Lagos police arrest, remand a photo journalist for wearing dreadlocks

Yinka Badmus, a 24-year-old photojournalist with Talk Village International, has been arrested and remanded in Ikoyi Prison, over his dreadlocks, which some policemen felt made him look like a cultist.

Badmus, who had just bagged a scholarship, was arrested for committing no crime by policemen attached to the Lagos State Police Command Anti-Cultism Unit.

His boss, Stephen Oguntoyinbo, said he received disturbing phone calls from prison warders, urging him to ensure Badmus, who is now critically ill, was granted bail and taken to hospital to ensure he did not die.

He explained that Badmus was arrested on December 31, 2018, while eating noodles at Pedro Bus Stop, Gbagada, where he lives. It was learnt that after he was detained, the policemen refused to allow him to contact anyone.

While he was in detention, trying to convince the policemen that he was not a cultist, friends and family had become frantic with worry, searching for him. Badmus’ whereabouts was eventually known after a detainee, who was granted bail, contacted one of Badmus’ relatives.

He had already spent three days in police detention, contravening the stipulated instruction that every suspect must be charged within 24 hours. Oguntoyinbo said: “After days in detention, Yinka was able to send a message to a close relative on January 3.

He was found at the station. The information given by the police was that he was arrested because of his hairstyle. I was asked to come to Gbagada Police Station on January 4, to bail him and see the officer in charge of his case.”

The state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), CSP Chike Oti, confirmed Badmus’ arrest. “Badmus was arrested along with others for unlawful gathering. They were arrested with a bag of Indian hemp,” he said.

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