Human RightsNews

Nigerian Journalists Demand Release Of Daniel Ojukwu, Colleague Detained By Police

Ojukwu was secretly arrested by officers of the Intelligence Response Team of Nigeria’s police chief a week ago and is currently detained in Abuja.

A group of Nigerian journalists participating in the same media fellowship as Daniel Ojukwu have called for his release.

Ojukwu, a journalist with the Foundation for Investigative Journalism (FIJ), went missing on Wednesday, May 1. Days later, his family confirmed that he was held at the Lagos State Criminal Investigation Department in Panti under the allegation of violating the country’s cybercrimes law.  On Monday, May 6, FIJ reported that Ojukwu was arrested because of his report revealing how former presidential aide Orelope-Adefulire suspiciously transferred ₦147.1 million to a restaurant to construct classrooms and a skill acquisition centre.

The report was published as part of the GovSpend Media Fellowship, which is dedicated to promoting accountability journalism and transparency in government expenditures. The programme is supported by BudgIT, the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR), and the MacArthur Foundation.

At the fellowship’s close-out ceremony on Wednesday, May 8, Ojukwu’s co-fellows lent their voices to the campaign for his release. To communicate their demands to authorities, a press statement was signed by 11 fellows, BudgIT Foundation’s Board and Trustees, and the fellowship coordinator, Iyanuoluwa Bolarinwa.

“Just like his family and friends, our community was shocked by Daniel’s sudden disappearance on May 1, 2024, without any prior communication,” said BudgIT director Oluseun Onigbinde as he read the statement.

They described Ojukwu’s continued detention as ‘unacceptable’ and a violation of his fundamental human rights, which are guaranteed under local and international laws.

“It is troubling that the authorities have disregarded the constitution they swore to uphold by subjecting Daniel to false imprisonment. These actions go against the purported image of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration, especially coming on the heels of World Press Freedom Day,” they said.

“Daniel Ojukwu’s investigative work, along with that of other GovSpend fellows, has been instrumental in uncovering corruption across various levels of government, potentially saving the federal government a significant amount of public funds; thus, the efforts to promote accountability and transparency in government expenditures should be commended, not persecuted.”

They urged Nigeria’s President, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to intervene in the matter and ensure Ojukwu’s immediate release.

“Furthermore, we encourage the authorities to cease their unconstitutional actions and respect the rights of journalists and whistleblowers in Nigeria. We condemn this gross violation of human rights and all unjust actions targeted at journalists for their commitment to truth and transparency.”

The programme’s fellows include Abubakar Kankara of Daily Episode, Alfred Ajayi of Radio Nigeria, Aminah Salako-Adekunle of Radio Nigeria, Aminu Naganye of Wikki Times, Arinze Chijioke of Ripples Nigeria, Blessing Udeobasi of FIJ, Godwin Agwam of TVC, James Ojo of, Jamiu Folarin of Rock City FM, Johnstone Kpilaakaa of, and Sunday Elom of Sahara Reporters.

Group of people holding protest signs advocating for the freedom of Daniel Otukwu and stating that journalism is not a crime.
GovSpend fellows hold up placards demanding Ojukwu’s freedom during the press briefing on May 8, 2024. Photo: ‘Kunle Adebajo/HumAngle
An open newspaper featuring an article about financial irregularities with a man's photo and text on the page.
Daniel Ojukuwu’s report was exhibited at the close-out ceremony. Photo: ‘Kunle Adebajo/HumAngle

Ojukwu was secretly arrested by officers of the Intelligence Response Team of Nigeria’s police chief and is currently detained in Abuja.

Various organisations, including Amnesty International, the Coalition for Whistleblowers Protection and Press Freedom (CWPPF), and the International Press Institute, have condemned his detention.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Committee to Protect Journalists also demanded Ojukwu’s release and urged the Nigerian authorities to stop intimidating members of the press who are only doing their duty of holding the government accountable.

Since Tinubu was sworn into office nearly a year ago, many Nigerian journalists have faced harassment and arrests in the course of their work, bringing about concerns regarding the state of press freedom under his administration.

Support Our Journalism

There are millions of ordinary people affected by conflict in Africa whose stories are missing in the mainstream media. HumAngle is determined to tell those challenging and under-reported stories, hoping that the people impacted by these conflicts will find the safety and security they deserve.

To ensure that we continue to provide public service coverage, we have a small favour to ask you. We want you to be part of our journalistic endeavour by contributing a token to us.

Your donation will further promote a robust, free, and independent media.

Donate Here

Of course, we want our exclusive stories to reach as many people as possible and would appreciate it if you republish them. We only ask that you properly attribute to HumAngle, generally including the author's name, a link to the publication and a line of acknowledgement. Contact us for enquiries or requests.

Contact Us

'Kunle Adebajo

Head of Investigations at HumAngle. ‘Kunle covers conflict alongside its many intricacies and fallouts. He also writes about disinformation, the environment, and human rights. He's won a couple of journalism awards, including the 2021 Wole Soyinka Award for Investigative Journalism, the 2022 African Fact-checking Award, and the 2023 Michael Elliott Award for Excellence in African Storytelling.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Translate »