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Coalition For Whistleblowers Protection and Press Freedom Condemns Unjust Detainment of ICIR News Editor Marcus Fatunmole

5th December 2023 — The Coalition for Whistleblowers Protection and Press Freedom (CWPPF) condemns the arbitrary and unjust detainment of Mr. Marcus Fatunmole, News Editor at the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR), on Monday, December 4, 2023.

Expressing deep concern over the harassment faced by Mr. Fatunmole while performing his duties at the Eagle Square car park, FCT Abuja, the CWPPF asserts that Mr. Fatunmole’s investigative reporting on controversial buses circulating on social media, claimed to be part of an FCT mass transportation scheme, was unjustly interrupted by security operatives.

Security operatives, including a police officer, Abuja Property Development Company (APDC), and a 360 TFA private security named Ibukun Akindele, unlawfully detained him, obstructing his right to freely exercise his duties as a journalist.

Despite presenting valid identification and confirmation from his editor, Mr. Fatunmole endured an unjust six-hour (9:00 am to 2:00 pm WAT) detainment at the Central Police Station, Federal Secretariat, Abuja, including an unnecessary demand for a letter of authorization.

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The seizure of his phone and intrusion into his Google account by Abuja Property Development Company (APDC)security officials further exacerbated the violation of his rights, including his right to privacy, expression, and the press.

We note that the detainment and harassment of Mr Fatunmole was unjust, unlawful and failed to comply with legal processes. There was no warrant of arrest, he committed no crime and yet was detained and subjected to long hours of interrogation by the police on the instruction of Ms Ibukun Akindele, who claims to 360 TFA private security.

The CWPPF utterly condemns this action by the security personnel and demands that all responsible parties be held accountable for violating Mr. Fatunmole’s rights. We urge the Nigeria Police Force to conduct a thorough investigation and ensure erring officers are held responsible for this transgression.

The group further calls for sensitization of security operatives, emphasizing the essential role of journalists. We call on stakeholders to collaborate in developing urgent measures to prevent further harassment and intimidation of journalists.

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“This is an instance of the daily hassle journalists practicing in Nigeria go through in the discharge of their work; at every level, we face harassment and intimidation from both official and nonofficial forces. There is a need for mass sensitization of the public on the work and role of journalists, as well as massive training and sensitization for the different cadres of security agents,” says Bamas Victoria, Editor, The ICIR.

Furthermore, the CWPPF urges ICIR to explore legal avenues to seek redress for the violation of Mr. Fatunmole’s rights.

Upon discovering that Ibukun Akindele, the TFA private security officer involved, is also a lawyer, the Coalition calls on the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to thoroughly investigate the matter and take appropriate actions against her for colluding with the police in violating the journalist’s rights.

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The Coalition for Whistleblowers Protection and Press Freedom stands against any form of harassment or intimidation aimed at stifling journalists’ freedom. This incident emphasizes the urgent need for comprehensive training and sensitization for security agents to uphold press freedom and protect journalists in the line of duty.

Signed

Busola Ajibola,

Deputy Director, Journalism, CJID

For:

CWPPF Members:

Premium Times

The Cable

Daily Trust Newspaper

International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR). Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ)

Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID),  African Centre for Media & Information Literacy (AFRICMIL) . Civic Media Lab

Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC)  International Press Centre (IPC) International Press Institute (IPI) Media Rights Agenda (MRA) Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ).  Paradigm Initiative.

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), HEDA Resources Centre

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