• Monday, May 20, 2024
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FIJ reporter freed after 10 days in police captivity


Daniel Ojukwu, the Foundation for Investigative Journalism reporter who was abducted by the Intelligence Response Team of the Inspector General of Police has been freed.

FIJ made this disclosure via its website on Friday.

Ojukwu regained freedom after spending 10 days in police custody following intense pressure and protests from civil society organisations as well as journalists.

Ojukwu was reported to have gone missing on Wednesday, May 1, after which his numbers were switched off and whereabouts unknown to colleagues, family and friends.

Having waited for 24 hours, FIJ made a missing person report at police stations in the area where Ojukwu was headed.

Through a hired detective by FIJ, Ojukwu’s last active location was tracked to an address in Isheri Olofin, where FIJ believes was the location the police originally waylaid him.

As the search for the journalist continues, his family got wind of his detention at Panti, where they were made to understand the authorities accused him of violating the 2015 Cybercrime Act.

The Intelligence Response Team of the Inspector General of Police however moved Ojukwu to the Nigeria Police Force National Cybercrime Centre in Abuja on Sunday morning.

Afterward, the police gave FIJ’s lawyers and some negotiators stringent bail conditions upon which he would be released.

The negotiators were led by the publisher of SaharaReporters, Omoyele Sowore; chairman of Nigeria Union of Journalists FCT Correspondent’s Chapel Jide Oyekunle; and Bukky Shonibare, chairman of FIJ’s Board of Trustees.

Meanwhile, some civil society organisations and journalists on Thursday, stormed the Force Headquarters in Abuja to demand the release of the FIJ reporter.

The protesters were seen carrying banners with the inscriptions, “Free Daniel Ojukwu,” “No to a police state,” “Journalism is not a crime,” and “Stop the impunity.”

Following the protest on Thursday by the civil society organisations, the police bowed to pressure which resulted in his release on Friday.

Abimbola Ojenike, managing partner of Slingstone LP and FIJ’s attorneys said Ojukwu’s arrest underscores the level of power misuse by the police against journalists in the country, vowing that it would not go unchallenged.

“This will not go unchallenged. There’s a significant public interest in Daniel’s human rights enforcement action that goes beyond just this violation,” Ojenike said.

“The constitutional right to free speech is dead if journalists can no longer expose the malfeasance in government officials without fear or oppression,” the lawyer added.