16/05/2024 – The Coalition for Whistleblowers Protection and Press Freedom (CWPPF) is deeply bothered by a letter sent to Nurudeen Yahaya Akewushola, a reporter of the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR), and its managing directors by the National Cybercrime Centre (NCC) of the Nigerian Police Force. 

According to the editor of the ICIR, Mrs Victoria Bamas in a phone conversation with the Centre for Journalism, Innovation and Development (CJID) and a press release by the organisation, the ICIR reporter and managing directors were being invited by the NCC of the Nigerian Police over a petition received following a report published by the organisation. 

The letter in which the police alleged the reporter of cyberstalking and defamation of character however neither states the report about which the petition was sent to the police nor did it state the name of the petitioner.

CWPPF notes with great concern the growing trend of weaponizing the cybercrime act 2015 by Nigerian Security agencies, especially the National Cybercrime Centre (NCC) of the Nigerian Police Force against journalists and media organisations who are simply doing their constitutional job of holding power to account through investigative reporting. 

It would be recalled that on the 15th of March, the (now former) editor of First News, Mr Segun Olatunji was reported to have been abducted from his home in Lagos by men of the Nigerian Army over an alleged violation of the cybercrime act. Olatunji whose whereabouts details were initially withheld, rendered incommunicado and kept in detention for 14 days would be eventually released under a bridge in Asokoro Abuja after the International Press Institute (IPI) revealed that he was being held by the Defence Intelligence Agency(DIA) of the Nigerian Army. 

Also, on the 23rd of March, the chairman of the Board of Trustees (BOT) of the Foundation for Investigative Journalism (FIJ), Mrs. Bukky Shonibare was invited by the National Cybercrime Centre of the Nigerian Police Force for a case being investigated by the NCC in connection with the FIJ. Upon honouring the invitation, Mrs Shonibare was reportedly subjected to interrogation for several hours and later asked to produce the founder of the FIJ, Mr. Fisayo Soyombo for undisclosed reasons. 

Furthermore, in a development similar to the experience of Mr. Segun Olatunji, on May 1, a reporter with the Foundation for Investigative Journalism (FIJ), Mr. Daniel Ojukwu was arbitrarily arrested by men of the Intelligence Response Team (IRT) of the Inspector General of Police over an allegation bordering on cybercrime. 

According to a report by FIJ, Upon his arrest, Ojukwu was detained at the State Crime Investigations Department (SCID) of the Lagos State Police Command for four days and subsequently flown to the National Cybercrime Centre of the police in Abuja. Ojukwu was rendered incommunicado by the police for the first 48 hours of his arrest, until his family got wind of his detention at the SCID, Panti, Lagos. He was held in detention for ten days before his eventual release following a protest by journalists and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs). 

This worrisome trend of using an abrogated provision of the cybercrime act 2015, to harass and subject journalists to undue torture for simply discharging their constitutional duties is totally unacceptable and stands condemned. 

The continued functionality of the Nigerian democracy is largely dependent on the freedom of the press and as such, the rights of journalists to perform their constitutional role of holding power to account through investigative reportage must be respected by the Nigerian state and its agents. 

We urge the National Security adviser, Mr Nuhu Ribadu, the Minister of Defence, Mr. Mohammed Badaru Abubakar and the Minister of Police affairs, Mr. Ibrahim Gaidam to immediately put an end to the abuse of the cybercrime act 2015 by all security agencies using the act to harass, intimidate and abuse the fundamental rights of journalists

Journalists must be allowed to do their job without any form of fear from any quarter. 

CWPPF Secretariat


CWPPF members

  1. Premium Times
  2. The Cable
  3. Daily Trust Newspaper
  4. International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR)
  5. Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ)
  6. Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID)
  7. African Centre for Media & Information Literacy (AFRICMIL)
  8. Civic Media Lab
  9. Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC)
  10. International Press Centre (IPC)
  11. International Press Institute (IPI)
  12. Media Rights Agenda (MRA)
  13. Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ)
  14. Paradigm Initiative
  15. Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP)
  16. HEDA Resources Centre
  17. WikkiTimes
  18. Global Rights
  19. Dataphyte Foundation
  20. Accountability Lab Nigeria
  21. DigiCivic Initiative
  22. Enough is Enough
  23. Public and Private Development Centre (PPDC)
  24. Nigeria Network of NGOs 
  25. Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC)