My detention a manipulation, circumvention of justice system, says journalist Jalingo
Publisher of CrossRiverWatch, Agba Jalingo, has described his 179-day detention in prison by the Cross River State government as a “facade manipulation and circumvention of the country’s justice system.”
Jalingo who stated this yesterday in Calabar, Cross River State, however, expressed gratitude to all those who stood by him during travail, saying, “If you didn’t do what you did, I would have been kept longer in Afokang Prison in Calabar.
“Since August 22, 2019, a phenomenon hitherto unknown to the socio-political landscape of Cross River State gradually grew into what the whole world paused, reflected on and acted upon. The name Agba Jalingo became synonymous with a trend that has shaped democracies the world over and in particular, press freedom.”
Jalingo, who was freed on February 17, 2020 after Justice Sule Shuaibu granted him bail on February 13 said, “The last 179 days proved to be more dramatic and intense for me as it was a curve for learning, and painfully too, that the gains made since Nigeria’s return to democracy have been eroded in a manner too ridiculous to glorify.
“But, this is not to cast our minds back to that dark stain in our collective memories as it will be terrible to recall insults to our collective intelligence, the actions and inactions of those who we presumed leaders, but found out and regrettably so, were little aspiring napoleons who robed themselves as philosophical elites to rise to power.
“This message is to thank all who saw through the facade, manipulation and circumvention of our justice system and understood that we are being dragged into the abyss of a ‘banana republic’ after crawling away from it.”
He also expressed gratitude to God for coming out unhurt, adding, “There is no turning back in our mission to continue to ask government relevant questions. That is not contestable. That is the work we all have to do and that is what we will continue to do moving forward.
“I commend my colleagues in the media, not because they did more than the rest, but because they ceased the moment of my incarceration and further sent a clear message to power and might that we, as journalists, must be allowed to do our work without fetters.
“From all over Nigeria and across the world, I read and watched how the media rose up in unison to resist obtrusive encroachment into our space and I thought that was really worthwhile.
“Every free society has journalists and free press is embedded in the philosophy that classifies the media as the fourth estate of the realm. This is my pledge to fight to protect that, hold our leaders accountable and promote efforts that can grow our democracy and prevent this slide into anarchy occasioned by the actions of a privileged few.”