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Agba Jalingo: ECOWAS court awards N30m damages against FG

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Agba Jalingo

The ECOWAS Court of Justice in Abuja has “ordered the Federal Government to pay a journalist, Agba Jalingo, N30 million as compensation for ill-treating and torturing him while in detention in Cross River state.

Delivering judgment in the suit, yesterday, the court held: “Agba Jalingo was arrested and chained to a deep freezer for about 34 days without being charged to court, brutalised and dehumanised. 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 fact that Jalingo was arrested and illegally detained, brutalised and dehumanised.

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“This is against international human rights treaties, particularly the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to which Nigeria is a state party. The Nigerian government has flouted the provisions of these treaties on international fair trial standards.

“For these reasons, on the claims of compensation for ill-treatment and torture, SERAP has been able to establish the claims. We condemn the Nigerian government for these acts, and hereby award compensation of N30 million to Mr. Jalingo for violations of his human rights. The Nigerian government must comply with the order of the court within three months, and file a process to this court to this effect.”

Reacting to the judgment, Femi Falana (SAN), said: “In view of the ongoing brutalisation of hapless Nigerian citizens by the police and other security agencies, this judgment could not have come at a more opportune time than now.

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“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.”

The judgment followed the suit filed by SERAP against the federal and Cross River State governments at the ECOWAS Court over the prolonged, arbitrary detention, unfair prosecution, persecution and sham trial of Jalingo.

Jalingo, who is the publisher of CrossRiverWatch, was arrested on August 22 over a report alleging that Cross River State Governor, Ben Ayade, diverted N500 million belonging to the state.

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

SERAP’s Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, disclosed this development yesterday.

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