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BREAKING: CSOs, Sowore Protest At Nigeria Police Headquarters In Abuja, Demand Immediate Release Of Detained FIJ Journalist, Ojukwu

BREAKING: CSOs, Sowore Protest At Nigeria Police Headquarters In Abuja, Demand Immediate Release Of Detained FIJ Journalist, Ojukwu...Continue The Full Reading.

The group expressed concerns regarding press freedom and shrinking civic space in Nigeria and vowed to continue to occupy the building until the journalist is released.

A coalition of civil society groups under the aegis of Action Group for the Protection of Civic Actors and a human rights activist, Omoyele Sowore on Thursday staged a protest at the Force Headquarters in Abuja to demand the release of a journalist with Foundation for Investigative Journalism (FIJ), Daniel Ojukwu, who has been detained since Wednesday, May 1, 2024.

The group expressed concerns regarding press freedom and shrinking civic space in Nigeria and vowed to continue to occupy the building until the journalist is released.

Speaking on behalf of the coalition, Bukky Shonibare said free press and public participation are fundamental pillars of democracy.

She said the recent abduction and continued detention of Daniel Ojukwu, exemplified this disregard for the rule of law and democratic principles.

She said, “Civil society organisations across the country are deeply concerned about the growing cases of attacks on press freedom, and the flagrant abuse of due process and the rule of law by the Nigeria police under the Inspector General of Police, IGP Kayode Adeolu Egbetokun, Ph.D., NPM.”

The Action Group on the Protection of Civic Actors, a Nigerian coalition of media and civil society groups working alongside international allies sounded the alarm on the recent surge in attacks on press freedom and the silencing of dissent and civic voices.

It said that a free press and public participation are fundamental pillars of our democracy “thus the continuous silencing of journalists and civic actors who hold power accountable undermines the provisions of Sections 22 and 39 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), which guarantees freedom of the press and freedom of expression, respectively”.

The coordinated use of state resources, mischievous interpretation and hyper-application of laws, especially the Cybercrimes Act of 2015 which has now been amended, and the abuse of power and public institutions were all described as draconian tactics deployed to further shrink Nigeria’s fragile civic space.

It noted that such tactics have no place in a democracy, where accountability and transparency in governance are essential.

It noted that the recent abduction and continued detention of Ojukwu exemplifies the disregard for the rule of law and democratic principles.

Even though the Nigeria police have filed no formal charges against the journalist, he has remained in custody.

It noted that Ojukwu’s unlawful arrest and detention contravenes the combined reading and cumulative effect of Sections 34, 35, and 41 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, which protects his rights to respect for the dignity of his person, personal liberty, and freedom of movement.

The coalition said, “Daniel Ojukwu’s case is the most recent in a recurring trend of similar attacks and harassment aimed at the media and other civic actors by Nigerian law enforcement and security agents.

“The familiar pattern these attacks seem to take is that the instrumentality of the Nigerian security apparatus is set loose on these individuals as soon as they express views unfavourable to the administration or in the case of journalists, as soon as they publish credible stories that cast the administration in an unflattering light. The expression of opinions, however critical they are of the government, is one of the critical bedrocks of democracy.

“Consequently, we unequivocally condemn Daniel’s abduction and unlawful detention as unconstitutional, illegal, immoral, and unbecoming in a country that claims to practice democracy.

“We maintain that for Nigeria to claim its status as the continent’s largest democracy, its institutions and law enforcement agencies must uphold established standards and procedures consistent with democratic norms. Until then, Nigeria cannot reconcile the title of the “largest democracy in Africa” with the practices and principles reminiscent of a police state”

According to Sowore, the Nigerian police under the leadership of Egbetokun have continued to demonstrate their impunity and blatant disregard for the rule of law and democratic principles.

The former presidential candidate, therefore, called on the police chief to order the immediate release of the journalist or face a nationwide mass action.

He reminded the police of the amendment of the Cybercrime Act 2015 by the National Assembly, adding that the police have no right to charge any Nigerian including journalists with cyberstalking.

The coalition comprises Enough is Enough Nigeria, Nigeria Network of NGOs (NNNGO), Invictus Africa, Accountability Lab Nigeria, Public and Private Development Centre (PPDC), Global Rights, International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR), Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID), Dataphyte, Gatefield, and BudgIT Foundation among others.

Others are WikkiTimes, Hope Behind Bars Africa, Partners West Africa, Media Rights Agenda, International Press Centre, TheCable, Premium Times, Digicivic Initiative, Foundation for Investigative Journalism (FIJ) and BONews Service....Continue The Full Reading.>’. 

We are now at the Nigeria Police Force @policeng headquarters for #FreeDanielOjukwu protest pic.twitter.com/EaQYergcS4

— Omoyele Sowore (@YeleSowore) May 9, 2024

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