Direct IGP to stop intimidating FIJ founder, SERAP urges Tinubu

SOCIO-ECONOMIC Rights Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Bola Tinubu to intervene in the intimidation of a journalist and founder of the Foundation for Investigative Journalism (FIJ) Fisayo Soyombo, by the Nigerian Police Force (NPF).

In a statement via the organisation’s official X handle on Friday, March 29, SERAP also demanded an end to the harassment of a member of FIJ’s Board of Trustees Bukky Shonibare and threatened legal action if the situation persists.

“We urge President Tinubu to immediately direct the Inspector-General of Police to stop harassing and intimidating journalist ‘Fisayo Soyombo simply for doing his job. The police have reportedly declared him wanted apparently to silence him.

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“Authorities must immediately stop harassing Soyombo and members of his Foundation for Investigative Journalism (FIJ) and allow him and his group to carry out their legitimate work. We’ll take appropriate legal action if the threat, harassment and intimidation of ‘Fisayo Soyombo and Bukky Shonibare are not immediately stopped,” the statement partly read.

On Tuesday, March 26, FIJ posted on X that Shonibare had been invited by the police for questioning on issues around cybercrime.

According to FIJ, the invitation might be in connection with an investigation on the role of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) in smuggling activities within the country.

By Friday, the media organisation reported that Shonibare visited the Nigeria Police Force National Cybercrime Centre (NPF-NCCC) and was interrogated on issues around FIJ’s operations.

Shonibare, who was accompanied by the FIJ’s legal counsel, said she was allowed to return home after making a statement but was asked to return to the police with Soyonbo.






     

     

    FIJ had published a report alleging that smugglers could bring in all sorts of goods into Nigeria as long as they bribe Customs officials.

    He alleged that officials of the NCS only publish names of smugglers who refuse to bribe them.

    The ICIR contacted the Federal Public Relations Officer (FPRO) on the issue, but he has yet to respond to a message sent to his phone number.

    Many journalists have been harassed, especially by state actors in Nigeria. The ICIR reported that at least 39 journalists were harassed by state and non-state actors in 2023 alone.

    Ijeoma Opara is a journalist with The ICIR. Reach her via [email protected] or @ije_le on Twitter.

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