Damilola Ayeni, the editor of the Foundation for Investigative Journalism (FIJ), has been reportedly detained by the police in Benin Republic.
Ayeni was arrested while on a trip to the country for the second session of a Nigeria-Benin environmental journalism report in the largest city in their northern region.
FIJ said it received a distress text from Ayeni but it was deleted within seconds of delivery on one of its communication channels. The text read: “I have just been arrested.”
No other message followed the text and Ayeni consequently told his colleagues on a phone call that he was briefly held because the Beninese police said that there were security concerns in the area.
FIJ later said the release-and-rearrest tactic is often used by Beninese police to keep their captives in the station without alerting their friends and relatives.
The investigative media organisation could not get in touch with Ayeni until the early hours of Tuesday, September 5, when a man who identified himself as the ‘Commissioner of the Central Police Station of Parakou in Benin’ said that the editor was being held at Commisseria Central, Parakou Police Station.
The Commissioner sent a text which read;
“Hello sir, I am the Commissioner of the Central Police Station of Parakou in Benin. Do you know Mr. Damilola of Nigerian nationality? He is arrested in Penjari [sic] Park in northern Benin for jihadist . He would be presented to the prosecutor and sent to prison. He risks 10 to 20 years in prison. What do you think of his situation, sir?”
FIJ is currently making efforts to establish physical contact with Ayeni in Parakou.