The Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Center (RULAAC) alongside other human rights groups have vehemently condemned the arrest and detention of journalist- Mr. Agba Jalingo by the Cross River State government.
The groups registered their outrage in different press releases sent to Sunday Sun yesterday. According to RULAAC’s national coordinator, Mr. Okey Nwanguma, the arrest of Mr. Jalingo and the wanton arrests of even human rights activists is a clear indication that Nigeria’s leaders have become dictatorial in their approach to governance and have successfully steered the country into dangerous waters of autocracy. He decried Mr. Jalingo’s detention and called for his immediate release by the State government. “We are back to a dictatorship where police will arrest a journalist and detain him indefinitely, acting at the behest of a state governor who finds a report by the journalist unfavorable.
“At the prompting of the Cross Rivers State Governor, the Commissioner of Police, Cross River orders the arrest of Mr. Agba Jalingo, Editor in Chief and Publisher of Cross River Watch. Operatives of Intelligence Response Team (IRT), arrested him from his base in Lagos and took him to Calabar where he has since then been detained over a publication on Cross River State Micro Finance Bank which the State Governor found unfavorable. And since from 22nd August when he was arrested to date, its been over eight days that Mr. Jalingo was arrested and detained in Calabar.
“It is a gross violation of the Constitutional rights of Jalingo for the Police to detain him indefinitely, and beyond the legally permissible duration for detention, without charge. RULAAC condemns what appears to be an exhibition of intolerance for criticism and abuse of power by the Cross River State Governor. The police should not lend themselves to be used to harass and intimidate journalists or critics. The arrest and detention of Mr. Jalingo is an attack on press freedom and a violation of his rights to personal liberty, human dignity, and due process.”
In the same vein, the Network on Police Reforms in Nigeria, (NOPRIN) disclosed that Mr. Jalingo was picked up even before he was getting ready to honour the invite sent to him by security operatives.