SWITZERLAND, AUGUST 30 – Comrade Agba Jalingo was served with a police invitation in which he was invited for an “interview” slated for 19th day of August 2019. The invitation was in respect of a publication in which he wrote that Governor Ben Ayade approved and diverted N500 million meant for a microfinance bank in Calabar. Upon receipt of the police invitation, Jalingo reached out to the police in Calabar informing them that 19th of August wasn’t convenient to him and that there was need to reschedule the “interview”. Both parties subsequently agreed and fixed August 26th for the “interview”.
In a curious twist of event, armed policemen invaded Comrade Jalingo’s residence in Lagos on the 22nd day of August, 2019 and whisked him away in the most dehumanising fashion to Calabar, harassing his wife and staff in the process.
When contacted by journalists to give explanations for Jalingo’s arrest, Chief Press Secretary to Governor Ben Ayade, Christian Ita, claimed that Jalingo’s arrest was not related to his article on the microfinance bank, but that Jalingo was arrested for his participation in the #RevolutionNow protests in Lagos on August 5th. Many wondered if the Cross River Governor had the legal right to arrest Jalingo over a peaceful protest he staged in Lagos, more than two weeks after his demonstration.
Comrade Jalingo has been abandoned in detention since the 22nd of August whilst the police continue to shop for an offence to hang on his neck. Two days ago or thereabouts, they abandoned their claim about his participation in #RevolutionNow protest and came up with trumped up charges that Jalingo collaborated with some person(s) to buy guns with the aim of promoting cultism in Cross River State.
Upon realising how laughable that charge was, and with no evidence to hold on to, they abandoned that too. Today they eventually came to Jalingo’s cell and served him a Writ of Summons purportedly filed by the microfinance bank. The “Bank” is demanding for N2.10 billion in damages over Jalingo’s publication.
In Law, libel (written defamation) is pursued via civil proceedings. But it is amazing how the Nigerian Police, in connivance with Governor Ayade, dressed up a civil case in a criminal garment.
Despite the service of the Writ of Summons on him, Comrade Agba Jalingo has been left in detention. They have refused to release him to enable him defend the several allegations contained in their court process.
Under Buhari’s despotic reign, the police seems excited in their collaboration with political office holders to cause a major deformity on Nigeria’s democracy.
Public office is not synonymous with private business, and those who occupy public office are without the competence to stop the public from demanding accountability from their employees.
The police and their accomplices in this undemocratic conspiracy should immediately release Comrade Agba Jalingo!
Elias Ozikpu is a writer and human right activist. He is also a leading member of the RevolutionNow Movement. His Novel, Souza Boy was published in 2014 by the Nigerian Writers Series.
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