ICYMI

May 28, 2024

ICIR director, reporter, lawyers detained by Police

ICIR director, reporter, lawyers detained by Police

Dayo Aiyetan a

The International Centre for Investigative Reporting, ICIR, Executive Director, reporter, and lawyers are being detained by the Nigeria Police Force National Cybercrime Centre.

They had honoured an invitation hours ago.

ICIR, in a statement, expressed concern that the continuous detention of its Executive Director, Dayo Aiyetan, and reporter, Nurudeen Akewushola, “who today went to the Nigeria Police Force National Cybercrime Centre (NPF-NCC) following the invitation from the Centre.”

The statement read: “Aiyetan and Akewushola accompanied by the company’s lawyers had gone to the Centre since noon today, May 28.

“And they have been unreachable including the lawyers.

“The ICIR was, however, able to gather that there is likely a sinister move by the Centre to detain both Aiyetan and Akewushola.”

Dayo Aiyetan and Nurudeen Akewushola

… earlier

Recall that on May 15, the ICIR received letters of invitation addressed to one of its reporters, Akewushola, and another to its “Managing Directors” by the Nigeria Police Force National Cybercrime Centre.

The letters, dated April 16, 2024, was delivered at the ICIR’s office on Wednesday, May 15, 2024.

However, the Police in the letter signed by a Commissioner of Police, Uche Ifeanyi Henry, the Centre’s Director, requested that the reporter and directors appear at its Abuja offices on Wednesday, April 24.

Invitation

The letter read in part: “The Nigeria Police Force National Cybercrime Centre is investigating a case of cyberstalking and defamation of character in which the above-named person featured prominently.

“In view of the above, you are requested to interview the Director of the Nigeria Police Force National Cybercrime Centre (NPF-NCCC) at Plot 625 Mission Road, Diplomatic Zone, Central Business District, Abuja through CSP Omaka Udodinma Chukwu on Wednesday 24th April 2024. Call 08067854241 on your arrival.

“Your cooperation in this regard will be highly appreciated, please.”

ICIR responds

In its response to the first invitation, the ICIR raised some concerns to the police. They include the disparity in invitation and delivery dates, and the lack of details of the petition.

Also, the ICIR requested that details of the petition be provided so that it could adequately prepare for the police interview.

2nd invitation

Following the ICIR’s reply, the NPF-NCC sent another set of invitation letters, dated May 20, 2024.

Two copies of the letters were addressed separately to the reporter and the “managing director,” the discrepancy in the dates was adjusted but details of the allegations against the centre and its reporter were not provided.

They read in part: “The Nigeria Police Force National Cybercrime Centre is investigating a case of cyberstalking and defamation of character reported to the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Force Criminal Investigation Department, Area 10 Abuja, in which your presence is needed.

“In view of the above, you are kindly requested to interview the Director, Nigeria Police Force National Cybercrime Center (NPF-NCC) Plot 625 Mission Road, Diplomatic Zone Central Business District, Abuja, through CSP Omaka Udodinma Chukwu on Monday 27 May, 2024 by 10:00hrs. It is a fact-finding invitation.”

The date and time were eventually changed to May 28, 12 noon following a conversation between the ICIR lawyers and the Police.

Honouring the Police invitation today

Today, at the stipulated time, the ICIR staff and lawyers went to the address stated in the NPF-NCC letters about seven hours ago.

Expressing concern, the ICIR said: “We are worried that this could be a ploy by the Police to detain them, despite the fact that the NPF-NCC stated in its letter that ‘it is a fact-finding invitation’.”

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