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Nigeria: Rights groups demand release of detained journalist

May 9, 2024

Investigative journalist Daniel Ojukwu has been held without trial for over a week. Not only was his arrest illegal, say press freedom groups, so is his continued detention without charges.

Nigerian investigative journalist Daniel Ojukwu in an undated photo
Journalist Daniel Ojukwu has not spoken to family, friends or colleagues since his arrest more than a week agoImage: Foundation for Investigative Journalism/AP/picture alliance

Press freedom and human rights groups are demanding the release of investigative journalist Daniel Ojukwu.

These groups say Nigerian authorities ordered police to arrest Ojukwu after he reported on alleged corruption involving a high-ranking government official in an article published last November.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Ojukwu, who works for the Foundation for Investigative Journalism (FIJ), was arrested a week ago and has not been heard from since.

Under Nigerian law, any person detained must be brought before a judge to be charged within 48 hours or be released.

The FIJ said Ojukwu had been detained in May 1 over his article outlining the alleged misappropriation of public funds by a special assistant to former Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari. The FIJ said it had not been informed of the arrest until two days later.

Ojukwu's family said he had been detained in Lagos and was later transferred to the Nigerian capital Abuja, on what authorities said were violations of the country's cybercrime laws.

Nigeria: another bad place to be a journalist

Nigerian authorities have not responded to multiple requests for information submitted by rights and press freedom groups.

According to the latest data from the non-governmental organization Reporters without Borders (RSF), Nigeria ranks among the most dangerous countries for journalists in West Africa and ranked 112 of 180 countries globally on RSF's 2024 World Press Freedom Index.

RSF said journalists in the country regularly face physical attacks, constant government monitoring and arbitrary arrest. 

"Nigerian authorities must promptly and unconditionally release journalist Daniel Ojukwu and stop harassing and detaining journalists who publish investigative reports into corruption," demanded CPJ Africa Program Director Angela Quintal on the social media platform X.

js/lo (AFP, Reuters)