On December 31, 2018, 24-year-old Nigerian photojournalist, Yinka Badmus who works with Talk Village International was allegedly arrested because of his hairstyle - dreadlocks.
Claims were that he was simply eating noodles close to his house at Pedro Bus-stop, Gbagada, Lagos when he was arrested. He has since been remanded at Ikoyi Prison by the Lagos State Police Command Anti-Cultism Unit.
Reports also claim that his Fundamental Human Rights have been breached as he has simply been blatantly denied of his right to call someone.
After approximately 13 days, the Lagos State Police Command has finally responded to claims through CSP Chike Oti with claims that Yinka Badmus was arrested on grounds of cultism.
CSP Oti says, “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 two-count charges.
“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 the 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.”
Efforts to reach anybody from Yinka Badmus’ camp have proved abortive. However, efforts continue to get their side of the story. When that happens, Pulse will provide updates.
In the meantime, social media activism to get Badmus released continues.
UPDATE: Reports claim Yinka Badmus has since been released.