Coalition Expresses Concern over Unclear Invitation of ICIR Reporter, Managing Directors by NCC-NPF

Mr. Nurudeen Akewushola, a reporter for the International Centre for Investigative Reporting

The Coalition for Whistleblowers Protection and Press Freedom (CWPPF), a group of media and civil society organisations committed to upholding democracy and good governance by protecting the ethos of whistleblowing, freedom of expression and press freedom, has expressed concern over the recent summoning of Mr. Nurudeen Yahaya Akewushola, a reporter for the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR), and its managing directors by the National Cybercrime Centre of the Nigerian Police Force (NCC-NPF). The Police reportedly summoned the journalists following a petition over a report published by the ICIR.

The Coalition noted in a press statement that the NCC’s letter alleges cyberstalking and defamation but fails to specify the report in question or identify the petitioner.

CWPPF highlighted a disturbing trend of the weaponisation of the Cybercrime Act, 2015 by Nigerian security agencies, including the NCC-NPF, to intimidate journalists and media organizations who are doing their constitutional job of holding power to account through investigative reporting.

The coalition cited recent incidents where security agencies have abused the Cyber Crime Act and prevented journalists from carrying out their duties, such as the abduction and detention of Segun Olatunji, former FirstNews editor; the arbitrary arrest of Daniel Ojukwu, a reporter with the Foundation for Investigative Journalism (FIJ); and the police summoning and interrogation of Bukky Shonibare, Chairman, Board of Trustees of FIJ.

The Coalition condemned these actions of using an abrogated provision of the cybercrime act 2015, to harass and subject journalists to undue torture for simply discharging their constitutional duties.

It called 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.

It noted that journalists must be able to perform their duties without fear of intimidation or reprisal.