The Nigeria Rights and Integrity Protection Initiative(NRIPI), has commended the police over arrest of a social media user, Dr. Temitope Bankole, for making phantom and unsubstantiated N8 billion fraud accusation against former Governor Kayode Fayemi.
The group said the commendation was not about the personality of the former governor, but would relay a potent signal to Nigerians that cyber bullying is a criminal offence interdicted by Cybercrime Act 2015 promulgated by the federal government.
It would be recalled that the Police recently arrested Temitope Bankole, a staff of Ekiti State University for alleged Cyber Stalking and criminal character assassination for accusing the ex-Governor Fayemi of stealing N8b Ecological fund and subvention belonging to the Ekiti State University.
Reacting to the arrest in a statement issued in Abuja, on Monday, the NRIPI’s National Coordinator, Com. Raphael Irabor, said the apology tendered by the suspect further corroborated how puerile and spurious his accusations were.
Irabor insisted that Governors and leaders, who served the country shouldn’t be subjected to any form of mental torture via raising of phantom fraud and sex allegations against them, urging Nigerians not to abuse the social media space or turn them into arena for purveying of fake news.
Irabor added that Nigerians have the right to embrace collectivism to check corruption under whatever guise by monitoring their leaders and put them on their toes, but warned that this shouldn’t be done with criminal intention to defame the personality of anyone.
The Human Rights Activist posited further that no country can grow, when leaders, who served zealously and selflessly were being brazenly vilified and piloried by social media users and arm chair critics.
He said: “It sounded unfathomable that academic like one Dr. Temitope Bankole , who ought to decipher that whoever alleges must prove beyond reasonable doubt should be raising such a grievous accusation against a former governor that was adjudged to have performed outstandingly.
“No one is saying that we should descend to the era of dictatorship when citizens maintained sealed lips when corruption of high magnitude were being perpetrated, but NRIPI stands on the fact that people must raise allegations they can substantiate.
“We can’t continue to use social media space to hurl insults at those who are supposed to be venerated like former governor Kayode Fayemi.
“Again, the law is clear that whoever has allegation of pilfering of public funds can render such to the EFCC and ICPC for proper actions, rather than being the accuser and judge at the same time.
“Information has it that the suspect, Temitope Bankole had retracted his earlier statement and had since been apologizing and sending his colleagues to beg for the wrong accusation.
” It was quite wrong, alarming and disturbing that a scholar could join the league of ignoramuses, whose stock in trade is to criticise wrongly and with intention to damage people’s reputation. The law of the land will not allow this.
“It is to be noted that if the suspect is charged to court, he risks 25yrs jail term upon conviction. Now, only the former Governor could save him from going to jail under Cybercrime Act 2015”.
According to a statement issued by Temitope Bankole discountenancing the earlier statement, the scholar was quoted to have said: “Sequel to my earlier message posted here about our principal, Dr. Kayode Fayemi that EKSU subvention and other funds were spent before his exit. It was discovered that my allegations were based on mere false reports and rumours.
“I allowed emotions to guide my post which was not based on facts and evidences as an academic. Proper findings revealed otherwise.
“I sincerely apologise for the embarrassing post on our principal Dr. John Kayode Fayemi, I hope he will find space in his large heart to forgive my unfounded allegations.
I also wish to apologise to the leaders and members of this great forum for the false report.
“Lastly, I plead that the platform should not be shut down as its not only for political purpose.
I have learnt a lot and gained more insight to issues through the sound and robust contributions of our members”.