2023 GovSpend Media Fellows demand release of FIJ journalist Daniel Ojukwu

 2023 GovSpend Media Fellows demand release of FIJ journalist Daniel Ojukwu

The 2023 GovSpend Media Fellowship has issued a fervent plea for the immediate release of Daniel Ojukwu, an investigative journalist with the Foundation for Investigative Journalism (FIJ), who was reportedly abducted by the Intelligence Response Team of the Inspector General of Police (IGP).

In a statement signed by his colleagues, demands for immediate release of Ojukwu from police detention. 

The sudden disappearance of Ojukwu on May 1, 2024, sent shockwaves through his family, friends, and the journalistic community, with concerns amplified over his whereabouts and well-being.

The statement denounces the alleged actions of the Intelligence Response Team, accusing them of unlawfully detaining Ojukwu and depriving him of essential rights, including access to legal representation and communication. Such conduct, it asserts, flagrantly violates fundamental human rights enshrined in international declarations and the Nigerian Constitution.

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The timing of Ojukwu’s disappearance, the statement notes, is particularly troubling, occurring in the wake of World Press Freedom Day and casting a shadow over the purported commitment to press freedom under President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration.

Ojukwu’s investigative endeavors, celebrated for their role in uncovering corruption at various levels of government, are highlighted as crucial contributions to promoting transparency and accountability in public expenditure. 

The GovSpend Media Fellowship, a BudgIT initiative aimed at fostering transparency in government spending, stands in solidarity with Ojukwu and condemns any actions aimed at stifling journalistic integrity.

Evidence suggests that Ojukwu’s abduction is linked to his recent investigative report conducted under the GovSpend Media Fellowship. The report, part of a collaborative effort by 12 other fellows, exposed irregularities in government spending and violations of procurement laws in federal projects across Lagos and Ogun States.

Specifically, Ojukwu’s analysis of data from the National Open Treasury Portal unveiled discrepancies in the conduct of the office of Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, Senior Assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals (SSAP-SDGs).

Furthermore, reports indicate that Muiz Banire, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and former National Legal Adviser of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC), may have played a role in Ojukwu’s abduction by submitting a petition to the Nigerian Police Force.

The statement concludes with a direct appeal to President Tinubu to intervene immediately, urging the Inspector General of Police to facilitate Ojukwu’s prompt release. 

It also calls for an end to unconstitutional actions targeting journalists and whistleblowers, emphasizing the importance of upholding press freedom and human rights in Nigeria.

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