The ECOWAS Court of Justice in Abuja has awarded the sum of N30million as compensation to a journalist, Agba Jalingo, against the Federal Government of Nigeria and Cross River State, over his arbitrary arrest, detention and torture.
In a judgement delivered Friday by a three-member panel, presided over by the president of the court, Justice Edward Amoako Asante, it was held that the Nigerian government flouted the provisions of international fair trial standards, particularly, the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, to which Nigeria is a state party.
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According to the court, “Agba Jalingo was arrested and chained to a deep freezer for about 34 days without being charged to court. He was brutalised and dehumanised.
“This action, taken on Jalingo’s behalf by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (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, brutalised and dehumanised.”
The SERAP filed the action following Jalingo’s arrest on August 22, 2019 after he published in his online newspaper, the ‘Cross River Watch,’ that Governor Ben Ayade diverted the sum of N500m belonging to the state.
The SERAP had, in the application with suit number ECW/CCJ/APP/10/2020, argued that, “The sole objective of the government of Nigeria and the Cross River State Government led by Governor Ben Ayade is to perpetually keep Jalingo in arbitrary detention and silent, him simply for expressing critical views and carrying out his legitimate job as a journalist.”