The Country Officer and Head of the Nigeria Office of the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), Udo Jude Ilo, is currently being detained in Abuja, a security source has told PREMIUM TIMES.
Our source said Mr. Ilo is being held by the Federal Capital Territory Command of the State Security Service (SSS).
It is not exactly clear how the OSIWA official arrived the SSS facility in the Asokoro District of Abuja. Our security source said he responded to a summon. But another source claimed he was arrested and taken there.
But when contacted, Mr. Ilo’s driver said he dropped Mr. Ilo off at the facility at about 9:30 am. He said his boss told him he was responding to a summon by the SSS to attend a meeting over an urgent security matter concerning OSIWA.
Mr. Ilo’s offence remained unclear at this time but an OSIWA insider said his organisation had of late “received disturbing correspondences from the security intelligence service in Nigeria.”
“But I don’t know if this is why he is being detained,” the source said. “We didn’t see this coming.”
Staff in the Nigerian office of OSIWA in Abuja told PREMIUM TIMES they have no details on Mr. Ilo’s detention.
“All I know is that one security agency recently wrote to us asking for the names, nationalities, telephone numbers and contact addresses of all our staff in Nigeria,” one staff said, asking not to be named for fear of arrest by the authorities.
“The same agency later ordered us to submit all documents that authorise us to operate in Nigeria. Of course we complied, and it is curious that our colleague can be detained.”
Mr. Ilo’s lawyers, Chike Okafor, could not be reached on telephone. One of his associates said he had rushed to the SSS’ office to push for the OSIWA official’s release.
The SSS could not be reached for comments. It currently has no spokesperson to respond to media enquiries.
OSIWA is an advocacy and grant-making organisation that pushes for open societies, accountability and inclusive democratic governance. It is present in 10 African countries and is part of the larger Open Society Foundations founded by business magnate, George Soros, which is working to “build vibrant and tolerant democracies whose governments are accountable to their citizens.”
The organisation is doing extensive work in Nigeria to strengthen the capacity of the country’s civil society bodies to hold government, individuals and corporations accountable.