Nigeria’s ambassador to Mexico, Adejare Bello, has threatened to take legal action against PREMIUM TIMES for reporting his assault on a journalist in Osun State.
This newspaper, last Friday, reported that Mr Adejare, a former speaker of the state assembly, attacked a journalist, Adeniyi Akinromade, who works with the Osun State Broadcasting Corporation (OSBC), while rendering a social service during traffic gridlock.
The incident occurred at the Oke-Fia axis of Osogbo, where the journalist decided to help pass vehicles causing the gridlock.
Mr Bello was angered by Mr Akinromade’s action, whom he felt was obstructing him from passing. He came down from his car and assaulted the journalist.
“Despite telling him that I am a journalist and that I was only carrying out social service, he was slapping me alongside officers attached to him. I was brutalised and embarrassed publicly,” Mr Akinromade told PREMIUM TIMES last Friday.
This newspaper on the same day contacted Mr Bello on the matter. He did not deny assaulting Mr Akinromade.
He simply told our correspondent that he slapped the journalist for driving against traffic.
Embarrassed by PREMIUM TIMES publication, the two-term speaker of the Osun State House of Assembly threatened our correspondent with legal action.
He demanded through his lawyer, F.O. Abisoye, that the report be retracted.
This newspaper Tuesday contacted Mr Bello again where he reiterated his threat against PREMIUM TIMES. He, however, did not deny speaking with our correspondent on Friday.
“If you want to interview me, come to my house. I didn’t slap [him],” he said on Tuesday. “I will show you what the law says. That I did not know your number and I pick it, you should take it as an honour. I want the story retracted, I want the boy to deny and I want him to say he drove against the traffic.”
Bello and a series of meetings
PREMIUM TIMES findings revealed that since the story was published on Friday, Mr Bello has made several moves to coerce Mr Akinromade.
At least, two different meetings have held between Friday and Monday evening. The first meeting, which held on Friday evening, had the Osun State Commissioner for youth and sports, Lawal Olayemi; Mr Bello; and the assaulted journalist in attendance.
Mr Akinromade was reportedly asked to deny speaking with our correspondent and told to apologise.
Again, another meeting held on Monday evening where he was served a notice by the ambassador’s lawyer.
He is being mandated to deny being assaulted within 24 hours, else he would be charged to court, this newspaper learnt.
Mr Bello neither denied meeting with Mr Akinromade nor the threat against the journalist when PREMIUM TIMES called him on Tuesday.
Police yet to call in Bello
The police did not address the assault allegations made against Mr Bello. Instead, they invited Mr Akinromade for interrogation.
According to the invitation seen by PREMIUM TIMES, the journalist was asked to come to Dugbe Police Station by the state traffic officer in Osogbo on Tuesday.
He is expected to be interrogated at 1:30 p.m.
The state’s police spokesperson, Yemisi Opalola, could not be reached as of the time of this report as her telephone was not connecting.
Mr Bello was recently appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari as Nigerian Ambassador to Mexico.
The ambassador’s action was condemned by several groups, including the Nigeria Union of Journalists which demanded an apology from him.