Court orders police to produce detained journalist in court
Calabar High Court has ordered the police to produce Mr. Agba Jalingo, the online journalist who had been in police custody for the past two weeks, in court today.
The order was sequel to an application brought by counsel to the journalist, Atah Ochinke. Justice Franca Isoni, the vacation judge for the state, ruled yesterday that in compliance with the state’s law on criminal justice administration enacted in 2017 by Governor Ben Ayade, a suspect should be arraigned within 24 hours of his arrest or be granted bail while investigation is ongoing.
She also ordered the police to be served through substituted means since the bailiff had not been able to serve them with the charges, as Ochinke said the police had been evading service of charges and that the court order would enable him to send the charges through courier, which “they cannot reject or claim ignorance of.”
The matter was adjourned till today (September 4) for the police to produce Jalingo before the court.Meanwhile, the Association of Cross River Online Journalists (ACROJ) has condemned the unlawful detention of Jalingo for two weeks without trial.
Consequently, the association called for the immediate unconditional release of the Editor in Chief of CrossRiverWatch online.The chairman, Edem Darlington, stated yesterday, “We want to draw the attention of all Nigerians and indeed the whole world to the increasing hostility towards journalists and critics of government in Cross River State.
“Today, journalists and critics of government have become endangered. Cross River has taken a huge leap backwards in terms of the protection of journalists. The Commissioner of Police has continued to disregard the constitution via the unlawful detention of Mr. Jalingo.”
Jalingo was picked up and whisked away to Calabar on August 22 by men identified to be from the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (F-SARS), Lagos State. He has remained in police custody till press time without trial.