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May 9, 2024
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Protesters demand release of FIJ journalist from police HQ

In a dramatic display of solidarity and concern, journalists and outraged citizens converged upon the Nigeria Police Force Headquarters in Abuja, igniting a fervent protest demanding the immediate release of Daniel Ojukwu, a dedicated journalist affiliated with the Foundation for Investigative Journalism (FIJ).

The troubling saga began on May 1st when Ojukwu was surreptitiously whisked away by police officers in Lagos, only to be clandestinely transported to Abuja three days later. As the days stretched into a tense ten-day ordeal of uncertainty, the public outcry swelled in response to Ojukwu’s prolonged detention and the conspicuous silence emanating from the upper echelons of the police hierarchy.

Leading the charge in this impassioned demonstration were eminent figures such as human rights activists Omoyele Sowore and Bukola Shonibare, alongside other prominent members of the #RevolutionNow movement, as well as a multitude of fellow journalists rallying at the gates of the police complex.

Details emerged revealing the covert nature of Ojukwu’s apprehension: his communication lines were abruptly severed, relegating him to the confines of the State Criminal Investigation Department in Panti, Lagos, with no official acknowledgment of his whereabouts. It wasn’t until FIJ filed a missing person report and dispatched a private investigator to trace his last known location that his family and colleagues gained insight into his plight.

Ojukwu’s ordeal didn’t end there. After five days in limbo, he was finally granted access to his confiscated devices, only to find himself swiftly shuttled to the Nigeria Police Force National Cybercrime Centre and subsequently to the FCID in Abuja, ostensibly on charges related to the Cyber-Crime Act of 2015. However, the specifics of his alleged transgressions remained shrouded in ambiguity, with the police spokesperson hinting at a petition lodged against the journalist.

The catalyst for Ojukwu’s detention appeared to stem from his investigative reportage in October 2023, wherein he exposed financial irregularities involving the then Senior Special Assistant on Sustainable Development Goals to the President. The report, which implicated a significant sum of public funds, resurfaced amidst speculation that it served as the impetus for Ojukwu’s ordeal.

Fisayo Soyombo, the Founder and Publisher of FIJ, vociferously defended the integrity of Ojukwu’s work, asserting that it represented factual journalism rather than baseless allegations. Soyombo lambasted the police for their opacity surrounding Ojukwu’s detention, condemning their actions as an abduction rather than a lawful arrest.

As the clamor for justice reverberated across the nation, the demand for Ojukwu’s immediate release underscored a broader concern for press freedom and the protection of journalists in the pursuit of truth.

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