The Coalition of Whistleblowers Protection and Press Freedom (CWPPF), Wednesday, called for the release of Nigerian journalist arrested in Benin Republic.
Damilola Ayeni, a Nigerian journalist and editor of the Foundation for Investigative Journalism (FIJ), is being detained at the Commisseriat Central, Parakou Police Station, in Parakou, Republic of Benin, by the Beninese police. He was arrested on 31 August 2023, and labelled a jihadist, risking 10 to 20 years in prison.
CWPPF, in a release, said, “The accusation of Mr Ayeni being involved in jihadist activities lacks credible evidence and appears to be politically motivated, raising concerns about the misuse of anti-terrorism laws to suppress free speech and dissent in the subregion. His arrest without due process also violates internationally recognized human rights standards, including the right to a fair trial and the right to freedom of expression.
“This act by the Beninese police has raised serious concerns about the state of press freedom and human rights in Benin Republic, as well as the broader implications for journalists working across the region.
“The coalition hereby condemns the unjust arrest of Damilola Ayeni and calls on the government of the Republic of Benin and the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to take immediate action to rectify this situation, thereby upholding the principles of justice, rule of law and respect for human rights.
“We stand united in demanding the immediate release of Mr Ayeni, and the dropping of all unfounded charges. Diplomatic efforts, media campaigns, and advocacy will continue until justice is served.”
The CWPPF is a group of media and civil society organisations committed to upholding good governance and democracy by protecting the ethos of whistleblowing, freedom of expression and press freedom.