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ECOWAS Court orders Nigerian govt to pay detained Journalist over $73,000

The ECOWAS Court of Justice has ordered the Nigerian Government to pay a journalist, Agba Jalingo, N30 million (about $73,107)…

The ECOWAS Court of Justice has ordered the Nigerian Government to pay a journalist, Agba Jalingo, N30 million (about $73,107) as compensation for ill-treatment and torture while in detention in Cross River State in south-eastern Nigeria.In the judgment on Friday in Abuja, the court said that the journalist was arrested and chained to a deep freezer for about 34 days without being charged to court, brutalized and dehumanized.

“This action taken on Jalingo’s behalf by SERAP seeks from this court reparation for inhuman treatment and torture meted out to him. We have looked at the evidence before us. There was no answer as to the facts that Jalingo was arrested and illegally detained, brutalized and dehumanized,” the court ruled.

According to the court, the act violated the international human rights treaties, particularly the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to which Nigeria is a state party, adding that the “Nigerian government has flouted the provisions of these treaties on international fair trial standards.”

Reacting to the judgment, SERAP’s counsel, Mr, Femi Falana, said that the judgment could not have come at a more opportune time than now “in view of the ongoing brutalization of hapless Nigerian citizens by the police and other security agencies”.

“It is to be hoped that the Federal and state governments and all law enforcement agencies will study the terms of the judgment and desist from further infringing on the human rights of the Nigerian people, including criminal suspects who are presumed innocent until the contrary is proved by the State,” Falana said.

It will be recalled that on 22nd August 2019, the Nigeria Police, through its special anti-robbery squad arrested Agba Jalingo and on 23rd August 2019, Mr. Jalingo was transferred to a detention facility run by the anti-cult and anti-kidnapping police in Calabar, the capital of Nigeria’s southern Cross River state and was held there for days before his arraignment on 31st August, 2019.”

SERAP filled the suit against the Nigerian Federal Government and the Cross River State Government to the ECOWAS Court over the prolonged, arbitrary detention; unfair prosecution; persecution, and sham trial of Mr. Jalingo.

Jalingo, who is the publisher of CrossRiverWatch, was arrested over a report alleging that the cross River State governor, Mr. Ben Ayade diverted N500 million belonging to the state.

The court gave the order for compensation after hearing arguments from Solicitor to SERAP, Femi Falana and lawyers to the Nigerian government Abdulahi Abubakar and A. A. Nuhu.

The suit read in part that “the harassment, intimidation, unfair prosecution and arbitrary detention of Agba Jalingo simply for exercising his human rights violate Nigeria’s international human rights obligations, including under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to which the country is a state party.”

“The government of Nigeria and the Cross-River state government of governor Ben Ayade have via the charges of terrorism and treason and denial of bail to Agba Jalingo, violated and continued to breach his human rights.”

“SERAP contends that Agba Jalingo is being unfairly prosecuted because of his reporting in his online news outlet, Cross River Watch, which alleged that the Cross Rivers State Governor diverted the sum of N500 Million, belonging to the Cross-River Micro Finance Bank.”

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