© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
Agba Jalingo freed after nearly six months of detention
AGBA Jalingo has finally regained his freedom after spending about six months in detention, over alleged treason against the federal government.
The publisher of the CrossRiverWatch, on August 22 was arrested by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigerian police at his Lagos residence.
His arrest, according to Jalingo was connected to a report by his newspaper, questioning the sum of N500 million allegedly awarded by the Cross River governor, Ben Ayade for the establishment of the state’s microfinance bank.
The bank, as of the time the report was filed had not commenced any financial activities, months after it was established, hence the need for the publication.
Following his arrest on August 22, the publisher was conveyed to Calabar on August 23, where his trial commenced. Jalingo, however, filed a suit against the police for his illegal arrest, demanding a fine of N150 million.
Unknown to him, he has been charged for his connection to RevolutionNow, allegedly targeted at ousting President Muhammadu Buhari.
Jalingo on this note filed an application for bail but was denied on October 4, 2019, on the grounds that the charges against him were grievous and had a connection to terrorism.
Since his incarceration in the Calabar Prison, various human rights groups had seamlessly clamoured for his freedom, describing his prosecution as “very unusual and controversial”. The Amnesty International would later declare him a ‘prisoner of conscience’.
In the course of his trial, Jalingo had demanded, in a fresh bail application that the presiding judge, Justice Simon Amobeda be changed and his case transferred, following a leaked recording insisting that Jalingo’s trial would go on regardless it is withdrawn or not by his counsel.
Amobeda was heard to have cited the case of Ken Saro-Wiwa, the environmental activist and Ogoni leader, who was executed by Sani Abacha-led military administration on November 10, 1995.
On that premise, Justice Sule Shuaibu of the Federal High Court, Calabar had taken over the case, thus, granting the publisher N10 million bail following an application from his counsel, Attah Ochinke.
In addition, the court asked that his sureties must make a refundable deposit of N700,000 to court registry to perfect the bail.
On his release on Monday, Nigerians have felicitated with the journalist, commending his resilience and patience throughout his trial.
I have just spoken with Agba Jalingo in Calabar, he is finally out of unjust incarceration after fulfilling the burdensome bail conditions imposed on him last week by a Federal High Court judge. Agba is in high spirits! Thanks to all our conscientious citizens who stood firm.
— Omoyele Sowore (@YeleSowore) February 17, 2020
Congratulations to Agba Jalingo for the release after six months in detention.
— Senator Shehu Sani (@ShehuSani) February 17, 2020
Free at last, free at last, thank God Agba Jalingo is free at last! 179 days incarceration couldn’t break his spirit. They humiliated him, chained him to fridge yet man was always smiling in the face of their intimidation and tyranny. #JalingoIsOut pic.twitter.com/t5ogfLMRcO
— 🇳🇬Your Weaponized Destiny Helper® (@AyanfeOfGod) February 17, 2020