Nigerian military releases journalist after 14 days in detention

After spending 14 days in detention, the Nigerian military authorities,  on Thursday, March 28, 2024, released Segun Olatunji, the editor of FirstNews, an online news platform based in Lagos, South West Nigeria.

Olatunji, who had been whisked away from his home in Iyana Odo, Abule Egba area of Lagos, by armed men in military uniform on March 15, was blindfolded and flown into Abuja on a military aircraft.

The management of his media outlet linked the arrest to a series of accountability stories being published by FirstNews.

The first report is titled, ‘Revealed: Defence Chief running office like family business – Public Interest Lawyers.’ The second report, titled, “EXCLUSIVE: How contractor company stole N100bn, laundered funds for top govt officials – Investigation,’ was later pulled down by the newspaper.

When confronted by three journalists associations in Nigeria, the Chief of Defence Staff, Christopher Musa, a general, and the Chief of Defence Intelligence, Emmanuel Undiandeye, a Major General claimed that the journalist was not in their custody.

But after much pressure from the groups such as the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) and Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Olatunji was released in Abuja on Thursday.

Olatunji’s experience adds to the dozens of press attacks that Nigeria witnesses annually.

Speaking of the bitter experience, he said “My life is not safe because they (military) know my house. They had been trailing me three weeks before the arrest.”

“My life is no longer safe given the manner the soldiers tracked me from my village to Lagos before my abduction. I was with my seven-year-old son when the army broke into the house. They bundled me into their vehicle,” he narrated.

The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) condemns the manner in which Olatunji was arrested and kept incommunicado for two weeks, as it violates his fundamental human rights.

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