Police Hold FIJ Reporter One Week Despite Calls For His Release

The detention of Daniel Ojukwu comes weeks after another journalist, Segun Olatunji, spent 14 days in the custody of state sponsored security agents, a development that Amnesty International, the NUJ and the IPI have described as an ugly trend.

Daniel Ojukwu



One week after he was taken from his Lagos residence by armed men who turned out to be policemen, Daniel Ojukwu, a journalist with an online news platform, the Foundation for Investigative Journalism (FIJ), has remained in police custody despite strong calls for his release.

Ojukwu’s lawyer, Abimbola Ojenike, told Channels Television on Tuesday that Ojukwu was taken from his Lagos residence on Wednesday, May 1, hours to this year’s Press Freedom Day.

“We observed that Daniel Ojukwu was missing and his numbers were deactivated. A subsequent private investigation revealed that he was, based on the phone signals, found at somewhere around Isheri Olofin. Nobody knew his whereabouts from then,” he said.

“Subsequent information revealed that he was at the State Criminal Investigation Department, Panti, Lagos, and his mother found him there. No explanation was given as to the details of his arrest and he was not granted bail.”

Ojenike said the order based on which Ojukwu was “abducted” came from the office of the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Kayode Egbetokun.

The lawyer said the reporter was denied access to his counsel and relocated to the Force Criminal Investigation Department in Abuja subsequently.

“He has not been charged, he has not been charged before any court of competent jurisdiction but he was later presented with a petition regarding a certain story that he wrote about a certain deputy governor of Lagos State who is currently a special adviser to the President on Millennium Development Goals, Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire,” he said.

The lawyer said his client has written a statement based on the petition filed against him and “we believe that the normal thing is for him to be granted bail”.

“He (Ojukwu) is not a flight risk in any way and if he had been invited, he would have honoured the police invitation. So, there is no point taking people in a way that gets everyone agitated,” Ojenike said.

He Has A Case To Answer – Police

On Sunday, some four days after the journalist was taken and the attendant outrage, Force spokesman, Muyiwa Adejobi, said Ojukwu has a case to answer.

“It has been confirmed that the journalist, Daniel Ojukwu, was arrested by the Nigeria Police National Cybercrime Centre, Abuja, based on a petition filed against him.

“It’s a case of violation of the Cybercrime Prohibition Act 2015 and other extant laws of the land. He has a case to answer. This was confirmed to me on Sunday by the CP and head of the centre. The FHQ will address this matter ASAP to clear the grey areas,” Adejobi told journalists in a WhatsApp group for crime reporters.

The detention of Ojukwu comes weeks after another journalist, Segun Olatunji, spent 14 days in the custody of state sponsored security agents, a development that professional bodies Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) and the International Press Institute (IPI Nigeria) have described as an ugly trend.


NUJ Demands Release

The detention of Ojukwu has been criticised by many civil society organisations and pro-democracy activists who expressed strong resentment over the detention of journalists.

They expressed concerns over the Gestapo-styled arrest of journalists by state security agents, saying it is an echo from the past, and a prominent feature of the dark years of military rule. They said the ugly development impugned press freedom 25 years after Nigeria’s transition from dictatorial rule to democratic governance.



The National President of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Chris Isiguzo, expressed shock that Ojukwu has not been released despite assurances by the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, on Saturday night at the NUJ Press Freedom and Good Governance Awards in Abuja.

“I’m shocked that up till now, nothing had been done,” Isiguzo told Channels Television on Tuesday afternoon.

“We want to add our voices to other voices that the detained journalist should be released. Keeping him in detention for this length of time, I don’t think it serves the essence of press freedom. We just celebrated that last week and to think that whilst the celebration was going on, a journalist is kept in captivity is not a good one.

“Whatever is the situation, those holding him should charge him to court. In the absence of that, he should be released immediately,” the NUJ president said.



Also, global rights group Amnesty International, demanded Ojukwu’s release, stating that arrests and sponsored smear campaigns against journalists investigating corruption must end.



‘Repression Of Press Freedom’

The Nigerian National Committee of the International Press Institute (IPI Nigeria) condemned Ojukwu’s prolonged detention and asked the IGP to order the immediate release of the embattled journalist.

“IPI Nigeria strongly condemns the abduction and calls on the Inspector General of Police to, with immediate effect, order the release of Mr Ojukwu.

“Coming at about the period the world is celebrating the freedom of the press, the action of the Nigeria Police Force speaks volumes of the attitude and commitment of law enforcement agencies in Nigeria to the freedom of the press,” the IPI said in a statement.

“Some weeks ago, the Nigerian military abducted a journalist, Mr Segun Olatunji, in a Gestapo manner in Lagos and flew him to Abuja under humiliating conditions in apparent violation of his rights to dignity and expression.

“With the two incidents cited above, a pattern has emerged that points to the fact that the administration of President Bola Tinubu does not only condone repression of freedom of the press but also encourage it, in contradiction of promises made during the president’s inaugural speech that his administration would uphold fundamental human rights.”


‘Human Rights Violation’

Also, BudgIT, an organisation promoting transparency and accountability, demanded the immediate release of the detained journalist.

“It is alarming that Daniel Ojukwu’s family only became aware of his detention after a private detective hired by FIJ tracked his phone’s last active location to an address in Isheri Olofin, which the police now acknowledge as the place of his arrest. This lack of transparency and accountability by the authorities is unacceptable and violates Daniel’s fundamental rights.

“Journalists’ arrest for simply carrying out their duties undermines press freedom and the right to freedom of expression, which are enshrined in international human rights instruments,” the organisation said in a statement.



On its part, ActionAid Nigeria described as alarming, the manner of Ojukwu’s detention, saying it raised “serious questions about the conduct of law enforcement agencies in Nigeria”.

“We demand transparency, accountability, and respect for the rule of law in this matter,” it said.