FIJ editor Damilola Ayeni regains freedom after nine days in detention

THE Editor of the Foundation for Investigative Journalism (FIJ) Damilola Ayeni has regained freedom from Benenise Police after spending nine days in detention while on his second part of his Nigerian-Benin Environmental Journalism report.

On Friday, September 8, Ayeni was released from captivity, a result of combined actions including persistent media pressure, the unceasing efforts of the Nigerian Embassy in Benin, and legal representation and advocacy efforts coordinated by the Foundation for Investigative Journalism (FIJ) and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

The ICIR reports that Beninese police arrested and detained the Editor of the Foundation for Investigative Journalism (FIJ) Damilola Ayeni, at the Commisseria Central, Parakou Police Station, in Parakou, Republic of Benin on September 6, 2023.

The report stated that FIJ received a distress text from Ayeni on Thursday, August 31, which was swiftly deleted a few moments after it was delivered through one of its communication channels. The message read, “I have been apprehended.”

Ayeni subsequently told his colleagues on a phone call that he was briefly held because the authorities stated that there were security concerns in the area.

Following his arrest and detainment, the FIJ’s Editor was moved to Cotonou, ahead of his arraignment to a court in Porto Novo. 



    According to a statement by the Coalition of Whistleblowers Protection and Press Freedom (CWPPF) on Friday, September 9, 2023, Ayeni will be arraigned in court for “terrorism.’

    Announcing his release in a report, FIJ mentioned that, Ayeni, as of the time filing the report, was being handed over to Nigerian authorities. Although, the report stated that he will remain in Benin Republic for a little longer.

    Also, confirming his arrest the FIJ founder and editor-in-chief, via his X (now Twitter) handle, posted: “Damilola Ayeni @AF_Damilola, editor of @fijnigeria, has regained freedom after combined efforts of sustained media pressure, relentless work by the Nigerian Embassy in Benin, and legal representation and advocacy efforts facilitated by FIJ and @CPJAfrica.”

    While he was in detention, The ICIR reported that several Nigerians and journalists expressed their dissatisfaction with the situation and demanded his immediate release.

    Usman Mustapha is a solution journalist with International Centre for Investigative Reporting. You can easily reach him via: [email protected]. He tweets @UsmanMustapha_M

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