Activists to protest reporter’s detention in Abuja Thursday

Protesters have vowed to storm the headquarters of the Nigeria Police Force in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, on Thursday, over the prolonged detention of a reporter with the Foundation for Investigative Journalism, Daniel Ojukwu.

On Wednesday, flyers circulating on social media shared by activists, journalists and other Nigerians called people to “join us for a peaceful protest at the police headquarters Abuja on Thursday by 9am”.

Former presidential candidate and publisher of Sahara Reporters, Omoyele Sowore, also shared the flyer on X which had the reporter’s image, captioning it “An end to #CybercrimeAct2015Now. Let’s all be there at 9 am tomorrow (Thursday).”

Human rights group, the Take It Back Movement, also posted on X, “We will be here tomorrow at 9 am, prompt! Join us. #FreeDanielOjukwu.”

The group’s coordinator, Juwon Sanyaolu, further confirmed to our correspondent in an interview, “We are rallying all our members to participate in the protest. This is democracy and the police are not bigger than the law.”

A lawyer and activist, Deji Adeyanju, also wrote on X, “The protest at the Force Headquarters will also be an opportunity to protest against cybercrime levy.”

Ojukwu was picked up Wednesday, May 1, 2024, by the police on the streets of Lagos and was transferred to the Nigeria Police Force-National Cyber Crime Centre in Abuja on Sunday.

Widespread condemnations have trailed the journalist’s abduction even as the police maintain that a petition was filed against the journalist but have not given details.

The President of the Nigerian Guild of Editors, Eze Anaba, condemned the reporter’s abduction.

“The police cannot detain somebody for seven days under any law in Nigeria as we speak,” he had told The PUNCH on Tuesday.

FIJ on Monday reported that a Senior Advocate of Nigeria was behind the petition that led to the abduction of Ojukwu by the police.

According to the media house, the petition is in relation to FIJ’s coverage of alleged financial mismanagement in the office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals, Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire.

In one of its investigative pieces on the office, FIJ had reported how a sum of N147.1m reportedly meant for the building of classrooms and a skill acquisition centre was allegedly sent to the account of a restaurant.

But in a statement on its X handle on Monday, the OSSAP-SDGs denied the allegation, describing it as “false from the onset.”

The statement said the office “has been transparent in its operations and project implementation processes” and noted that “therefore, the assertion that our project was sponsored by a restaurant is false and baseless.”

The Director of the Cyber Crime Centre, Uche Ifeanyi, on Tuesday, told The PUNCH the bail conditions for the detained journalist who has spent seven days in custody had not been met.

“We’ve served them papers for bail conditions. I think the problem is they’ve not been able to meet up with the bail conditions. The person they brought on Monday could not even produce an ID card. They brought someone on Tuesday who is not a civil servant. You know how sensitive the case is. So, once they bring the civil servant of measure, we will know,” he said.

FIJ’s founder, Fisayo Soyombo said on Tuesday it was “insane” to keep the journalist for that long. “I can’t believe this is happening in a democracy. The law is clear. If you feel that something false has been published against you, the process is laid down, you go to court and institute a case. You can’t just pick someone in Gestapo style and claim the person has a case to answer.”