Man threatens attack on journalist, Agba Jalingo over allegations of deforestation

A journalist in Cross River state, Agba Jalingo, has accused a member of the state anti-deforestation committee, Anthony Cyril Asuquo, of threatening to launch a violent attack on him. 

Jalingo told The ICIR that Asuquo threatened to punish him severely for investigating and revealing the “misconduct of government authorities” in the state and writing a negative statement about him. 

According to him, he (Asuquo) had promised to kill him within 30-60 days and end his work as a journalist in the state.

He said, “Asuquo said he would be carrying out a violent attack that would cause me to vomit from the nose and beg for mercy.

“He called me and threatened to kill me. He said he knew the address, my wife, and my daughters. He said I had crossed the line. But this will not stop me from doing my job.”

Jalingo, the publisher of Cross River Watch, a media organisation located in the state, had made a post on Tuesday, June 6 on his Facebook account accusing some members of the recently created Cross River state anti-deforestation committee of contributing to the illegal felling of trees in the state.

He described those he accused as some of the most notorious loggers in the state. 

In his post, Jalingo alleged, “Charles Ikpeme, Chairman of the Anti-Deforestation Committee, is a known illegal timber dealer. He operates in the Akamkpa forest.

“Pius Abang, Secretary of the Anti-Deforestation Committee, is also the Secretary of G7 Timber Association, a criminal illegal timber cartel. 

“Cyril Asuquo Anthony, member of the Anti-Deforestation Committee, is also an illegal timber dealer operating in Nyaghasang.”

The threat

Jalingo said Asuquo called him on Tuesday night, hurling insults at him and issuing threats. 

In an audio recording received by The ICIR, a voice Jalingo said was Asuquo’s vowed to track down the journalist’s location and brutalise him for working to hold the state government and other political office holders to account. 

“You have the right to go on social media to write something about me? Agba, Enough is enough, you can do this to other people, but the day I meet you, you will not know I will meet you. 

“Don’t worry, I have started asking about you, and I will get all the information I need about you. I know about you; I know where you live.

“You call me a thief? You call me a thief on social media? The day I see you, you go vomit from your nose. 

“Must you write everything? Must you write everything you see? I will stop you from writing on social media, don’t worry. I give you 60 days or 30 days, and you will receive the punishment. Let’s all watch out. 

“I’ll use koboko and flog you 20 times and you will beg,” he snarled. 

Unperturbed, Jalingo said the threats and attacks that journalists suffered in the state were as a result of  government bodies encouraging criminals.

    He called for more media organisations in the state, noting that political thugs, among others, were pushing against accountability. 

    “This is just their first layer of reaction. They are trying to push us back. If they succeed, they will continue, and if not, they will eventually find out that the pen is mightier than the sword.

    “There are occasions when I feel scared, particularly for my family. But what is dominating my heart is the feeling that nothing will happen,” he said.

    On June 11, The ICIR reached out to Cyril Anthony Asuquo to speak on the subject. However, he did not pick up his calls. Subsequently, text messages were sent but he also did not respond.

    Beloved John is an investigative reporter with International Centre for Investigative Reporting.

    You can reach her via: [email protected]

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