This story opens with the Foundation of Investigative Journalism (FIJ Nigeria), a media organisation that pursues investigative stories such as corrupt activities at Nigeria’s borders, decadence within the police force and negligence of citizen rights. 

However, the job often comes with lawsuits and unlawful detentions. The most recent is the recent arrest of FIJ journalist, Daniel Ojukwu.

What’s the backstory?

Daniel Ojukwu, an investigative journalist for FIJ, went missing on May 1, 2024, with his phone switched off. On May 3, FIJ Nigeria discovered him in police custody on May 3, detained over a report he published in November 2023.

Despite meeting bail conditions, the Nigerian Police allegedly refused to release Ojukwu due to an “order from above”. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) called on Nigerian authorities to release Ojukwu and end press intimidation in the country.

 He was being held at the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID) on allegations of violating the Cybercrimes Act. On May 5, Ojukwu was transferred to the National Cybercrime Centre in Abuja from Panti in Lagos.

Why was he really arrested?

Daniel Ojukwu was arrested over a report in which he alleged that Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, Senior Special Assistant to Ex-President Buhari on Sustainable Development Goals, diverted ₦147 million (US$106,154) of government money into a restaurant’s bank account. A complaint was filed on behalf of the Ex-President’s SSA by an NGO affiliated with the All Progressive Congress (APC) political party. 

Ojukwu’s detention by the Nigerian Police is not the first of its kind. On February 7, police charged reporters, Azeez, Ayatullahi, Taofeek and Damilola, with conspiracy under section 27(1)(b), and cyberstalking under section 24(1)(b), of Nigeria’s Cybercrimes Act, and defamation under section 393 of the penal code. The most recent case is First News Editor, Segun Olatunji, who recently resigned from his role after his release from police custody on March 28, 2024. His firm claimed that his reports were falsified after his arrest but Segun Olatunji maintains his stand and says that his reports are true.

As Democracy Day draws closer, concerns continue to rise about press freedom in Nigeria.

What was the Nigerian Police’s response?

Following the protests at Abuja on Thursday, May 9, 2024, by action groups affiliated with press freedom and human rights protection in Nigeria, the FCT Police Commissioner, Ben Igweh, assured that the detained Daniel Ojukwu will soon be released from detention. 

This promise was kept on May 10, 2024, when Ojukwu was released.

Daniel Ojukwu and Bukky Shonibare after his release on Friday, May 10, 2024.

The CP also warned journalists to be careful of what they write and say as they would be arrested and prosecuted like normal citizens if found guilty. Although Daniel Ojukwu is now free, many questions linger. Every journalist behind a keyboard may be writing with a new fear. 

A few weeks back it was Segun Olatunji, today it’s Daniel Ojukwu. Who’s next? 

A Useful Read on Nigeria’s rocky relationship with the press: Nigerian Journalists Are Still Endangered 36 Years After Dele Giwa.



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