A human rights advocacy group, Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Center (RULAAC) has requested the Police Service Commission (PSC) to order a prompt, impartial and exhaustive investigation into the continued illegal detention of Citizen Agba Jalingo, an Online Journalist, by the Cross River State Police Command.
In a press release signed by Okechukwu Nwanguma, Executive Director, RULAAC acknoqledged that today Monday 2nd of September, 2019, would be the 12th day the Police have held him and failed to release him or charge him with any credible offence.
According to RULAAC, “Citizen Agba Jalingo was arrested on August 22, 2019 by operatives of the Inspector-General of Police’s Intelligence Response Team in Lagos, was driven by road to Calabar and has since then, been held in incommunicado detention contrary to due process.
“He was arrested on the orders of the Cross River State Governor, Ben Ayade who feels offended by a publication he made of alleged corruption in the state”.
It complained that instead of promptly charging him for libel if the governor felt defamed, the Commissioner of Police Austin Agbonlahor had continued to detain him at the pleasure of the governor.
“Police authorities have refused to respond to inquiries about why they have continued to detain Citizen Agba Jalingo far beyond the legally permissible duration for lawful detention”, it added.
Meanwhile, the Association of Cross River State Online Journalists has gone to a Calabar High Court to enforce the fundamental rights of their member.
They report that the Police authorities in Cross River State had refused to accept court summons served on them to produce Agba Jalingo in court and justified why they should continue to flagrantly infringe on his fundamental rights.
“Instead, the police quickly concocted charges bordering on treason and terrorism against a journalist for criticizing governor Ayade of Cross River State.
“It is appalling that this is happening under an Inspector General of Police Mr Abubakar Adamu who is known to preach and emphasize professionalism in police conducts and operations and frequently admonishes police officers against the violation of citizens rights knowing that abuses discredit and destroy the legitimacy of the police and alienate them from the community they are charged to serve and protect.
“RULAAC hereby calls on the Police Service Commission which is established by law as external oversight and accountability mechanism for the police to order a prompt investigation into this flagrant violation that has become public knowledge denting the image of the police, the commission and the country as a whole, locally and internationally.
“We request the Commission to inquiry into the following:
“1. Why the police will continue to detain a citizen indefinitely and refuse to accept court summons to appear in court to defend their actions?
“2. Why the police could charge a journalist with treason or terrorism simply for criticizing a governor and exposing alleged corruption?
“3. Why, despite the public outrage generated by this apparent descent to dictatorship, the IGP appears helpless or have condoned this illegality by his officers in Cross River State?
“This act of professional misconduct by the Commissioner of police, Cross River Command who has rendered the police into a tool for political persecution must be adequately punished to create deterrence.
“RULAAC considers these developments as elevating politics over due process and undermining the rule of law.
“RULAAC urges the Commission to ensure the immediate release of Agba Jalingo from illegal detention and bring an end to the persecution of journalists and critics”.