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Journalist abducted by police regains freedom

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Mr Daniel Ojukwu, a journalist with the Foundation for Investigative Journalism who was kidnapped by the Intelligence Response Team of the Inspector General of Police has been released.

Ojukwu regained his freedom on Friday after 10 days in police custody.

This was disclosed by the media outlet on Friday on its website.

Ojukwu was said to have gone missing on Wednesday, May 1, his numbers were switched off and his whereabouts unknown to colleagues, family and friends.

Twenty-four hours after he went missing, FIJ made a missing person report at police stations in the area where Ojukwu was headed.

Ojukwu’s family subsequently got wind of his detention at Panti, where they were made to understand the authorities were accusing him of violating the 2015 Cybercrime Act.

Meanwhile, on Sunday morning, the Intelligence Response Team of the Inspector General of Police relocated him to the Nigeria Police Force National Cybercrime Centre in Abuja.

The police gave FIJ’s lawyers and negotiators led by the publisher of SaharaReporters, Omoyele Sowore; chairman of Nigeria Union of Journalists FCT Correspondent’s Chapel Jide Oyekunle; and Bukky Shonibare, chairman of FIJ’s Board of Trustees stringent bail conditions.

On Thursday, some Civil Society Organisations and journalists stormed the Force Headquarters in Abuja to demand the release of Ojukwu.

The protesters include a legal practitioner, Deji Adeyanju; a Pro-democracy activist and presidential candidate of the African Action Congress in the 2023 general elections, Sowore; amongst others.

The protesters were seen carrying banners with the inscriptions, ‘Free Daniel Ojukwu,’ ‘No to a police state,’ Journalism is not a crime,’ and ‘Stop the impunity.’

However, after civil society organisations marched to the Force Headquarters on Thursday to press for his release, the police started to soft-pedal, leading to his eventual release on Friday.

“Daniel Ojukwu’s case is one of the most egregious cases of human rights violation and misuse of the powers of the Police against journalists,” said Abimbola Ojenike, Managing Partner of Slingstone LP, FIJ’s attorneys.

“This will not go unchallenged. There’s a significant public interest in Daniel’s human rights enforcement action that goes beyond just this violation. The constitutional right to free speech is dead if journalists can no longer expose the malfeasance in government officials without fear or oppression.”

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