CWPPF condemns police for arresting, detaining journalist

The Coalition for Whistleblowers Protection and Press Freedom is concerned about the reported arrest and continued detention of Daniel Ojukwu, a journalist with the Foundation for Investigative Journalism, for alleged violation of the 2015 Cybercrime Act by the Nigeria Police.

A report by the FIJ said Ojukwu was abducted by the police on May 1 and his phones have since been switched off.

A statement signed by Busola Ajibola, Deputy Director, Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development, stated: “His family only got wind of his whereabouts on Friday, May 3 2024, that he is being held at the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID), Panti in Lagos.

“In a phone conversation with CJID, the Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Benjamin Hundeyin confirmed that Mr Ojukwu was arrested by men of the National Cybercrime Centre (NCCC) of the Nigerian Police and is detained at the facilities of the Lagos state Police Criminal Investigation Department (SCID), Panti.

“CWPPF condemns the arrest and continued detention of Mr. Ojukwu. Arbitrary arrest and detention of journalists remain unacceptable as it negates the basic principles of democracy. 

“The arrest and continued detention of Mr Ojukwu is not only a violation of his fundamental human rights but also an assault on press freedom.”

The group further called on the Nigeria Police to immediately release Ojukwu and follow legal procedures to engage him.

The group urged the Inspector General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun, to ensure that the Cybercrime Act, 2015 ceases to be a weapon used in the harassment and arbitrary detaining of journalists and media workers.

It added: “We make this call based on past instances where the Cybercrime law has been used to criminalise journalism, harass and detain them. 

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“We reiterate that such intimidation constitutes an attack on press freedom and the right of the people to information.

“The Nigerian Police in this instance must therefore avoid using the Cybercrimes Act to suppress investigative journalism aimed at entrenching a transparent and accountable system. 

“Journalism plays a critical role in democracy, and such actions are bound to undermine its core principles.”

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