By Emma Una
…As CDHR calls for Jalingo’s unconditional release
CALABAR—A Cross River State High Court sitting in Calabar, yesterday, granted an application by Atah Ochinke, counsel to Agba Jalingo, Cross River online journalist, who has been in police detention for over two weeks for him to be produced in court on Wednesday (tomorrow) to explain why he should continue to be kept in detention.
Trial judge, Justice Franca Isoni, held that in compliance with the state’s law, the Criminal Justice Administration law signed into law by the Governor Ben Ayade’s government in 2017, which demands that a suspect must be arraigned within 24 hours of his or her arrest or be granted bail while investigation is ongoing, Jalingo should be brought before the court.
The court also ordered the Police to be served through substituted means since the court’s bailiff has not been able to serve them with the suit.
Speaking, Ochinke said the police have been evading service of suit and that the order granted by the court will enable him send the suit through courier which they (Police) cannot reject or claim ignorance of.
He also stated that the charge handed by the police to his client while still in their detention does not amount to arraignment since he was not taken before any court where the charges were read to him.
The matter was adjourned to Wednesday, for the police to produce Jalingo in court.
Meanwhile, the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights, CDHR, has called for the unconditional release of the journalist, Jalingo.
CDHR President, Mr Malachy Ugwunmmadu, in a statement noted that the charge against Agba was just filed on August 30, 2019, several weeks after his adoption without a detention order and in violation of his rights to liberty and movement under Ss. 34&40 of the 1999 Constitution respectively.
Ugwunmmadu said: “The charges filed are clearly by private legal practitioners who did not disclose their sources of authority in filing charges against Mr. Jalingo either as police officers or legal practitioners acting on behalf of the CP or IG except their claim as “Legal/Prosecution“ whatever that means.
“I do not think they are sufficiently covered by the Supreme Court authorities in FRN vs Osahon(2006)2 S.C (Pt.11); (2006)5 NWLR(Pt.973)361 or the earlier case of Sunday Olusemo vs COP (1998) 11 NWLR. Assuming without conceding that they’re also police officers(who are also legal practitioners) their situations are made worse in terms of filing and prosecuting those charges by virtues of S.106 of the ACJA 2015.”
“I understand that Cross Rivers State, like Lagos State, has promulgated their own ACJL. The well established principle of law by the Court of Appeal in Arthur Nwankwo v State since 1985 renders counts 1 and 2 patently indefensible. Counts 3 and 4 loosely refer to him(Agba) as an associate of Cde. Sowore as though Sowore is already a convict, an ex convict, fugitive or an outlaw forgetting that Sowore is still a free citizen of Nigeria in whose favour the presumption of innocence under S. 36(6) still applies while Jalingo retains his right to freely associate.”