Dele Giwa, the co founder of Newswatch, was in his home on the 19th of October, 1986, when a package was delivered to his guard. A month earlier, he had be invited to the then just-created State Security Services (SSS) office, after writing a story where he stated that if the newly-introduced Second-Tier Foreign Exchange Market (SFEM) failed, Nigerians would take to the streets to stone their leaders. What happened after Giwa opened the package is common knowledge: it blew up in his face. He died.
33 years later, and although Nigerian journalists aren’t dying from letter bombs, not much has changed for them. So many today are either confirmed or suspected to be behind bars for criticising the government, including Stephen Kefas, Abubakar Idris (popularly known as Dadiyata), and Agba Jalingo.
Fisayo Soyombo, an investigative journalist, dug deep to expose the rot and corruption both in the Nigeria Police Force and the Nigerian Prisons Service, spending days both in detention and in prison for his work, the second part of which was released on Monday. On Tuesday morning, news began trickling in that Fisayo had been threatened with arrests, and Nigerians are simply not having it. Not anymore.
The hashtags #JournalismIsNotACrime and #KeepFisayoSafe are currently trending on Twitter, with journalists decrying how their very necessary job has become a danger. It says a lot about the society we live in, they say, and where it’s going to, if the truth is always met with violence.
Jalingo, in handcuffs, is seen wearing a shirt that says “Every free society has a journalist.” We’ll go further to say every society, especially dysfunctional ones, needs a journalist. We need people who will always speak truth to power. Without it, there’s no moving forward as a people.
Someone goes undercover, exposes a rot, and the next logical reaction is to find him and teach him a lesson. Is this how to go forward? @fisayosoyombo should not be hiding for his life but is now having to because of credible threats. #journalismisnotacrime #keepFisayosafe
— Lolade Nwanze (@LoladeSowoolu) October 22, 2019
— Mercy (@AbangMercy) October 22, 2019
In #Nigeria the crime is in exposing the crime, not committing the crime.
— Chxta (@Chxta) October 22, 2019
Dele Giwa, 33 years after he was assassinated with the lethal weapon of a letter-bomb, apparently by a brutal regime, justice has not been served, and journalists all over Nigeria still feel unsafe and threatened with a similar fate for doing their job. #JournalismIsNotACrime pic.twitter.com/rdxtB9TZ4w
— Ahmad Salkida (@A_Salkida) October 19, 2019
— Nigerian Ambassador (@CallmeKayoo) October 22, 2019
When I remember what Agba Jalingo is going through for exposing the corrupt practices of a sitting governor, I weep for this nation.
— SF Adébáyọ̀ (@sf_adebayo) October 22, 2019
For this undercover investigation ?? Nigerian investigative Journalist, @fisayosoyombo, scheduled to speak at a workshop today, is to be arrested at the venue of the event, according @GuardianNigeria.
— iamOdino (@TweetNaijaBlog) October 22, 2019
Shame! Shame!! Shame!!! On this military junta parading as a democracy. Their biggest problem is not the rot but the fact that it was exposed. Unfortunately for you guys, we are not about to stop until you guys do something! #journalismisnotacrime @ICFJ @globalfreemedia https://t.co/YYb0BYmfFK
— Fadipe Olamide (@FadipeOlamide4) October 22, 2019
Nigeria needs to stop her constant muzzling of the press! YOU CAN NOT SILENCE THE MEDIA!
We ask that our journalists go above and beyond to cover the news, and when they do they're targeted and victimised!
It is our collective DUTY to #KeepFisayoSafe
— Kiki Mordi (@kikimordi) October 22, 2019
When Nigerian journalists go undercover, they end up with their lives endangered. We should be enraged about the decay in the prison system in Nigeria, instead we are faced with possible threats to Fisayo’s life. #KeepFisayoSafe
Cc @AmnestyNigeria @KadariaAhmed pic.twitter.com/wGivgcWye2
— Ndi Kato (@YarKafanchan) October 22, 2019
The Criminal Justice System is rotten. This is no news to Nigerians and the authorities themselves and the reaction to findings of investigative journalists as well as advocates of reforms must never be belligerent. The Nigeria Correctional Service must get this! #KeepFisayoSafe
— SEGA L'éveilleur®? (@segalink) October 22, 2019
According to information received, the personal safety of the investigative journalist, @fisayosoyombo may be under threat.
We urge the @NigeriaGov to guarantee his safety.#PressFreedom#KeepFisayoSafe#CashAnCarry pic.twitter.com/QeQC3gMaZD
— EiE Nigeria (@EiENigeria) October 22, 2019
You cannot claim to fight corruption, yet turn around to witchhunt a journalist who went undercover (at risk to his own life) to expose the biggest corruption racket within your own law enforcement agency. It shows your corruption fight is nothing but a fraud! #keepfisayosafe
— Ayò Bánkólé (@AyoBankole) October 22, 2019