The ECOWAS Court of Justice in Abuja has awarded N30 million against the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government for ill-treating and torturing journalist, Agba Jalingo, while in detention in Cross River state.
The judgment was delivered on Friday following a suit filed by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) on behalf of Agba Jalingo.
SERAP had filed a fundamental human rights enforcement action against the Federal Government and Cross River State government over the prolonged, arbitrary detention; unfair prosecution; persecution, and sham trial of Mr Jalingo.
What Did Agba Jalingo Do?
Jalingo, who is the publisher of CrossRiverWatch, was arrested on August 22 over a report alleging that Cross River State Governor, Ben Ayade, diverted N500 million belonging to the state.
The journalist had spent five months in custody after he was charged with conspiracy, terrorism, treasonable felony and an attempt to topple the state government.
Governor Ayade had denied involvement in the trial of Jalingo, saying the federal government was behind the journalist’s case over his involvement in the #RevolutionNow protest led by Omoyele Sowore.
Court Rules In Favour Of Agba Jalingo
Delivering its judgement on Friday in a suit filed by SERAP, the court said: “We have looked at the evidence before us. There was no answer as to the facts that Jalingo was arrested and illegally detained, brutalized and dehumanized.
“This is against international human rights treaties, particularly the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to which Nigeria is a state party. The Nigerian government has flouted the provisions of these treaties on international fair trial standards.
“For these reasons, on the claims of compensation for ill-treatment and torture, SERAP has been able to establish the claims. We condemn the Nigerian government for these acts, and hereby award compensation of N30m to Mr Jalingo for violations of his human rights. The Nigerian government must comply with the order of the court within three months, and file a process to this court to this effect.”
The court agreed with SERAP’s submission that Agba Jalingo was arrested and chained to a deep freezer for about 34 days without being charged to court, brutalized and dehumanized.
Kolawole said the action taken on Jalingo’s behalf by the organization, seeks from the court reparation for inhuman treatment and torture meted out to him.