Journalism in the service of society

Soyombo freed after hours at Force headquarters

INVESTIGATIVE journalist, ‘Fisayo Soyombo, is free again after being detained at the Force Headquarters in Abuja on the order of IGP, Usman Akali.

The founder of the Foundation for Investigative Journalism, FIJ, was detained today when he honoured a police invitation.

It was also gathered that Soyombo’s detention was in connection with an investigative story published by his medium in August 2021 alleging that a Deputy Inspector General of Police, Joseph Egbunike, joined other police chiefs to approve more than N1b for some police transit camp projects in Benue, Bauchi, Plateau, Katsina and Kano states.

However, Soyombo’s FIJ reported that after a visit to the project locations, nothing or little had been done — three years later.

The news platform said Egbunike was in his former role as Commissioner of Police in charge of Budget and Finance at the Nigeria Police Force Headquarters when the approval for the sham projects was done.

Egbunike, now a DIG, headed the police internal panel that probed suspended Deputy Commissioner of Police Abba Kyari, who was recently indicted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for his alleged involvement in a $1.1m Internet scam said to have been carried out by an Instagram influencer, Abbas Ramon, popularly known as Hushpuppi and four others.

It was further gathered that Egbunike raised some lawyers who petitioned the IGP to prosecute the journalist for alleged defamation.

Upon his arrival at the Force Headquarters, the journalist, in a Facebook post, wrote, “I have just arrived at the Force Headquarters, Abuja, to honour an invitation from the Monitoring Unit of the Inspector General of Police. They say my ‘name and phone number featured in an investigation’ they are conducting.

“The decision to come was straightforward: I am a law-abiding citizen who has committed no crime unless journalism is one. If there is no update on this handle by dusk, it means I have been unjustly detained. I will be surrendering my devices now…”

But a statement published on Foundation for Investigative Journalism this evening confirmed his release.

“‘Fisayo Soyombo, the Editor-in-Chief and Founder of the Foundation for Investigative Journalism (FIJ), has just been released from detention at the Nigeria Police Force Headquarters in Abuja,” the statement said.

“Soyombo, who arrived at the force headquarters around 11 am on Monday, was not released until 6:26 pm. He was detained on the orders of Usman Baba Alkali, the Inspector-General of Police (IGP).

“Soyombo was invited for an interview for publishing a story that exposed the award of transit police camp projects that do not exist to the tune of the contract sums”.

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Naija Times