The Coalition for Whistleblowers Protection and Press Freedom (CWPPF), condemns the actions of Governor Ayade of Cross River state and the recurring harassment and arrest of Agba Jalingo.
Mr Jalingo, the Publisher of Cross River Watch, was arrested on the 26th of August in Lagos state before being moved to Cross River state. He has since been charged with criminal offences.
Mr Jalingo was arraigned on Friday at the Federal High Court, Calabar Judicial Division, on four counts bordering on “acts of treason, treasonable felony, and threatening through various publications on crossriverwatch.com and social media, using malicious publications, instigating the people of Nigeria to stage protest for the removal of the Governor of Cross River State of Nigeria from office without due process of law and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 41 of the Criminal Code Act, Cap C38, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, Section 59 of the Criminal Code Act, Cap C38, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, Section 17 of the Terrorism (Prevention Amendment) Act, 2013 and Section 1(2) (a) (b) of the Terrorism (Prevention Amendment) Act, 2013.”
Nigerian journalists should not be charged with any trumped-up criminal offences for holding the government accountable. Such actions are absolute ridicule on the law and the freedom of expression, and the charges make utter ridicule of the Nigerian Legal System.
The increasing attacks on journalists infringe on the freedom of the press. It behoves the government and other stakeholders to conscientiously work towards laws and provisions that will guarantee the safety and security of journalists in the line of duty and in holding the government accountable. Failure is a slight on any democratic society and is a disservice to journalism, a profession that is fundamental to sustaining democracy.
The CWPPF calls on all relevant authorities to ensure justice is served in the case of Mr Jalingo’s arrest and detention, and any person or group found complicit be tried to the full extent of the law and brought to book.
The press attack tracker has recorded cases of unlawful arrest and harassment of Journalists from Cross River state. Mr Ayade has been directly linked to four of the reports, and this reflects poorly on the state and its government.
The CWPPF calls on the Commissioner of Police in Cross River state to intervene and ensure that this constant harassment is curbed. Holding the government accountable cannot and should not be considered an act of treason.
- African Centre for Media & Information Literacy (AFRICMIL)
- Civic Media Lab
- Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC)
- Daily Trust Newspaper
- HEDA Resources Centre.
- International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR)
- International Press Centre (IPC)
- Media Rights Agenda (MRA)
- Nigeria Union of Journalist (NUJ)
- Paradigm Initiative
- Premium Times
- Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism
- Sahara Reporters
- Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP)
- The Cable
- Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism