Lagos State Police Commissioner, Mr. Fatai Owoseni has shed more light on the incident that led to the arrest of the publisher of SaharaReporter, Mr Omoyele Sowore.
Owoseni, speaking with newsmen in his office, accused Sowore of raising a false alarm, which necessitated the presence of the police at the scene.
He said contrary to the claim by Sowore that the complainant (Lekan Fatodu) called the policemen, it was Sowore who actually raised the alarm that he was being attacked by some hoodlums.
“He made a distress call that he was being attacked by some hoodlums and robbers and police responded quickly and moved to the scene,” Owoseni said.
He added that on arrival at the scene, the police discovered that it was an altercation between two persons and the duo were transferred to his office at the command headquarters.
According to the police boss, it was decided that the case should be transferred to the State Criminal Investigations Department when it was established that a case of criminal defamation of character and threat to life had already been reported by Lekan Fatodu.
Owoseni said both Fatodu and Sowore were directed to report at the State CID the following day, while he warned the SaharaReporter’s publisher to desist from using the social media to blackmail anybody.
Sowore, after his release on Thursday, had written on his Facebook wall that he was out of what he termed “labyrinth of a police conspiracy centred around one Lekan Fatodu.”
He alleged that Lekan and his friend had waylaid him at at GRA Ikeja to kill him, adding that the attempt was resisted by the public.
He also accused the Lagos police boss as part of the conspiracy, adding that he (Owoseni) pulled out a petition alleging “criminal defamation” against him.
Reacting to his allegation, Owoseni, however, warned the SaharaReporter’s publisher to stop peddling lies on social media.
Sowore had earlier accused the police of taking sides with Fatodu, whom he said assaulted him.
“I was physically attacked today (Tuesday) by a gang led by Lekan Fatodu… he assaulted me before police officers at Area “F” in Ikeja in Lagos,” he had said.
“After the police intervened soon as I was attacked by Lekan Fatodu and his friends in Lagos, we were taken to the CP’s office in Lagos.
“Turns out he was in on this, he pulled out a supposed petition written by Lekan from his hat after that he became very hostile towards me and ordered that we be driven to State CID, at Panti in Lagos.
“It is very obvious that this was planned between Lekan Fatodu and the police. They offered him unbridled support as he continued attacking me.”
But Dolapo Badmos, Lagos Police PPRO also reacted by denying the allegation immediately.
“Today, 11/1/2017 at about 15:39 hrs, a distress call was received by the Lagos State Police Command that Mr Omoyele Sowore – Publisher of Sahara Reporters was being attacked by suspected hoodlums around Isaac John street, GRA, Ikeja,” she said in a statement.
“The police swiftly responded, and upon arrival at the scene contrary to the report that a robbery attack was taking place, the police met the duo of Mr Omoyele Sowore and Mr Lekan Fatodu engaged in a brawl/altercation.
“With a view to ascertaining what led to the false alarm of a robbery, both parties were taken before the commissioner of police.”
Badmos said it was later discovered that Fatodu had written a petition against Sowore.
She said the police had commenced investigation into the allegation levelled against the influential online publisher.
“In the course of police intervention, it was found out that the brawl is in connection with an earlier complaint of alleged threat to life, defamation of character and blackmail made by Lekan against Omoyele,” she said.
“Both parties were subsequently referred to the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department (SCIID), Panti where the case has been under investigation.”
Meanwhile, Lekan Fatodu, the United Kingdom-based journalist who accused Sowore of criminal defamation, said he has nothing personal against him but they must meet in court.
He described Sowore as his friend of over 20 years.
Fatodu admitted that he got a contract from the office of National Security Adviser (NSA), under Col. Sambo Dasuki, which he delivered and the federal government was satisfied, but Sowore demanded his own cut from the deal.
While Sowore denied the allegation of demanding any money from him, saying he had never taken bribe, and could not even solicit such from someone like Fatodu, but Fatodu said he had compelling evidence against his estranged friend, and he had made up his mind on suing him to court.
“I am charging Sowore to court, I am pushing a criminal case, a threat to my life, and I am doing it today. I have compelling evidence against him. I have known Sowore for almost 20 years,” he told an online newspaper, TheCable.
“I did a contract with the ex-NSA in 2014, and my name has not been put out for committing any crime in the course of the contract. I delivered the contract, and the NSA office was satisfied.
“So, for Sowore who is always looking for someone to rubbish to come after me is strange. I have pushed him to where he is, so he should allow me live my life.
“I have never heard that it is a crime to have a contract with government, inasmuch as you deliver what you have been given money for and you do it legitimately.
“There is no reason why he should come after me. He started calling me in 2016. He said the federal government had asked people to appear before a verification committee on contracts, but the government only listed companies and not individuals.
“I don’t have anything to hide. I have nothing personal against him; Sowore is my friend, but I have to defend my rights. Some people are saying it is a civil case, and it doesn’t warrant police intervention. Threat to life is not a civil case, it is a criminal offence.”
Fatodu said the only condition for not going to court was for Sowore to tender an apology.
“He needs to tender an apology over his dubious story before I can consider settling any issue. That is how it is done in any decent society,” he said.
Told to react to the allegation that he was acting on behalf of aggrieved politicians whose deeds had been exposed by the activist-journalist, Fatodu said: “This is strictly between us. I am not fighting on anyone’s behalf. I am just out to defend my rights. This is a threat to my life here.”