding.
Meanwhile, Hamzat lawyer, Adekunle Raji, made it known that his client was arrested over allegations of airing an inciting broadcast in one of his radio programmes, which was circulated online.
“I was there in Ibadan where he was initially detained. They (at the DSS office) claimed that a petition by NBC necessitated the arrest. They also said his programmes were much of speculations.
“We’ve been working on his release before we discovered that he has been transferred to Abuja.”
“At Abuja, the new DSS boss granted him an unconditional bail, even before I applied for his bail. They (at Abuja) also claimed that they got the same petition against Mr Hamzat,” he said.
When asked of the whereabouts of Mr Hamzat, the barrister stated that his client might have decided to ‘lie low’ after the incident. He also claimed he has been released but doesn’t know his whereabouts.