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Damilola Ayeni

07.09.2023 Featured FIJ Editor Damilola Ayeni Moved to Cotonou Ahead of Arraignment for ‘Terrorism’

Published 7th Sep, 2023

By FIJ

Damilola Ayeni, the editor of the Foundation for Investigative Journalism and Social Justice (FIJ), is set to be arraigned on trumped-up terrorism charges in a court in Porto Novo, Benin Republic’s capital city.

This is after the Beninese police arrested Ayeni and detained him in Parakou, a northern Benin city, and labelled him a jihadist. The police kept Ayeni in detention and asked for an 800,000 CFA bribe even after realising he was a journalist.

Ayeni was on a trip to Benin for the second leg of fieldwork on a Nigeria-Benin environmental journalism report when the Beninese authorities arrested him.

READ MORE: Benin Republic Arrests FIJ Editor Damilola Ayeni, Labels Him A ‘Jihadist’

He was initially detained at the Commisseriat Central, Parakou Police Station, in Parakou, Republic of Benin, but he is currently held in Cotonou and will be transported to the court in Porto Novo, potentially on Friday.

“The court is in Porto Novo, the capital of our country. It’s about 45 minutes drive from Cotonou,” a source in Cotonou told FIJ. “We need people of influence on the diplomatic level. Even if there was no link to terrorism.”

READ MORE: BREAKING: Benin Republic Police Demand 800,000 CFA Bribe to Release FIJ Editor Damilola Ayeni

FIJ has since brought Ayeni’s detention to Nigeria’s foreign affairs ministry as well as the Nigerian Embassy in Cotonou, and is awaiting the result of diplomatic efforts.

Ayeni is not only FIJ’s editor, he is also an environment expert and activist.

He was on the longlist for the 2023 edition of the One World Media Awards’ International Journalist of the Year category. He was also shortlisted for the environment category of the 2021 Thomson Foundation Young Journalists (FPA) Award.

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Published 7th Sep, 2023

By FIJ

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