Rising Concerns as Nigerian Journalists Suffer Arrests by Security Forces 

The Nigeria Police has arrested Investigative Journalist, Daniel Ojukwu over allegations of cybercrime. 

Ojukwu, who works with Foundation for Investigative Journalism, FIJ was said to be arrested on May 3rd, 2024.

According to the FIJ, the reporter was abducted by the Intelligence Response Team IRT of the Inspector General Of Police on Wednesday but his abduction only became known on Friday. 

This is coming as journalists across the globe celebrated World Press Freedom Day. 

WikkiTimes learnt that the reporter is currently being held at the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID), Panti, in Lagos, and has been denied access to legal representation

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“The FIJ stated that upon discovering his unknown destination and finding his phone switched off, it initially filed a missing person report at police stations in the area where Ojukwu was believed to have been headed on Thursday, May 2.

“On Friday, May 3, the media platform subsequently hired a private detective to track the last active location of his phones, which was traced to an address in Isheri Olofin, a location FIJ now believes was where the police originally picked him up.

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“The reporter’s family later learned about his detention at Panti, where they were informed that the authorities were accusing him of violating the 2015 Cybercrime Act.

“According to a family member who visited the station, the authorities refused to provide contact details for the Investigating Police Officer (IPO) due to jurisdictional issues, as the case extended beyond Lagos.” the report read. 

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Despite the IRT’s silence over the reason behind Ojukwu’s arrest, WikkiTimes understands that it is not unconnected to the reporter’s story on former senior special assistant on sustainable development goals (SSAP-SDGs) to the President.

The story detailed a payment of N147.1 million to an account linked to Enseno Global Ventures, an Abuja-based restaurant, supposedly to construct a classroom. 

And More Nigerian Journalists Harassed, Detained.

As the clampdown on media owners and journalists in Nigeria by state and non-state actors continues, at least 39 journalists were harassed for doing their work in 2023 alone, with many detained and subjected to traumatic experiences.

WikkiTimes’ Publisher and Editor-in-chief Haruna Muhammed Salisu was detained for days before being taken to court while covering the February 2023 poll in Alkaleri, the birthplace of Governor Bala Muhammad of Bauchi State.

After spending horrific days in police custody amidst deadly thugs and terrorists, Haruna was charged with defamation and attempting to disrupt public peace for just covering protests by some voters in Duguri, Alkaleri LGA of Bauchi State; this up to today, the government continues to haunt him.

Yakubu Mohammed, Ex-WikkiTimes’ Editor was harassed for exposing terrorism financing, illegal mining in Niger state in September 2023.

Yakubu came under surveillance by officials of the Nigerian Police Force, and placed under their watch list. Yet he was never alone, his wife, friend and colleagues were threatened and described as sub-targets.

The ICR similarly reported that its Executive Director, 18 others were attacked while covering the 2023 general elections held between February and March. For ICR’s Dayo Ayetan, he was assaulted by thugs in Gwagwalada Abuja, who tore his clothes and stole his phone, car key, purse and pouch containing his debit cards, driver’s licenses and other items.

It is not only Haruna and Dayo that were harassed during the 2023 elections but also in Nasarawa, officials of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) attacked a journalist with Breeze FM in Lafia, Edwin Philip, while reporting the governorship and state House of Assembly elections in Nasarawa on March 18.

The ICR added that on the same day, a journalist with Premier Radio, Ashiru Umar was attacked by armed thugs while covering the poll in the Gwale local government area of Kano state.

Additionally, Adedola Ajayi, a journalist with People’s Gazette, was harassed by hoodlums, some of whom wore vests branded with the All Progressives Congress (APC) during the Presidential and National Assembly elections in Lagos. Her phone was seized, and some information on the phone was deleted.

The trend also happened in Lagos as in March, a cameraman and other crew members with Arise TV were assaulted around the Elguishi palace in Lagos. The cameraman sustained facial injuries, and his equipment was seized.

In Ibadan, the Oyo state capital, youths attacked a vehicle conveying at least two reporters with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) during the general elections, while in Bayelsa, supporters of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) attacked three journalists covering elections, including Akam James, a Daily Post correspondent, Upfront News magazine Publisher, Princewill Sede, and Jeany Metta, the Managing Editor.

Other journalists harassed include Judiciary Correspondent with the Cable, Bolanle Olabintan whose phone was seized and photos deleted by thugs in Delta state, and in Rivers state, the Police detained a reporter with Punch newspaper and threatened to shoot him during the elections. He was driven around Port Harcourt city, and images taken with his phone were deleted before he was released.

Moreover, five observers from the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID) were assaulted in Sokoto, Akwa Ibom, Kogi, Lagos and Osun states while covering the elections. The observers are Taiwo Fatola, Abiodun Jamiu, Adesola Ikulajolu and Richard Ekeke among others.

4 More Journalists Arrested In 2024

  1. Kasarahchi Aniagolu
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February 21, 2024: Journalist Kasarahchi Aniagolu of The Whistler newspaper is detained, assaulted, and hit with a gun by police officers while reporting on a police raid in Wuse, Abuja.

  1. Dele Fasan

February 23, 2024: Seven soldiers arrest and handcuff journalist Dele Fasan, South-South Bureau Chief of Galaxy Television, hitting him with a gun as he films at a protest scene in Delta State.

  1. Segun Olatunji

March 15, 2024: Around 15 armed men, including individuals in military-style uniforms, arrive at the home of Segun Olatunji, editor of First News, forcing him to come with them without explanation.

  1. Daniel Ojukwu

May 1, 2024: Daniel Ojukwu, a journalist with the Foundation for Investigative Journalism (FIJ), is reportedly taken into custody by the Intelligence Response Team. Ojukwu goes missing with his phone numbers turned off, and his whereabouts unknown to colleagues, family, and friends for days.

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