HURIWA Condemns Police’s Abduction of Journalist Ojukwu

HURIWA Condemns Police’s Abduction of Journalist Ojukwu

… Calls For His Immediate Release

The gestapo styled armed abduction of a journalist with the Foundation for Investigative Journalism, Daniel Ojukwu, by the Intelligence Response Team of the Inspector General of Police, has been described as the criminal act of aggression that should never be tolerated in any democracy just as the Rights group: Human Rights Writers Association Of Nigeria (HURIWA) has called for his unconditional and immediate release and for the prosecution of the abductors.

 The National coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko signed the media statement issued at the weekend.

“HURIWA is not in any way surprised that this primitive act of police sabotage of constitutionalism has happened because we know and we are living witnesses to the obvious fact that Freedom of the press is dead in Nigeria and democracy is very sick”.

“This was why we called on Nigerians to be vigilant on Friday, the May 3rd 2024 when the World marked the international press Freedom Day.

This brute act of criminality by the Office of the Inspector General of Police has demonstrated the absolute falsehood in the distorted and farcical claim by the information minister that the government of Tinubu has no history of any arrest of journalists even when it is true that Segun Olatunji of First News was kidnapped by soldiers from the Defence Headquarters which is directly under the control and command of the President and Commander-In-Chief of the armed forces of the federation.”

“It is therefore illogical for the minister of information who is the publisher of an Abuja based Blueprint newspaper to brazenly make a claim that doesn’t tally with the reality in Nigeria. 

Therefore, we are tasking the minister of information to ask the president to order the IGP to release this journalist that his men kidnapped.” 

“This is not how the police should behave in a democratic society.  If you claim that a journalist has transgressed against any known law, the police must comply with the principle of rule of law and use civilised means to invite the journalist together with ensuring the physical presence of his lawyer and free him/her immediately just as the Police can’t be the prosecutor and the judge in its own case.

“If the IGP is accusing a journalist of any offence, why can’t the IGP in his personal capacity go to court against that individual rather than misuse his official powers and privileges to haunt and bundle an entirely unarmed journalist into police cell without any recognition of his constitutional rights to fair hearing and for the fact that he the journalist is absolutely innocent in the eyes of the law until the court of competent jurisdiction determines otherwise (section 36(5) of the constitution) and the office of the IGP is not that of the dictator.

The IGP should be queried for this act of disrespect for the constitution of Nigeria. President Tinubu must stop the massive media suppression going on under his nose.

HURIWA recalled that the journalist Mr. Ojukwu is currently being held at the State Criminal Investigation Department, Panti, in Lagos State, FIJ reports.

Ojukwu was said to have gone missing on Wednesday and was unreachable as 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.

However, on Friday, a private detective hired by FIJ tracked the last active location of his phones to an address in Isheri Olofin, a location FIJ now believes was where the police originally picked him up.

According to the FIJ report, Ojukwu’s family learned of his detention at Panti and understood that authorities were accusing him of violating the 2015 Cybercrime Act.

A relative who visited him told FIJ that the authorities refused to provide contact details of the Investigating Police Officer on jurisdictional grounds as the case was beyond Lagos.

“The arresting officers are part of the IG Monitoring Team. They said when they are done arresting the other people on their watchlist in Lagos, they would transfer him and others to Abuja,” FIJ quoted the family member as saying.

The Nigeria Police Force is yet to speak on Ojukwu’s abduction.

His abduction came at a time Nigerian journalist, on Thursday, joined their counterparts across the globe to mark the World Press Freedom Day.

FIJ noted that on this same day last year, World Press Freedom Day 2023, men of the Area F Police in Lagos arrested Ojukwu for telling them to stop punching a driver.

According to the FIJ, when the Nigeria Police Force National Cybercrime Centre grilled Bukky Shonibare, the chairman of FIJ’s Board of Trustees, at their Abuja office in March, they had mentioned FIJ’s story on how Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, the then Senior Special Assistant on Sustainable Development Goals (SSAP-SDGs) to the President, paid N147.1 million to an account traced to Enseno Global Ventures (Enseno GV), an Abuja-based restaurant, for — guess what — the construction of a classroom!

Seven days later, Ademuyiwa Adejobi, Police Public Relations Officer, then told ‘Politics Today’, a Channels TV programme anchored by Seun Okinbaloye, that there were “two or three weighty allegations” against FIJ and its founder ‘Fisayo Soyombo.

HURIWA is therefore asking President Bola Ahmed Tinubu who is the Commander-In-Chief of the armed forces of the federation to issue a query to the IGP and to order the unconditional and immediate release of the abducted journalist.

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