‘Fisayo Soyombo, Founder of the Foundation for Investigative Journalism (FIJ), is currently being detained at the Force headquarters, Abuja, by the police.
Soyombo was on a long trip on November 23 when he received an SMS that read: “Good Afternoon sir, this office is conducting an investigation in which your name and phone number featured, in view of this, you are to interview the Head, IGP Monitoring Unit on the 29th November, 2021 by 1000hrs at 1st Floor, Force Hqtrs, Abuja. Thanks.“
Knowing he committed no offence, he honoured the police invitation on Monday, days after returning from the trip, only to discover it was in connection to a story exposing the award of transit police camp projects that do not exist to the tune of the contract sums.
Soyombo had on Monday morning dropped a post on his facebook wall, notifying members of the public about his movement and how he was invited to the Police Force Headquarters for questioning over an investigation the police is conducting.
His Facebook post 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.
Back in August, FIJ had reported how, in his former role as Commissioner of Police in charge of Budget and Finance at the Nigeria Police Force Headquarters, Joseph Egbunike, head of the police internal panel probing Abba Kyari’s indictment in a recent FBI report on fraud conspiracy, joined other police chiefs to approve more than N1billion for sham police transit camps project in Benue, Bauchi, Plateau, Katsina and Kano states. However, FIJ’s visit to the project locations revealed that nothing or little had been done — three years later.
On a visit to the over N245million transit camp in Riyom, Plateau State, for instance, FIJ found two uncompleted bungalows and a few mobile buildings on an expanse of land, with our real estate expert who examined the project reporting: “Look at that building in red roof, which happens to be a police station in the camp, with N9million or N10million, you can raise that building up to that level.”
FIJ understands that a group of lawyers petitioned Usman Alkali, the Inspector General of Police, over the story, asking for the “prosecution” of those behind it for defamation under the Penal Code.
The lawyers are led by one Stefan Onome Okorodudu and they claim 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”.
Meanwhile, the police have yet to offer any explanations on the use to which the transit camp funds were put, and why the structures in the five states do not represent anything close to the huge sums of money awarded for them.
UPDATE: ‘Fisayo Soyombo, the Editor-in-Chief and Founder of the Foundation for Investigative Journalism (FIJ), has just been released from detention at the Nigeria Police Force Headquarters in Abuja.
Soyombo, who arrived at the force headquarters around 11 am on Monday, was not released until 6:26 pm. He was detained on the orders of Usman Baba Alkali, the Inspector-General of Police (IGP).