Sowore slams Nigeria Police for unjust detention of FIJ journalist Daniel Ojukwu

The abducted FIJ reporter, Daniel Ojukwu

By Emmanuel Babafemi

In a recent development, Omoyele Sowore, a pro-democracy activist, has strongly condemned the Nigerian Police for the unjust detention of journalist Daniel Ojukwu, despite fulfilling all bail conditions.

The Foundation for Investigative Journalism reporter was reportedly abducted by the Intelligence Response Team and detained for alleged violations of the 2015 Cybercrime Act.

Sowore, the presidential candidate of the African Action Congress in the 2023 elections, expressed his dismay at the situation, stating, “We’ve spent the last two days in Abuja to get Daniel Ojukwu of @fijnigeria bailed out from unjust incarceration, meeting police officers in their offices.”

He highlighted systemic issues within the police force, pointing to a breakdown in command structure, the influence of junior officers with connections surpassing their superiors, and a lack of willingness to embrace reforms post-#ENDSARS movement.

The activist accused authorities of prioritizing allegiance to political elites over upholding the rights of Nigerian citizens and seeking to control media narratives.

He added, “A few things are clear, there is a breakdown in the @PoliceNG command structure; we met junior officers who are more potent and powerful than their bosses based on their connections; also, we noted that the @policeng is not interested in reforms.”

Efforts to secure Ojukwu’s release faced challenges, with strict bail conditions initially set beyond the authority of Deputy Director of NPF NCCC, DCP Usman Imam. Despite modifications to fulfill the conditions, a fresh order from higher authorities reverted to stricter terms, frustrating attempts to secure Ojukwu’s release and prolonging his detention.

The journalist’s arrest, reportedly triggered by a petition linked to FIJ’s coverage of alleged financial mismanagement, has sparked widespread outrage among activists, media stakeholders, and the public, calling for justice and the immediate release of Ojukwu.

ALSO READ: Togo’s President Gnassingbe signs law to extend decades-long rule

Sowore, alongside human rights lawyer Deji Adeyanju and NUJ FCT Correspondents’ Chapel Chairman Jide Oyekunle, have been actively involved in efforts to secure Ojukwu’s freedom, facing obstacles due to interference from higher authorities.

How Ojukwu was allegedly abducted

According to FIJ’s account, Daniel Ojukwu, a journalist with the Foundation for Investigative Journalism (FIJ), went missing on Wednesday, May 1, 2024, with his phone numbers switched off, leaving his whereabouts unknown to colleagues, family, and friends.

Concerned about his disappearance, FIJ made a missing person report at police stations in the area where Ojukwu was last seen heading. A private detective hired by FIJ tracked the last active location of Ojukwu’s phones to an address in Isheri Olofin, believed to be where the police initially picked him up.

His family later discovered that he was detained at the State Criminal Investigation Department, Panti, Lagos, accused of violating the 2015 Cybercrime Act.

Despite efforts to locate him, authorities refused to provide contact details of the Investigating Police Officer due to jurisdictional grounds.

Ojukwu’s abduction by the Intelligence Response Team of the Inspector General of Police has raised concerns and sparked outrage, leading to various attempts by activists, media stakeholders, and colleagues to secure his release and ensure his safety.

The situation remains fluid as stakeholders continue to push for transparency, accountability, and the protection of press freedom in Nigeria amidst growing concerns over the treatment of journalists and the need for justice in Ojukwu’s case.