IGP Egbetokun; An Advocate Of A Free Press And Public Participation By Adewole Kehinde


"When we lose the right to be different, we lose the privilege to be free." -Charles Evans Hughes 

Press freedom is an essential aspect of any democratic society, as it enables journalists to operate independently, report on issues of public interest, and hold those in power accountable. In Nigeria, press freedom is guaranteed by the constitution, but media practitioners often face challenges such as harassment, intimidation, and censorship from government authorities and security agencies, including the police.

The role of the Nigeria Police in relation to press freedom is to protect and uphold the rights of journalists to work freely and without fear of reprisal.

On May 1, 2024, Daniel Ojukwu, a journalist with the Foundation for Investigative Journalism, was arrested by the State Criminal Investigation Department, Panti, Lagos State, for violating the 2015 Cybercrime Act.

Some media outlets reported that the Inspector-General of Police, IGP Kayode Egbetokun, was behind the arrest of Daniel Ojukwu.

Egbetokun is a media-friendly Inspector General of Police and can never have any hand in the detention of Daniel Ojukwu.

As a Ph.D. holder, Egbetokun will never attack press freedom, nor will he abuse due process or the rule of law.

In fact, during his meeting with police legal officers on Thursday at the Force Headquarters, the IGP emphasised his administration’s policy to bequeath to Nigerians a police force that is rule of law compliant.

The IGP reiterated the critical role of police legal prosecutors and advisors in ensuring adherence to legal procedures, ethical standards, and human rights principles in all policing operations.

He is an IGP who believes so much in a free press and public participation, which are fundamental pillars of our democracy. He will never undermine the provisions of Sections 22 and 39 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), which guarantee freedom of the press and freedom of expression, respectively.

With the above emphasis on the person of the IGP, that doesn't mean that journalists who commit offences won't be arrested and prosecuted like any other citizen of the country, as they are not exempt from arrest and prosecution if they go against the law of the land.

In the case of Daniel Ojukwu, I am aware that the police obtained a remand order aimed at committing a suspect into custody upon the establishment of a probable cause linking the suspect to the alleged offence.

The police under IGP Egbetokun have been reliable in ensuring that journalists are able to carry out their duties without interference, harassment, or violence.

He has continued to investigate any attacks or threats against journalists and hold perpetrators accountable.

IGP Egbetokun understands and respects the vital role that a free press plays in a democratic society through building a positive relationship with the media aimed at fostering mutual understanding and cooperation, leading to better coverage of law enforcement activities and increased transparency in the criminal justice system.

On a final note, the IGP is a man who understands that a free and independent press is crucial for the functioning of a vibrant democracy, and the Nigeria Police will continue to play a supportive role in ensuring that journalists are able to do their work without fear or hindrance.

Adewole Kehinde is the publisher of Swift Reporters and can be reached at 08166240846. E-mail: kennyadewole@gmail.com

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