Amnesty International accuses Cross River, FG of conspiracy against Jalingo
Says state hostile for journalism practice
Amnesty International Nigeria (AIN) has accused Cross River State and the Federal Government of collaborating to manipulate the criminal justice system to unlawfully keep Agba Jalingo behind bars.
The organisation, which on November 20, 2019, declared Jalingo, alongside other activists, as “prisoner of conscience”, stated this yesterday during a press briefing in Calabar, Cross River State.
The media officer, Isa Sanusi, who described the state as hostile to journalists, said it violates the country’s constitution on press freedom.
Defining the charges against Jalingo as flawed, he said Jalingo was denied bail twice, as three additional charges of terrorism and cybercrimes were added.
Sanusi explained, “We are concerned that Agba Jalingo’s trial falls short of international standards of fairness, especially because the court has allowed witnesses to be masked and the trial to be held in secret. The flawed charge and sham trial of Jalingo have exposed the inadequacies and manipulation of the Nigerian criminal justice system and an unacceptable contempt for human rights and the rule of law.
“Jalingo is facing terrorism charges because of his alleged involvement in protest movement led by a journalist, Omoyele Sowore. Going by these charges, if convicted, he could face up to life imprison or death penalty.“While Jalingo is detained for his critical opinions, Cross River and federal governments are collaborating, through the manipulation of the criminal justice system, to keep him behind bars.”
Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River and President Muhammadu Buhari, he added, must stop filing bogus and politically-motivated charges against critics and start listening to what they have to say.
Appealing for Jalingo’s immediate and unconditional release, the organisation said his case and that of Joseph Odok, who was recently released, were just few of many cases of blatant violations of the right to freedom of expression and media in the country.
Sanusi added, “Amnesty International will continue to push for Jalingo’s immediate and unconditional release and work with other non-governmental organisations to hold the Cross River authorities to account for the increasing assault on human rights.”Ayade, while briefing State House press recently, had accused Jalingo of blackmail, but few days later retracted and apologised, as he claimed to have got his facts wrongly.