Outrage over alleged plot to arrest undercover journalist

Prisons service condemns report as tissue of lies • Identify security operatives trailing you, police tell Soyombo • NUJ, editor’s guild, others caution govt, urge probity.

Nigerians yesterday condemned an alleged plot by security operatives to seize investigative journalist, Fisayo Soyombo.

The reporter, whose undercover stories exposed corruption in Nigerian police cells and prisons, has since gone into hiding. The “threat is real,” he told The Guardian, noting, however, that he is “safe and calm.”

The first instalment of the three-part investigation by Soyombo, a former editor of The Cable and a contributor to Al Jazeera, detailed how policemen “pervert the course of justice in their quest for ill gotten money”.

In the second part published on Monday by The Cable, he exposed “how the courts shortchange the law and (how) the prisons are themselves a cesspool of the exact reasons for which they hold inmates.”
The final part of the report is yet to be published.

During the investigation, Soyombo had taken the alias ‘Ojo Olajumoke’, spent five days in a cell at Pedro Police Station, Shomolu, Lagos, and eight days in Ikoyi prison.

His report is backed with audio, pictorial and video evidence of alleged corruption in the country’s judicial system.

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The Guardian learned that the second part of Soyombo’s story irked prison authorities, especially the comptroller-general.

A security source told The Guardian yesterday morning that Soyombo, scheduled to speak at a workshop on fake news organised by Goethe Institute the same day, was to be arrested at the venue. He has since pulled out of the event.

“Prisons authorities are very angry and have decided to get the journalist arrested,” the source said, adding: “He is to be charged to court and prosecuted under Section 29 of the Nigeria Correctional Service Act.”

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