Johnson Babalola
April 22, 2023

Freedom of speech: Unintended Consequences

“Joe, I think I will need a lawyer.”


“I am in Borderland, a country you are very familiar with, and I am having issues.”

“You travelled without putting me on notice?”

“Leave that issue Joe. I came to this country to transact some business for a week, but it now appears that I am in trouble.”

“You seem serious. What’s going on?”

“I got to the port of entry and the attending border officer asked for my passport, my reason for seeking entry into the country and the other usual questions. I travel all the time and I am used to those questions.”

“So, what happened?”

“Then the officer asked why I did not travel at the initial date I had indicated in my visa application form as my travel period. I told him I decided to stay and vote in the elections.”

“As a patriotic Naija boy!”

“Not funny!”

“My apology”

“He then asked me to go for secondary screening. I asked him why he would ask me to go through that. He said it was not a big deal. Another officer showed up and took me into a room where he started questioning me.”


“He asked me questions about the elections, my roles and what I witnessed.”


“Yes. I told him I only went to my polling unit to vote and returned home.”


“Not exactly my brother. He asked to check my phone because he said he had some concerns that I may have contravened some border laws.”

“Just like that?”

“Yep. I told him I did not understand. He then said he wanted to examine my phone to ensure that I had no admissibility issues and that I had complied with the county’s laws. He asked if I wanted to speak with a lawyer. I said no, given that I had nothing to worry about.”


“Then he checked my phone and found some images of election violence sent to the different Whatsapp groups I belong to and the ones I forwarded and wrote too.”

“First, we thank God it had nothing to do with pornography. However, you know I always warn you about the fake news you always share, your ethnic and religious divisive languages. I told you before, during and after the elections to be civil in your comments but you would not listen to me. You kept saying you were within your rights.”

“How would I know that those things would become issues for me in a foreign land. Even my wife warned me, but I would not listen. Sadly, there were many messages from some friends to me that I did not even read. When the officer opened them, I was ashamed of myself. They don’t represent my views bro.”

“Come off it!. You got carried away and became a master in the sharing of fake news that could divide a nation, subvert a government, and cause civil war.”

Hmmnnnn. The officer said my posts and those that I received and/or shared have far reaching implications within and outside of my country with respect to the security of Naija. He mentioned that the company I keep, and their utterances are troubling and that our views have the potential to subvert the government of Naija.”

“Bu sha o, Borderline is not Naija ke.”

“I asked him. He said it does not matter. If it could be a crime in Naija, it would render me inadmissible in Borderline too. He said they must safeguard the citizens of Borderline from people like me. He even checked my social media platforms.”

“Hopefully nothing to worry about in that area.”

“He said my phone and online comments contain some evidence of crime. He seized or as he called it, detained the phone.”

“Na wah o!. Let me check all the messages on my phone to ensure nothing incriminating are there as I will be traveling to SegeKanad and Ameko soon. I don’t want to be in trouble like you bro. I might even exit some social media platforms.”

“This is not about you bro. It is about me. My passport is with them. I need to contest this. I need a lawyer as soon as possible”

“I will text you the contacts of some lawyers to check out.”

“Thanks bro. The guy gave me an option of deportation or temporary entry to contest the seizure. He also said there are some legal consequences for me, adding that my visas would possibly get cancelled and I might be prosecuted. I am so petrified. Na Naija cause all these wahala for me”

“No bro. You caused it for yourself. We must always be in control of our utterances, writings, and actions. You never know when they will bite you. The internet does not forget. In addition, you never know the steps taken against you by some people you share the same platform with. Not everyone on those platforms is your friend. They are called enemies within. Do you need the names of some pastors and imams to pray you out of this problem?”

“It is a lawyer I need now bro.”

Johnson Babalola, a Canada and Nigeria based lawyer, leadership consultant, storyteller and corporate emcee, is a public affairs analyst. Follow him for discussions on real life issues that affect us all.

You can obtain a copy of his newly released book, REJECTED on Amazon, FriesenPress, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Google Play, Apple Books, Nook Store etc.