June 13, 2024

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Police yield to pressure and release IFJ correspondent after protests

Police yield to pressure and release IFJ correspondent after protests

Following protests by some civil society organizations in Abuja, Federal Capital Territory, journalist Daniel Ojukwu of the Investigative Journalism Foundation, who was kidnapped by the Intelligence Response Team of the Inspector General of Police, has regained his freedom.

Ojukwu regained his freedom on Friday after ten days in police captivity.

FIFA revealed this on Friday on its website.

Ojukwu was said to have gone missing on Wednesday, May 1, his numbers have been closed and his whereabouts are unknown to his colleagues, family and friends.

Twenty-four hours after his disappearance, the International Federation of Journalists filed a missing person’s report at police stations in the area where Ojukwu was heading.

Furthermore, an IFJ-appointed investigator traced the last active location of the journalist’s phones to an address in Isheri Olofin, a location which the IFJ now believes was where he was originally picked up by police.

Ojukwu’s family subsequently learned of his detention in Panti, where they understood that authorities were accusing him of violating the 2015 Cybercrime Act.

Meanwhile, on Sunday morning, the Intelligence Response Team of the Inspector General of Police transferred him to the National Cyber ​​Crime Center of the Nigerian Police Force in Abuja.

The police handed over IJC lawyers and negotiators led by SaharaReporters newspaper publisher, Omoyele Sowore; Chairman of the Nigerian Union of Journalists in the Church of FCT Correspondent Jed Oyekunle; and Bukky Shonibare, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the International Federation of Justice (FIJ) strict bail conditions.

On Thursday, some civil society organizations and journalists stormed the force headquarters in Abuja to demand the release of Ojukwu.

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A banner demanding the release of Daniel Ojukwu during a protest at the force headquarters in Abuja on Thursday [Credit: @BukkyShonibare]
A banner demanding the release of Daniel Ojukwu during a protest at the force headquarters in Abuja on Thursday [Credit: @BukkyShonibare]

Among the protesters is lawyer Deji Adeyanju. Pro-democracy activist and African Action Congress presidential candidate in the 2023 general elections, Sowore; Among other things.

The demonstrators were seen carrying banners reading “Release Daniel Ojukwu,” “No to the police state,” “Journalism is not a crime,” and “Stop impunity.”

However, after civil society organizations organized a march to the force headquarters on Thursday to press for his release, police began to tone down the matter, leading to his eventual release on Friday.

“The case of Daniel Ojukwu is one of the most egregious cases of human rights violations and abuse of police powers against journalists,” said Abimbola Ojenyike, Managing Partner of Slingstone LP, IFJ’s lawyer.

“This will not go unchallenged. There is a significant public interest in Daniel’s human rights enforcement actions that goes beyond just this violation. The constitutional right to freedom of expression is dead if journalists can no longer expose wrongdoing by government officials without fear or repression.”