The ECOWAS Court of Justice sitting in Abuja has ordered the President Buhari led Government to pay the sum of N30million as compensation to Agba Jalingo, for ill-treatment and torture while he was held in detention in Cross River state.
Agba Jalingo, is the publisher of CrossRiverWatch, an online media outfit that published a report, alleging that Governor Ben Ayade of Cross Rivers State had diverted N500 million belonging to Cross Rivers Micro Finance Bank.
You would recall that, On 22nd August 2019, the Nigeria Police, through its special anti-robbery squad had arrested Agba Jalingo, and on 23rd August 2019, he was transferred to a detention facility run by the anti-cult and anti-kidnapping police in Calabar, Cross River state.
He was held in detention for days before his arraignment on 31st August, 2019 on charges of terrorism and treason.
The suit against the Federal Government of Nigeria and Cross River State Government of Governor Ben Ayade to ECOWAS Court over the prolonged, arbitrary detention; unfair prosecution; persecution, and sham trial of Mr Jalingo was filed by SERAP.
The ECOWAS Court in its judgement stated that: “Agba Jalingo was arrested and chained to a deep freezer for about 34 days without being charged to court, brutalized and dehumanized. This action taken on Jalingo’s behalf by SERAP seeks from this court reparation for inhuman treatment and torture meted out to him. 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.”
It further stated that “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 Solicitor to SERAP, Femi Falana, SAN in a statement after the judgment, said that: “In view of the ongoing brutalization of hapless Nigerian citizens by the police and other security agencies, this judgment could not have come at a more opportune time than now.”
He reiterated that “It is to be hoped that the Federal and state governments and all law enforcement agencies will study the terms of the judgment and desist from further infringing on the human rights of the Nigerian people, including criminal suspects who are presumed innocent until the contrary is proved by the State.”