The Nigeria Police on Monday in Abuja released investigative journalist and founder of the Foundation for Investigative Journalism, Fisayo Soyombo, after more than nine hours of grilling.
Soyombo, who arrived at the Force Headquarters in Abuja around 11am on Monday, was not released until around 6.30pm.
The journalist was detained on the orders of the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, after accepting an invitation from the IGP’s Office.
According to the FIJ, the reporter was on a long trip on November 23 when he received an SMS inviting him to the force headquarters.
Soyombo honoured the police invitation on Monday only to discover that it was in connection to a story exposing the award of transit police camp projects that do not exist.
Early on Monday, Soyombo shared a thread on his Twitter handle, notifying the public of his location and how he was honouring a police invitation at the Force Headquarters over an ongoing investigation.
His tweets read, “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. Any other update until my release will be provided by FIJ Nigeria.”
In August, Soyombo’s FIJ had reported how, in his former role as Commissioner of Police in charge of Budget and Finance at the Nigeria Police Force Headquarters, head of the police internal panel probing Abba Kyari’s indictment in a recent FBI report on fraud conspiracy, Joseph Egbunike, joined other police chiefs to approve over N1bn for sham police transit camps project in Benue, Bauchi, Plateau, Katsina and Kano states.
However, FIJ’s visit to the project locations revealed that, three years later, little or nothing had been done there.
Following this, a group of lawyers petitioned the IGP over the story, asking for the “prosecution” of those behind it for defamation under the Penal Code.
The lawyers, led by one Stefan Okorodudu, claimed to operate under a joint mandate as “Concerned Lawyers in defence of the Nigeria Police and its officers from the peddling and publication of falsehood.”
Attempts to get a reaction from the police proved abortive as the Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba, did not respond to calls.