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Prison Service Denies Plans To Arrest journalist, probes corruption allegations

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THE Comptroller General of the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS), Ja’afaru Ahmed, has denied that the Service plans to arrest Fisayo Soyombo, the investigative journalist who wrote an explosive undercover report on corruption in Ikoyi Prisons.

Rather, he said he had set up a panel to investigate the allegations contained in the investigative report, which alleged deep-seated corruption in the prison service.

Following the publication of the report, the second in a three-part series, which exposed the rot in the prison system, speculations were rife on Tuesday that the Service planned to arrest the journalist and charge him for espionage.

But, in a press statement released on Tuesday evening and signed by O.F. Enobore, Public relations Officer of the Service, Ahmed said that the agency never planned to arrest the journalist.

The Prison boss said in the statement that “the Service has no intention of arresting or harassing the journalist over his alleged findings.”

Rather, he observed that “investigative journalists are partners, who seek the development of the nation, and called for more of such findings aimed at reforming the institution for better service delivery.”

He stated further that the Service sees investigative journalists are partners, who seek the development of the nation and welcomed more such critical reports “aimed at reforming the institution for better service delivery.”

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Ahmed also called for more constructive engagement with the media and the general public in order to strengthen the implementation of the Nigerian Correctional Service Act, 2019.

The investigative report, the second in a three-part series, which exposed corruption in the justice sector, spanning the police, courts and prisons, was published on Monday by TheCable and The ICIR, as well as other notable newspapers in Nigeria.

The statement said the CG on Tuesday “set up a high powered panel to immediately commence full investigations into the matter in order to establish the authenticity of the report, identify and bring the culprits to book if found guilty of the allegations.”

It added that the Service was ready to work with Nigerians to “actualize the policy objectives of transforming the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCos) into a modern reformatory institution that operates in line with best international practices.”

Last week, following the publication of the first part of the undercover report the Nigerian Police Force commenced an investigation into the alleged #PoliceBailForSale which occurred at Pedro Police station in Shomolu, Lagos state.

With the publication of the second part of the report,  public criticism has raised more outcry on the unruly and corrupt activities of prison officers and how the “court short-change the law, and the prisons are themselves a cesspool of the exact reasons for which they hold inmates.”

Speculations were rife on Tuesday that the prison authorities were angered by the report and planned to arrest the journalist. This generated a massive public condemnation both on social media with the hashtag #KEEPFISAYOSAFE trending on Twitter and Facebook.

The third and final part of the three – part undercover report is scheduled to be published on Wednesday.

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