The Lagos State Police Command has said its anti-cultism division did not arrest Yinka Badmus, a photojournalist, for sporting dreadlocks.
Chike Oti, the command’s Public Relations Officer (PRO), said this in a statement received by SaharaReporters on Saturday.
It had been earlier reported that Badmus was arrested by some police officers because of his dreadlocks, which the officers allegedly said portrayed him as a cultist.
However, in an attempt to set the record straight, the command said: “To start with, it is ridiculous to say that the Anti-Cultism Unit of the Lagos State Police Command charged a suspect to court because of his hairstyle. Clearly speaking, Yinka Badmus and 13 others were charged to Ogudu Magistrate Court on January 4, 2019, on a two-count charge.
“The first count is conspiracy, i.e. for conspiring amongst themselves to commit felony to wit membership of unlawful society contrary to and punishable under Section 411, Cap CH, C17, Vol. 3 Laws of Lagos, 2015.
“The second count holds them for belonging to an unlawful society known as Eiye confraternity, contrary to and punishable under Section 42(a), Cap CH, C17 Vol. 3, Laws of Lagos State 2015.
“The suspects were, however, granted bail in the sum of fifty thousand Naira (N50,000) by a court of competent jurisdiction.
“However, those who could not meet the bail conditions were remanded in prison custody, pending when they would meet the stipulated conditions for their bail. This is an issue that is neither within the purview of Force nor its control.
“In view of the development, the Command wishes to put the matter straight. For the avoidance of doubt, there is no section of the Lagos State Criminal Law and indeed the Criminal Code, that criminalises hairstyle.
“Therefore, there is no way the said Yinka Badmus could have been charged to court for wearing dreadlocks by the Police. Suspects are charged to court based on the existing law and not for mundane reasons."
Badmus’ boss, Stephen Oguntoyinbo, had claimed that Badmus was arrested on December 31, 2018, while eating noodles in the community he lives, on the suspicion that his hairstyle presentes him as a cultist.