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Knocks for Youth Minister Over Rescue of Party Supporter From Police Harassment

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Knocks for Youth Minister Over Rescue of Party Supporter From Police Harassment

Nigerian X (formerly Twitter) users have faulted Ayodele Olawande, the Minister of State for Youth Development, for issuing a statement detailing how his office “swung into action” to secure the release of Pastor Okezie Atani, whom policemen arrested some days ago.

This followed Olawande’s tweet on Friday, which contained an image of his statement on Atani’s arrest.

This statement read in part, “As soon as my office heard about Pastor Okezie’s arrest, we swung into action, not because Pastor Okezie is a member of the ruling party, but because of our commitments to due process and fairness.”

“I reiterate my assurance to our youth that we will continue to engage in a transparent, timely and effective manner; and I urge obedience to laws as we try to safeguard and protect the interests of Nigeria’s young people irrespective of party or political affiliations,” the minister added.

Some Nigerians questioned why the minister had not taken similar actions or issued statements when the police or other security agencies arrested other youths.

They accused Olawande of ignoring the case of Chioma Okoli, a Lagos resident whom the Inspector-General of Police is prosecuting for alleged criminal defamation, the same allegation Atani is rumoured to have been arrested for. Others accused him of interfering with an ongoing investigation.

On X, @Omolomo_o referred to the November raid by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) at Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU). He asked why the minister said nothing when 69 people were profiled and arrested.

His tweet read, “OAU students were arrested unlawfully by EFCC. As the minister of youth, he was absent; we didn’t even know we had someone in charge of the youths. I’m glad everyone is seeing this now, and yes, the same energy needs to be maintained. [I] didn’t know he was minister for APC youths, not Nigeria youths.”

Checks by FIJ confirmed Olawande made no comments on social media about the OAU incident.

@_safety_1 said, “Mr Federal Minister, Erisco arrested Chioma; your office didn’t make a statement. Ibezim was arrested; your office didn’t make a statement. I find it assuring that there are no more principles to some of you all’s job descriptions. Comforting to see that it’s okay to use the ministerial office to pursue party errands. I can’t act surprised.”

Atani, according to several claims, had shared an image of a controversial tweet, claiming it was posted and deleted by Serah Ibrahim, a Labour Party (LP) supporter. This tweet suggests someone collected bribes, which is criminal in Nigeria.

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