After 179 days in custody, Journalist Agba Jalingo, Publisher of Cross River Watch has finally been granted bail. Mr. Jalingo was first arrested on August 22, 2019, following a report he published on July 12, 2019, questioning the whereabouts of N500m approved for the establishment of Cross River State Microfinance Bank.
In the article, Jalingo said the micro-finance bank had been rendered non-functional as money earmarked to start its operation was not released. Before his arrest, the police invited him after receiving a petition by the bank stemming from his report but Jalingo had informed them that he was out of the state and the invitation was moved to August 26, 2019.
However, he was arrested by the police outside Cross River State four days before the scheduled date. Following his arrest in Lagos, he was blindfolded, tortured, and taken to Cross River State by the road where he was handcuffed to a refrigerator. Subsequently, Jalingo was transferred to a detention facility run by the anti-cult and anti-kidnapping police in Calabar, the capital of Cross River State, and held him there without charge.
In response to his arrest and ongoing detention, Jalingo sued the Nigerian Police, seeking damages of N150m, citing wrongful imprisonment and mistreatment, and demanding his immediate release.
On September 25, 2019, Mr. Jalingo was arraigned at Federal High Court 2 in Calabar after 34 days in custody. He was charged on counts bordering on “acts of treason, treasonable felony, and threatening through various publications on crossriverwatch.com and social media, using malicious publications, instigating the people of Nigeria to stage protest for the removal of the Governor of Cross River State of Nigeria from office without due process of law and thereby committed an offense punishable under Section 41 of the Criminal Code Act, Cap C38, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.”
After spending about five months in detention, Mr. Jalingo was granted release on Thursday, February 13.
Date of Occurrence
The Nigeria Police Force and Calabar State Government