Court remands social media influencer, Verydarkman, in police custody

The Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered the remand of social media influencer Martins Vincent Otse, popularly known as Verydarkman, in police custody.

Justice Mobolaji Olajuwo issued the remand order after the defendant pleaded not guilty to a five-count cybercrime charge brought against him by the Nigeria Police Force (NPF).

One of the charges alleges that Otse posted videos on his Instagram account, ‘verydarkblackman,’ containing information that was “grossly offensive, pornographic, or of an indecent, obscene, or menacing character.” Specifically, he was accused of falsely claiming that Iyabo Ojo was having an indecent sexual relationship with her daughter.

Also, Otse is alleged to have falsely claimed in another video that actress Tonto Dike was involved in the criminal conversion of funds raised for the #JusticeforMohbadMovement and that she was behind the controversial gossip blog, Gistlover.

The police argue that these publications were made to cause “annoyance, inconvenience, danger, obstruction, insult, injury, criminal intimidation, enmity, hatred, ill will, or needless anxiety.”

The prosecution alleges that Otse falsely claimed in another video that top police officers and senators were involved in sexual relationships with the now-convicted male cross-dresser Idris Okuneye, known as Bobrisky, and that Bobrisky was pimping young boys for these officials.

The defendant’s actions are said to constitute the offense of cyberstalking, contrary to and punishable under section 24 (1)(b) of the Cybercrime (Prohibition, Prevention, etc.) Act, 2015.

Following Otse’s plea of not guilty, his lawyer, Deji Adeyanju, requested bail, arguing that the charges were bailable offenses and that the defendant should be presumed innocent until proven guilty, as guaranteed by the 1999 Constitution, as amended.

The police requested time to respond to the bail application. Although the prosecution requested that Otse be remanded in prison custody, Justice Olajuwo ordered that he remain in police custody pending the determination of his bail request.

The court adjourned the matter to next Wednesday, May 29.

It is noteworthy that Verydarkman was previously arrested and detained by the police in March over similar allegations. He was later released on administrative bail following pressure from various human rights activists.

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