Detained journalist files fundamental rights enforcement application

CrossRiverWatch publisher and journalist, Agba Jalingo. [PHOTO CREDIT: Crossriverwatch.com]
CrossRiverWatch publisher and journalist, Agba Jalingo. [PHOTO CREDIT: Crossriverwatch.com]

The detained publisher of CrossRiverWatch, a Cross River State-based newspaper, has sued the Nigerian police over his arrest and detention since August 22.

Agba Jalingo is asking the court to order the police to pay him N150 million for his detention, which he described as illegal and a breach of his fundamental rights.

The police arrested Mr Jalingo at his Lagos residence on August 22 following an invitation on August 16 for questioning over a complaint filed by a state government-owned microfinance bank which Mr Jalingo said his newspaper had reported about.

CrossRiverWatch had reported that N500 million Governor Benedict Ayade allocated to the bank had been diverted.

The story did not include a response from the state government.

A spokesperson for the governor, Christian Ita, denied that Mr Jalingo was arrested over the report. Mr Ita told PREMIUM TIMES he read in the papers that Mr Jalingo was arrested in connection to the #RevolutionNow now protest.

Mr Ita, however, said he would not comment on the issues raised in the report by CrossRiverWatch because the matter had become a subject of investigation.

Speaking to PREMIUM TIMES before his arrest, Mr Jalingo said he had told the police that he would honour their invitation on August 26 when he hoped to have returned to Cross River State.

But on August 22, an editor with the paper, Jeremiah Achibong, told PREMIUM TIMES Mr Jalingo was arrested by officers attached to the Lagos State special anti-robbery squad in Lagos.

He was brought by road to Calabar on August 23.

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A lawyer representing Mr Jalingo, Attah Ochinke, said they expected Mr Jalingo to be charged to court on Monday and that the legal team would demand the enforcement of his fundamental rights if he was not charged by the police.

Copies of the application seen by PREMIUM TIMES indicate that the fundamental rights suit was filed on Tuesday, August 27

According to the application, Mr Jalingo is asking the court to restrain the state Police Commissioner, Austin Agbonlahor; the State command and a Deputy Commissioner of police, Evelyn Peterside, from further harassing arresting or detaining him without charge.

Ms Peterside was a signatory to the police invitation to Mr Jalingo on August 16.

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