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Press freedom groups call for release of jailed Nigerian journalist

Photo from the X account of Ojukwu Justin Daniel, also known as Daniel Ojukwu.
Photo from the X account of Ojukwu Justin Daniel, also known as Daniel Ojukwu.

A Nigerian investigative reporter has spent more than one week in police detention without being brought to court for allegedly violating the country's cybercrime laws, his employer said, in a case that press freedom groups have condemned as an affront to media freedoms.

Under Nigerian law, suspects must be brought to court within 48 hours of their arrest or be released.

Daniel Ojukwu went missing on May 1, according to his employer, the Foundation for Investigative Journalism. But the Nigerian news outlet was only informed about Ojukwu's arrest two days after police detained him.

The privately owned Foundation for Investigative Journalism said the reporter's arrest was linked to a November story about government corruption.

That story alleged that Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, senior special assistant to the president on sustainable development goals, put $106,154 of government money for school construction into a restaurant's bank account.

International press freedom groups have called for the journalist's immediate release.

"Nigerian authorities must promptly and unconditionally release journalist Daniel Ojukwu and stop harassing and detaining journalists who publish investigative reports into corruption," Angela Quintal, head of the Africa program at the Committee to Protect Journalists, or CPJ, said in a statement. "This is no way to treat journalists who are performing a public service."

Ojukwu had first been detained in Lagos but was later transferred to the capital, Abuja.

Nigeria's Washington Embassy did not immediately reply to VOA's email requesting comment.

Ojukwu's arrest comes not long after more than a dozen armed military men took another journalist, Segun Olatunji, from his home without any explanation in mid-March, according to press freedom groups. The Defense Intelligence Agency released Olatunji after two weeks.

Reporters Without Borders, or RSF, considers Nigeria among the most dangerous environments for journalists in West Africa. Earlier this month, RSF ranked Nigeria 112 out of 180 countries in terms of press freedom.

Some information in this report came from Reuters.

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