Press Freedom: We Demand Release of FIJ Journalist

The arrest of Foundation for Investigative Journalism (FIJ) journalist, Daniel Ojukwu, by the Nigerian police is a violation of press freedom and a direct assault on democracy.

Development Diaries reports that Ojukwu, who was reported to have gone missing on 01 May, was later discovered to be in police custody.

According to FIJ’s report, Ojukwu has been transferred to the Force Criminal Investigation Department (FCID) in Abuja and is accused of violating the 2015 Cybercrime Act.

More troubling is the fact that not long ago, First News Editor, Segun Olatunji, was abducted from his residence in Lagos in March 2024.

The rate of abduction of journalists in Nigeria is becoming worrisome. The targeting and silencing of journalists undermine the very foundation of democracy in the country and hinder the public’s right to know.

We totally condemn this action, as it suppresses freedom of expression and obstructs the flow of information necessary for a functioning democracy.  It is also a blatant abuse of power.

In a democratic society, journalists must be allowed to operate without fear of intimidation or retaliation from the government. The values of democracy and accountability are put in jeopardy when attempts are made to silence journalists through intimidation or arrests.

Per section 39 of Nigeria’s constitution, every person is entitled to freedom of expression, including freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference. Also, section 35 of the constitution guarantees the right to personal liberty for every Nigerian.

‘Every person shall be entitled to his personal liberty and no person shall be deprived of such liberty save in the following cases and in accordance with a procedure permitted by law – in execution of the sentence or order of a court in respect of a criminal offence of which he has been found guilty’, it read.

If Ojukwu has not been charged with any crime, found guilty, and sentenced on the order of a court, the police have no right to hold him in detention.

Development Diaries calls on the Nigeria Police Force to uphold press freedom by ensuring the immediate release of Ojukwu.

We also call on the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, to do more than pay lip service to the issue of press freedom in Nigeria and ensure the safety and freedom of journalists to report without fear of reprisal.

Photo source: Fisayo Soyombo


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