We’ll Soon Release Detained Journalist, Daniel Ojukwu -Police


By Sunday Etuka, Abuja

The Nigeria Police Force (NPF) has assured that the incarcerated journalist, Daniel Ojukwu would soon regain freedom.

Commissioner of Police, Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Benneth Igweh gave the assurance on Thursday while Briefing Media Practitioners and Members of Civil Society Organisations who besieged the Force Headquarters (Louis Edet House) in Abuja to demand his release.

Daniel Ojukwu, a reporter with the Foundation for Investigative Journalism (FIJ), was alleged to have been arbitrarily arrested by the Nigeria police over a story highlighting financial irregularities in the Buhari administration.

According to FIJ, Ojukwu who was arrested in Lagos and later transferred to FCT, following his report on alleged financial mismanagement of over N147 million ($104,600) involving a senior government official, is yet to regain his freedom after eight days in detention.

The Foundation said, his protracted detention even after meeting his bail conditions was worrisome, and against the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

However, addressing the Peaceful Protesters who were dressed in blacks, and carried placards with inscriptions like: “Free Ojukwu Now”, “Journalism is not cybercrime!”, “Freedom of Expression is a Human Right. Stop Jailing Journalists”, “Enough is Enough! Protect Nigeria’s Civil Space”, CP Igweh announced that the detained journalist would soon be released.

The Commissioner of Police noted that “every Nigerian Citizen, has his or her right which include journalists, but the fact that somebody is a journalist does not exclude or expel him from offence, if you are a journalist and you commit strong offence, we’ll arrest you, and we’ll prosecute you like every other citizen. This one, we’ll look into the matter, there is no need for this protest.

“The Force Management Team is taking a lot of things into consideration to release him. We and the Press are friends. We are partners in progress. There is no need to protest because, every Nigerian including the journalists is entitled to his rights and privileges. The issue is being taking care of”, he said.

Asked when he would be released specifically, the CP said, “I am giving assurance that from here now, I am going there, and I am the CP of FCT, every other office is within FCT. I am talking with the DIG Force Criminal Investigation Department (CID), I don’t need to disclose everything here, he will be released”, he said.

Earlier, Human Rights Activist, and 2023 Presidential Candidate of the African Action Congress (AAC), Omoyele Sowore asserted that the Cybercrime Act of 2015 was intended to prevent journalists from performing their constitutionally assigned duties.

The Publisher of the Sahara Reporters who said, he has a radical agenda to pull Nigeria out of the doldrums said, the Cybercrime Act, “returns the power to the police to reintroduce what they called sedition in Precolonial and colonial eras. Summarily, if you insult or write something against the colonial masters, you be arrested and jailed.

“However, it has already been amended to exclude what the police is doing now. The plan is for the Police to take control of what journalists write. If they are satisfied with you, you are free, but if they are not satisfied with you, they just summarily detain you. And refuse to take you to court as done in the case of Daniel Ojukwu now”, he said.

On her part, a Digital Media and Gender Rights Lawyer, and the Executive Director, Digicivic Initiative, Mojirayo Ogunlana said, “we are here today to protest the unlawful and illegal arrest of Daniel Ojukwu who is a reporter of FIJ and you know that FIJ is an investigative journalism organisation and they have been very critical in holding government institutions and agencies accountable in Nigeria.

“Now Daniel was abducted by the Police, he was not invited, he was abducted. They took him in a situation where nobody was aware, until somebody found out. Police did not inform anybody, they kept in custody without access to his lawyers, without access to his family.

“After they have done that and they realised that people have found out, they picked Daniel Ojukwu from Lagos and transferred him to FCID in Abuja, where he has been detained for eight days.

“And they have not charged him to court which is against the provisions of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which provides that it is either 24 hours where there is a court within short distance or 48 hours where there is no court within short distance.

“But I can tell you for free, for every kilometre in Abuja there is a court, so they have not excuse, there is a court that they would have charged him”, Ogunlana said.

Asked if they have written to the Inspector-General of Police, IGP Kayode Egbetokun to inform him of the development, she said, “we have written to the IGP and we have come here again to protest the unlawful arrest and detention.

“In fact, some of our legal colleagues had gone to the police station trying to get the bail of Daniel Ojukwu, but they have made it very difficult for them, which is contrary also to the conditions laid down under the constitution for the granting of bail”, she lamented.

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