Agba Jalingo moved to Abuja as Falana wades in, condemns act

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Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), has taken over a case involving the Nigeria Police Force and rights activist, Agba Jalingo, Channels Television has learnt.

The senior lawyer, it was learnt, visited Jalingo at the Area F Police Station in Ikeja where Jalingo was detained on Friday night.

The activist and publisher of Cross River Watch was, however, moved to Abuja on Saturday afternoon via the Murtala Muhammed Airport in Ikeja, the Lagos State capital.

Our correspondent gathered that a very police officer at the Force Criminal Investigative and Intelligence Department in Abuja ordered that Ayade be arrested and that he be moved down to Abuja.

Speaking with Channels Television in a telephone chat shortly after the flight, his wife, Mrs Jalingo, said “They have taken him (Jalingo) to Abuja.”

When asked what the policemen said Jalingo’s offence(s) was, his wife said, “Defamation of character and infringement of integrity on Frank Ayade’s wife, the younger brother to Cross River State, Governor Ben Ayade.”

When asked about the lawyer handling the matter, she disclosed that “Femi Falana (SAN) was in the station with us this morning and has sent his lawyers in Abuja to handle the case.”

Also, Falana, in a telephone chat, confirmed to Channels Television that he has taken over the case.

The distraught wife of the activist, however, expressed worry, saying, “Everything is getting very difficult and scary and one will definitely be apprehensive.”

Also, the Police Public Relations Officer in Lagos State, Benjamin Hundeyin, told Channels Television that the case is not with the state command but the Force Headquarters. “They came from Abuja and they have taken him away. I don’t know the details,” he said.

But a senior police officer who spoke on the condition of anonymity told Channels Television that a very senior police officer in Abuja signed a letter and dispatched a team to arrest Jalingo.

Efforts to get the comments of Force Public Relations Officer Muyiwa Adejobi proved abortive as he was yet to respond to calls as of the time of publishing this report.

Channels Television had on Friday reported that policemen from Force Headquarters stormed Jalingo’s residence in the Alapere area of Lagos and whisked him to the Area F Police Station where he was detained overnight.

Jalingo, shortly before his arrest, had told Channels Television that the police officers surrounded his house and held down his wife and daughter.

The publisher of Cross River Watch was imprisoned in 2019 at the Afokang Prison in Calabar and was released on bail on February 17, 2020 after 179 days.

Jalingo, an associate of African Action Congress presidential candidate, Omoyele Sowore, had been arrested following an allegation of treason by the Cross River State Governor Benedict Ayade.

However, in March 2022, a Federal High Court in Calabar, dismissed the terrorism, treasonable felony, and cybercrime charges against Jalingo.

 

Agba Jalingo’s Arrest Is ‘Official Impunity In A Democracy’ – Falana

Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), has described the arrest of human rights activist, Agba Jalingo, as “official impunity in a democratic society”.

In a statement he signed on Saturday and sent to Channels Television, Falana demanded the unconditional release of the activist, noting that the offence (defamation) he was accused of is not a criminal offence.

Falana’s statement titled, ‘Release Agba Jalingo Now!’ read, “Yesterday (Friday), a team of the police personnel despatched from Abuja stormed the home of Agba Jalingo at Alapere, Ketu in Lagos State to arrest him.

“After subjecting his wife and children to unwarranted harassment for hours, the police arrested Agba, yanked him out and took him to the Area F Police Command, Ikeja, Lagos State where he was detained until this morning.

“I met him at the police station where he informed me that he committed no offence but that his newspaper, CrossRiverWatch had only asked why a lecturer who wrote examinations for a student in the Nigerian Law School, Abuja has been arraigned in court while the student is being treated like a sacred cow.

“The police officers corroborated his account and stated that the petitioner had alleged that Agba Jalingo had committed “defamation and infringement of his integrity”, which is not an offence under any provision of the Criminal Code.

“Based on the information at my disposal, I was compelled to demand for his unconditional release since he has contravened any provision of the Criminal Code. But the police officers informed me that his detention was ordered by the Authorities in Abuja. Thus, at about 11 am this morning he was flown out of Lagos and he is currently being detained at the Criminal Investigation Department, Garki, Abuja.

“The ongoing harassment of Agba based on the allegation that he has defamed the wife of the brother of a serving Governor is the height of official impunity in a democratic society. Since defamation is not a criminal offence the action of the Police is a flagrant breach of section 8(2) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 and section 32(2) of the Police Establishment Act 2020 which have banned the police from arresting any person in Nigeria for civil wrong or breach of contract. Therefore, the police Authorities should release Agba Jalingo unconditionally and advise the petitioner to sue for libel in a civil court.”

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