Nigerian Journalist Allegedly Under Threat Of Arrest For Exposé Of Police And Prison Corruption [Images]
Investigative journalist ‘Fisayo Soyombo is at risk of arrest for an undercover inquiry he conducted in July this year, that revealed corruption in Nigeria’s justice system — particularly among the police and prison service.
The Nigerian Guardian newspaper reports that Soyombo was “to be arrested at the venue” of a workshop where he was scheduled to speak on October 22 in Lagos, the economic capital of Nigeria. He got a tip-off about the impending arrest which made him withdraw from the event. Consequently, Soyombo has “has gone underground” after fleeing his residence on October 21.
Soyombo if arrested, will be charged under Section 29 of the Nigeria Correctional Service Act [Subsection 1 (d)] for possessing and using “communication devices” within the prison to record “conversation through a mobile phone or other devices” without authorization. If convicted, he risks a fine not exceeding 2 million naira [about US$5,500], two years imprisonment or both.
The intimidation of Soyombo exemplifies the precarious state of press freedom and free speech in Nigeria. From Jones Abiri to Omoyele Sowore to Agba Jalingo; the Nigerian government has flagrantly clamped down on journalists and dissenting voices.
The head of Nigeria’s Prison Service, Ja’afaru Ahmed has set up an investigative panel to “establish the authenticity” of Soyombo’s exposé, “and bring the culprits to book if found guilty of the allegations”. He also denied any plans of “arresting or harassing” Soyombo.