Journalist Fisayo Soyombo is being detained by the Nigerian police over an investigative report he published.
Soyombo, the founder of the Foundation for Investigative Journalism (FIJ), was detained on Monday, Dec. 13, when he honoured a police invitation at the Nigeria Police Force Headquarters in Abuja.
Soyombo had on November 23, 2021, received a text message from the security agency.
“This office is conducting an investigation in which your name and phone number featured, in view of this, you are to interview the Head, IGP Monitoring Unit on the 29th November 2021 by 1000hrs at 1st Floor, Force Hqtrs,” it read.
The journalist honoured the invitation today and discovered it was in connection to a story FIJ published in August 2021 on the award of contracts for police camps.
The story alleges that a Deputy Inspector General of Police, Joseph Egbunike, joined other police chiefs to approve more than N1bn for some police transit camp projects in Benue, Bauchi, Plateau, Katsina, and Kano states.
The facilities were meant to provide safe and comfortable accommodation for travelling officers.
However, Soyombo’s FIJ claimed that after a visit to the project locations, nothing or little had been done three years later.
”At the N245 million transit camp in Riyom, Plateau State, two uncompleted bungalows and a few mobile buildings on an expanse of land were found,” the report read.
Pro-Egbunike’s lawyers petitioned the Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali, over the story, demanding the “prosecution” of those behind the “defamation”.
The legal practitioners, led by Stefan Onome Okorodudu, claim to operate under “Concerned Lawyers in defence of the Nigeria Police and its officers”.
When Fisayo visited the Force Headquarters today to honour the invitation, he gave a Facebook update that reads: “I have just arrived at the Force Headquarters, Abuja, to honour an invitation from the Monitoring Unit of the Inspector General of Police. They say my “name and phone number featured in an investigation” they are conducting.
“The decision to come was straightforward: I am a law-abiding citizen who has committed no crime unless journalism is one. If there is no update on this handle by dusk, it means I have been unjustly detained.
“I will be surrendering my devices now. Any other update until my release will be provided by FIJ Nigeria.”