Nigeria detains journalist Daniel Ojukwu who reported on corruption

Nigeria detains journalist Daniel Ojukwu who reported on corruption

Daniel Ojukwu is an investigative journalist in Nigeria.

Basis for Investigative Journalism

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Basis for Investigative Journalism

Daniel Ojukwu is an investigative journalist in Nigeria.

Basis for Investigative Journalism

LAGOS, Nigeria — An investigative journalist in Nigeria has been arrested by police and held with out cost for over every week, resulting in rising fears for his security. His case has additionally ignited criticism from media and advocacy teams on the worsening local weather for impartial journalism in Africa’s most populous nation.

Police arrested 26-year-old Daniel Ojukwu on Could 1 in Lagos. He was reported lacking the next day by his colleagues at Nigeria’s Basis for Investigative Journalism (FIJ), after family and friends have been unable to achieve him by cellphone. FIJ employed non-public investigators who discovered his final location earlier than he was arrested, main journalists to demand solutions from Nigerian police.

Police solely confirmed his detention on Sunday, days after transferring him to the capital, Abuja, the place he has been accused of violating the Cybercrime Act, a controversial law that provides the Nigerian authorities broad powers to manage perceived on-line offenses. It has been criticized by Amnesty Worldwide as a way of punishing journalists and undermining the correct to freedom of speech.

The detention follows investigative reporting by Ojukwu and colleagues revealing corruption implicating senior Nigerian officers. A presidency official, Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, who was tasked with attaining the United Nations’ Sustainable Improvement Targets, allegedly ordered the switch of greater than $106,000 of presidency funds to a restaurant within the capital, in response to Ojukwu’s reporting. The funds had been budgeted for the creation of a college constructing and studying heart however, according to Ojukwu’s report, the amenities have been by no means created. Orelope-Adefulire has not responded to the allegations.

Fisayo Soyombo, the founding father of FIJ, described Ojuwku’s arrest — two days earlier than the Could 3 World Press Freedom Day — as an “abduction.” “I exploit this phrase very rigorously as a result of they by no means invited him to deal with issues in regards to the story in query. As an alternative, they tracked him, picked him and held him,” he stated.

As of Wednesday, every week after he was taken, Nigerian police had not interrogated Ojukwu on the story he produced, or questioned him for any alleged crime, Soyombo stated, including that FIJ made contact with Ojukwu on Sunday by cellphone. “All they’ve executed is dump him in a cell.” Police didn’t reply to NPR’s requests for remark.

Ojukwu’s arrest was an additional signal of the “horrible” local weather for impartial journalism in Nigeria.

“If a journalist might be kidnapped due to that story, I feel anybody unsure can see clearly that Nigeria presently runs a faux democracy,” Soyombo stated.

Soyombo can be being investigated by police for reporting in February that exposed alleged collusion between senior Nigerian police, customs officers and smugglers, within the motion of arms and meals gadgets throughout Nigeria’s border with Benin. A member of FIJ’s board was then questioned by Nigerian police in April, the group stated.

On Wednesday, the Committee to Shield Journalists (CPJ) released a statement urging authorities in Nigeria to “instantly launch journalist Daniel Ojukwu and cease intimidating and arresting members of the press who examine the federal government’s spending of public funds.”

“The Nigerian police’s investigation into such a good media outlet demonstrates the alarming extent to which they’re prepared to go to silence journalists in search of to show crime,” stated Angela Quintal, head of CPJ’s Africa program.

Ojukwu’s case is the newest in a rising variety of arrests of journalists over the past yr below President Bola Tinubu’s authorities. Final month, one other journalist, Segun Olatunji, was arrested and detained for 2 weeks by the Nigerian army, following a report revealing alleged corruption by the president’s chief of employees, Femi Gbajabiamila. He was launched final week with out cost and advised native media he had been stripped, blindfolded and detained by officers.

Varied media teams in Nigeria, together with the Nigerian Union of Journalists, launched a joint assertion urging the federal government to cease utilizing “repressive ways.” Nigeria is considered one of West Africa’s most harmful and troublesome international locations for journalists, who’re often monitored, attacked and arbitrarily arrested, according to Reporters Without Borders, which ranked Nigeria 112th out of 180 countries for press freedom.

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