Nigerian journalist detained over a week under cybercrime law, employer says

ABUJA (Reuters) - A Nigerian investigative journalist has spent more than a week in police detention without being brought to court for allegedly violating the country's cybercrime laws, his employer said, in a case that has sparked criticism from media rights groups.

Under Nigerian law, suspects must be brought to court within 48 hours after arrest or be released.

Nigeria's Foundation for Investigative Journalism (FIJ) said its reporter, Daniel Ojukwu, went missing on May 1, but it was only informed two days later that he had been detained by police under the cybercrime law.

FIJ said Ojukwu's arrest was related to a November story that exposed government corruption.

Nigerian national police spokesperson Muyiwa Adejobi did not respond to several calls and messages on his phone.

Adejobi told reporters on Sunday that Ojukwu was arrested by the Nigeria Police National Cybercrime Centre based on a petition filed against him.

"The Nigerian Police Force has veered off course from its duty to uphold law and order to become an oppressive tool in stifling dissent and independent journalism," a statement by a group of 33 civil society organisations said this week.

The Committee to Protect Journalists demanded Ojukwu be released "promptly and unconditionally," adding that at least 25 Nigerian journalists had been charged under the cybercrime law since it was passed in 2015. Activists and pressure groups say the law is used by the government to silence journalism.

The 2024 World Press Freedom Index ranks Nigeria 112th out of 180 countries.

(Reporting by Ope Adetayo; Editing by Sharon Singleton)