• Thursday, April 18, 2024
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Police insist FIJ’s BoT chair must produce Fisayo Soyombo over published investigation

Journalist, Soyombo detained, released by police

The Nigeria Police Force has asked Bukky Shonibare, the chair of the Foundation for Investigative Journalism (FIJ) Board of Trustees, to produce Fisayo Soyombo, FIJ’s executive director and editor-in-chief.

This request comes in the wake of an investigative report by FIJ that brought to light several irregularities within the nation’s customs service. The police’s invitation is perceived to be a direct response to these revelations.

Shonibare recounted her experience during her initial meeting with the police in Abuja regarding the same matter.

She clarified that Soyombo is fully willing to comply with the police invitation and emphasised that the journalist is not evading authorities.

During the interrogation, the police investigator insisted on speaking with Soyombo, prompting Shonibare to address any misconceptions regarding his availability, the Foundation Chair said.

“The investigator closed his iPad, put his hands on the table and said, well we need to speak to ‘Fisayo. You need to produce ‘Fisayo. So I said, if he said I need to produce ‘Fisayo, that sounds like you have tried to get ‘Fisayo or you’ve invited him and he did not come, so you need me, in whatever capacity, to go and produce him,” she recounted.

“So, I had to clarify that ‘Fisayo was not on the run; it is not like they had invited him and he didn’t come. So, he asked when I could come with ‘Fisayo. I asked if he was inviting me again. He said, yes, but I had to return with ‘Fisayo.”

Shonibare highlighted the police’s attempts to establish a cooperative relationship akin to that of another nonprofit organisation.

However, she asserted that FIJ operates solely as a platform for investigative journalism, emphasising its commitment to publishing stories rather than engaging in collaborative research with law enforcement.

Despite the challenges encountered during the interrogation, Shonibare said she maintained a composed demeanor and reiterated FIJ’s core mission of investigative journalism.

“He asked why FIJ was not like another specific non-profit organisation.

“The deputy director said that he was friends with this non-profit organisation. He said that they would go to do their research and bring the information to the police. ‘So, why are we publishing our work?’ he asked. ‘Why don’t we bring some findings to them and settle things amicably?’

“I told him that FIJ is the Foundation for Investigative Journalism. That’s the work that we do. We’re not another befriending non-profit bringing stories to them. We don’t work that way. Our job is to publish stories,” she said.