Mr. Ime Sunday Silas, an editor with the privately-owned Global Concord newspaper and publisher of the news website The Profile, has continued to be remanded in prison custody in Uyo, the capital of Akwa-Ibom state more than one month after being granted bail by a Magistrate Court.
Ime was arrested on August 17, 2020 by the Police officers when he got to the Ikot Akpan Abia district of Uyo to meet a source. He was taken to a nearby police headquarters where he was detained.
The following day, he was arraigned at a magistrate court charged under Section 24 of the Cybercrime Act, 2015 and remanded in detention after the Court denied him bail.
His lawyers again applied for bail on August 24 which was eventually granted on September 10; but in spite being granted bail, the editor remains in custody in the police headquarters.
The journalist is accused of committing cyberstalking thereby allegedly violating Section 24 of the Cybercrime Act for sending a message that included the title of an August 9 report published by The Profile about Martha Udom Emmanuel, the wife of Akwa-Ibom Governor Udom Emmanuel.
The report, titled “Exposed: Okobo PDP Chapter Chair links Gov.Udom’s Wife with a plot to blackmail Deputy Speaker,” alleges a blackmail scheme related to upcoming local council elections in the state.
The charge sheet accused Ime of sending a “message” containing the report’s title, which it says constitutes a crime of spreading information ”through a computer, knowing the same to be false, for the purpose of causing annoyance, insult, hatred and ill will” against Martha Udom Emmanuel.
If convicted of the alleged offence, Ime faces up to three years in prison, a fine of up to N7million (about US$18,153), or both. By the provisions of the Cybercrime Act, the High Court is the court of the first instance for offences under it.
He was eventually released on September 19, 2020.