Yinka Badmus, a photojournalist with Talk Village International, has been remanded in prison custody after he was arraigned in court by the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) for sporting dreadlocks.
He was arraigned at Ojudu Magistrate court on January 4, 2019.
Badmus was arrested by operatives of the Lagos State Police Command Anti-Cultist Unit for wearing dreadlocks, a kind of hairstyle common among youth and celebrities.
Badmus’ boss, Stephen Oguntoyinbo, Chief Executive Officer of Talk Village International, explained that Badmus was arrested on December 31, while eating noodles in the community he lives. He was arrested by policemen from Anti-Cultism Unit, Pedro Bus Stop, Gbagada. It was learnt that after Badmus was detained, the policemen refused to allow him to contact anyone.
He claimed that he received reports from the prison alleging that Badmus had become sick following the beating he received from other inmates.
Oguntoyinbo explained that the family members of the 24-year-old photojournalist do not know his whereabouts as police officers barred him from making any phone calls.
He said the family only knew about Badmus’s arrest when another detainee who was released on bail contacted his family members.
At the time, Oguntoyinbo said Badmus had spent three days in custody, a flagrant disregard for the law that says detainee must not be held for more than 24 hours in Police custody.
“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 at Surulere, Lagos 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," Oguntoyinbo said.
Okechukwu Nwanguma, National Coordinator of the Network for Police Reforms in Nigeria (NOPRIN), said: “Two things; the Police officer was quoted as saying the guy was arrested because of his hairstyle. Where in the law is a hairstyle a crime?”
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.