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Bola Tinubu

04.05.2024 Featured Bold Minister Said No Journalist ‘Has Been Put in Jail’ Under Tinubu. Here Are 11 Cases He Forgot

Published 4th May, 2024

By Opeyemi Lawal

In a surprising twist of events, Mohammed Idris, Nigeria’s Minister of Information and National Orientation, has said that no journalist in the country has been detained since his principal, Bola Tinubu, became president on May 29, 2023.

Idris said this on Friday at a press briefing organised by his ministry in partnership with the Federal Ministry of Environment and Ecological Management and the United Nations Educational and Scientific Organisation to commemorate 2024 World Press Freedom Day.

The minister further stated that Tinubu’s administration has provided the most enabling environment for journalists.

“I have not seen somebody in the life of this administration, for example, who has been put in jail, or who has gone into exile as a result of press freedom,” Idris said.

READ ALSO: Police Abduct FIJ Reporter Daniel Ojukwu ‘On IGP’s Orders’

“We knew what has happened in this country in the past. Some decades ago, we know that you have to leave this country to be able to report. I can tell you that the press in Nigeria is largely free but that freedom will further be consolidated if honesty and transparency are upheld in the manner that we report.

“As a ministry and government, we provided the most unfettered access to journalists and provided the enabling environment that has continued to encourage the Nigerian media to grow in leaps and bounds.”

FIJ highlights at least 11 Nigerian journalists who have been arrested and detained by state actors since Tinubu’s inauguration in May 2023.

DANIEL OJUKWU

The latest is the abduction of Daniel Ojukwu, an FIJ reporter, by the Intelligence Response Team (IRT) of the Inspector General of Police for violating the 2015 Cybercrime Act.

The police only revealed Ojukwu was held at the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID), Panti, Lagos, three days after he was reported missing.

The police stated that Ojukwu would be transferred to Abuja alongside others who are on the IG Monitoring Team’s watchlist.

SEGUN OLATUNJI

Segun Olatunji, the editor of FirstNews, was arrested in his home on March 15 by a combination of heavily armed military men, comprising the army, the air force, the strike force, the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) operatives and other officials in plain clothes.

Olatunji was subsequently detained in an underground military cell for 14 days over a story linking Femi Gbajabiamila, Chief of Staff (CoS) to the President of Nigeria, to a $30 billion loot.

He told FIJ that while he had yet to recover from the trauma of his abduction several weeks after his release, he still felt unsafe as the DIA placed him on their watchlist.

KASARACHI ANIAGOLU

Kasarahchi Aniagolu, a journalist with The Whistler Newspaper, was arrested and detained by the anti-violent crime unit of the police on February 21.

She was covering a report of a raid by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on bureau de change (BDC) operators in the Wuse Zone 4 area of Abuja.

The officers who arrested and detained her for eight hours confiscated her gadgets, physically assaulted her and said they would kill her and nothing would happen.

READ ALSO: There Are ‘2 Or 3 Weighty Allegations’ Against Soyombo, Says Police Spokesman

ACHADU GABRIEL

Achadu Gabriel, a reporter with Daybreak newspaper, was arrested on November 13, 2023, following a report that highlighted how pilgrims were being treated in the Kaduna Hajj Camp.

Gabriel was detained and arraigned on November 15 on charges bordering on defamation of character, intimidation and incitement of contempt for religion.

During his detention, he was kept in a facility managed by the special police unit known as Operation Yaki.

GODWIN TSA

Godwin Tsa is a journalist with the Sun Newspaper. He was physically assaulted, arrested and detained by the personnel of the Department of Development Control at the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) and the FCTA Task Force on the issuance of Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) while he was covering a peaceful protest.

This protest was carried out by mechanics and spare parts dealers in Abuja. Despite showing his staff identity card, the FCTA officials hit him and then drove him in a police Hilux pickup truck alongside some of the demonstrators to the Utako police station. At the station, he was confined to a cell typically reserved for criminals.

PRECIOUS EZE

Precious Eze, an online publisher and journalist, was arrested at his residence in Lagos by operatives of a special task force of the Nigerian police on December 12.

Eze was left incommunicado as the task force officials seized his phones and gadgets.

READ ALSO: Police Threaten FIJ’s BoT Chairman, Declare Soyombo Wanted

SALIHU AYATULLAHI & ADISA-JAJI AZEEZ

Salihu Ayatullahi, editor-in-chief, and Adisa-Jaji Azeez, managing editor of Informant247, were both arrested and detained by the Kwara State Police on February 6 for reports linking Engineer Abdul Jimoh Muhammed, Rector of Kwara State Polytechnic, to financial fraud.

They were accused of conspiracy and cyberstalking under Section 24(1)(b) of Nigeria’s Cybercrimes Act and defamation under Section 393 of the Penal Code Act.

Both men were subsequently granted bail, but their prosecution didn’t stop.

SAINT MIENPAMO

Saint Mienpamo was arrested and detained on the basis of cyberstalking for a report he published on September 8 and 9, 2023, about an incident where security guards allegedly killed a man outside the office of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) in Abuja.

He was arrested at the home of a friend he was visiting on October 10 and was held by the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) in Yenagoa before he was transferred to Abuja.

Following his conviction, he was detained in a correctional facility. Mienpamo is the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of NAIJA Live TV, an online broadcast news service based in Onitsha, Anambra State.

ABDULRASAQ BABATUNDE & LUKMAN BOLAKALE

Abdulrazaq Babatunde, publisher of Just Events Online and Lukman Bolakale, publisher of Satcom Media, were arrested on September 11 on the orders of some officials of the Kwara State Government.

The two men were arrested after receiving a phone call from the anti-kidnapping and anti-cultism unit of the Kwara State Police Command.

They spent 10 days in detention before their release by a Magistrate Court.

These arrests were in addition to the harassment, intimidation and threats journalists in the country have faced since May 2023.

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Published 4th May, 2024

By Opeyemi Lawal

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