The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has brought the Nigerian government and Cross River state governor Ben Ayade to the ECOWAS Court of Justice in Abuja “persistent arbitrariness; unfair persecution; persecution and mock trial against journalist Agba Jalingo.”
Jalingo, the editor of CrossRiverWatch, was arrested on August 22 in a report alleging that Mr. Ayade had embezzled 500 million state-owned Naira.
In last week’s trial number ECW / CCJ / APP / 10/2020 filed with the ECOWAS court, SERAP claims: “The only target of the Government of Nigeria and the government of the State of Cross River, Governor Ben Ayade, is to keep Agba Jalingo in arbitrary detention forever and silence him just for expressing critical opinions and doing his legitimate job as a journalist. ”
According to the process: “This is not the first time that the Government of Nigeria and the Cross River government, Governor Ben Ayade, have taken steps to intimidate, harass and dizziness journalists. Allegations and application of unjustified laws, including section 24 of the 2015 Nigerian Cybercrime Act, which provides for the crime of cyber harassment. ”
The complaint filed on behalf of SERAP by her lawyer Kolawole Oluwadare states: “The government of Nigeria and the government of the Cross River State apply loose laws that give officials enormous discretion in violating human rights. They punish Agba Jalingo and other journalists and silence them for their reporting, thereby undermining Nigerians’ right to information, public participation, open and democratic governance in the country. ”
Part of the process is: “If freedom of expression and the media are to have any real meaning in a democracy, these rights must necessarily include the freedom to criticize the government and its officials. In fact, the idea of a democracy is that the People are encouraged to express their criticism, including their false criticism, of elected government institutions in the hope that this process will improve the government process. ”
“Harassment, intimidation, unfair prosecution and arbitrary detention of Agba Jalingo for exercising his human rights alone violate Nigeria’s international human rights commitments, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the State of which it is a party Country is.
“Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right, and the full exercise of this right is essential for the achievement of individual freedom and the development of democracy. It is not only the cornerstone of democracy, it is also essential for a thriving civil society. ”
“In times of public debates about political figures and public institutions, the value human rights treaties attach to freedom of expression is particularly high.”
“The Nigerian government and cross-state governor Ben Ayade have accused Agba Jalingo of rape, betrayal and refusal to bail, raped and continued to violate his human rights.”
“SERAP claims that Agba Jalingo is wrongly charged with reporting in its online newspaper Cross River Watch, according to which the Cross Rivers governor embezzled 500 million Naira people at the Cross-River Micro Finance Bank.”
“On August 22, 2019, the Nigerian police through their special anti-theft team arrested Agba Jalingo. On August 23, 2019, Mr. Jalingo was taken to a detention center by the anti-cult and anti-kidnapping police in Calabar, capital of the state of Southern Cross River in Nigeria, brought and held there days before his indictment on August 31, 2019 .. ”
SERAP requests the following relief:
1. DECLARATION that the Government of Nigeria and the Government of the Cross River State, Governor Ben Ayade, have taken measures to continue arbitrarily detaining and unlawfully detaining Agba Jalingo using the Cybercrime Law 41 and 59 of the Nigerian Penal Code and Article 1 and Article 17 (2) (a) and (b) of the Law to Prevent, Modify and Combat Terrorism violate its human rights, which are guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights
2. A DECLARATION that the arbitrary detention and unjustified persecution of Agba Jalingo by the Government of Nigeria and the Government of the Cross River State, Governor Ben Ayade, are illegal and illegal because they constitute breaches of duty The Nigerian authorities respect, protect, promote and implement the rights to freedom of expression and information, as well as freedom of the media, guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human Rights, people and peoples
3. DECISION The Nigerian government and the governor of the cross-river state, Ben Ayade, are instructed to release Agba Jalingo immediately and unconditionally and to drop all charges against him in accordance with Nigeria’s international obligations in the area of human rights under the international law Covenant on civil and political rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights
4. Order the Government of Nigeria and the Government of the Cross River State, Governor Ben Ayade and / or their agents to provide Agba Jalingo with effective remedies and remedies, including compensation and reimbursement, sufficient satisfaction and guarantees of non-repetition
5. FOR SUCH OTHER REASONS, the Court may consider it appropriate under the circumstances of this prosecution.
No date was set for the hearing of the process.