Press Freedom Coalition Condemns DSS Harassment of IPC’s Executive Director, Seeks Thorough Investigation

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Mr. Lanre Arogundade, Executive Director, International Press Centre

The Coalition for Whistleblowers Protection and Press Freedom (CWPPF) has condemned in strong terms, the harassment of the Executive Director of the International Press Centre (IPC), Mr. Lanre Arogundade, following an attempt by officials of the Department of State Service (DSS) to prevent him from traveling out of the country on April 11, 2024 on his way to Berlin, Germany, to attend the General Meeting of the African Freedom of Expression Exchange (AFEX) as well as the General Meeting and convening of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX), which took place between April 13 and 16. The Coalition demanded a thorough investigation into the incident to forestall a future reoccurrence.

CWPPF noted through a press statement signed by Ms Busola Ajibola, Deputy Director, Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID) on behalf of the Coalition, that the unwarranted harassment of Mr. Arogundade by men of the DSS not only violates his fundamental human right but is also an attack on the freedom of the press.

The Coalition pointed out that journalists and human rights advocates deserve a free environment to operate without any fear of harassment and prejudice.

She said as a coalition, CWPPF believes such acts of intimidation and harassment have no place in a democracy and stand strongly condemned.

It joined IPC to call on the Director General of the DSS, Mr. Yusuf Bichi to remove Mr. Arogundade’s name from DSS watchlist as well as direct its officials at all Nigerian International Airports to desist from further harassing him or limiting his right to free movement.

A statement signed by IPC’s Press Freedom Officer, Ms Melody Akinjiyan, disclosed that Mr. Arogundade was accosted by the officers of the DSS at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) on April 11, 2024, while he was preparing to board a flight to Berlin, Germany to attend the general meetings and conferences of the African Freedom of Expression Exchange (AFEX) and the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX) respectively.

The statement added that Mr. Arogundade informed IPC’s management that the senior DSS official to whom he was referred threatened to bar him from travelling unless he produced his old passports.

Narrating his encounter in a Facebook post, Mr. Arogundade explained that the DSS officials harassed him for about 40 minutes because they claimed his name was still flashing on their watchlist despite the declaration two years ago by the Director General of the DSS, Mr. Yusuf Bichi, that his name had been removed when he met a delegation of the Nigerian chapter of the International Press Institute (IPI) led by Mr. Musikilu Mojeed.