CSOs ask NHRC, USA to prevail on C/River govt over alleged detention of 2 journalists
National Human Right Commission

By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja

Civil Society Organisations, Monday, called on National Human Rights Commission, NHRC and the United States of America, USA, to prevail on the Cross River State Government over the detention of two journalists, Agba Jalingo and Joseph Odok.

READ ALSOCSOs calls on EFCC to investigate Tinubu over alleged money conveyed in bullion vans

This was contained in a petition signed by the Convener, Concerned Nigerians, CN, Prince Deji Adeyanju; Convener, Coalition in Defence of Nigerian Democracy and Constitution, CDNDC, Ariyo-Dare Atoye; and Convener, Free Nigeria Movement, FNM, Adebayo Raphael, to the Executive Secretary, NHRC, and Ambassador to the United States of America to Nigeria titled, ‘Persecution, Illegal Arrests and Illegal Detention of Activists and Journalists by the Governor of Cross Rivers State’ and ‘Call for Visa Ban on Cross River State Governor, Ben Ayade’ respectively.

They described the alleged actions by the Government of Cross River as acts of impunity and repression.

According to the CSOs Agba Jalingo are a renowned Cross Rivers State journalist and activist who was unjustly arrested on August 22, 2019, for “criticising Governor Ayade” that led to his detention.

READ ALSOCSO condemns alleged plan to arrest, charge Soyombo

It also added that another activist cum blogger named Joseph Odok has been arrested and detained arbitrarily since September 26, 2019, on the order of the Cross Rivers State government and has now been charged with terrorism for publishing a post on Facebook.

The CSOs also in the petition alleged that there is a growing clampdown on press freedom and freedom of expression in Cross Rivers State, hence the NHRC should commence the investigation.

The statement reads in part, “We are a civil society organization that prioritizes human rights and good governance in Nigeria. We have consistently taken a stance against the myriad violations of the constitutionally guaranteed rights of Nigerians by unscrupulous individuals and public institutions.

It is an unambiguous fact that the National Human Rights Commission, by virtue of the National Human Rights Act of 1995 (as amended in 2010), is saddled with the responsibility of promoting and protecting all human rights in Nigeria.

“It is on this basis that we write to petition the commission to commence an investigation into the growing clampdown on press freedom and freedom of expression in Cross Rivers State, Nigeria. Specifically, we wish to ask the commission to join Nigerians in resisting and ending the persecution of Agba Jalingo and Joseph Odok by the Cross Rivers State government of Governor Ben Ayade.

“Agba Jalingo is a renowned Cross Rivers State Journalist and Activist who was unjustly arrested on August 22, 2019, for criticising Governor Ben Ayade of Cross Rivers State and has since been in detention for same.

“According to a popular Online Medium in Nigeria, Agba Jalingo was arraigned on Friday, August 30, 2019 at the Federal High Court, Calabar Judicial Division, on four counts bordering on “acts of treason, treasonable felony, and threatening through various publications on crossriverwatch and social media, using malicious publications, instigating the people of Nigeria to stage protest for the removal of the Governor of Cross River State of Nigeria from office without due process of law and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 41 of the Criminal Code Act, Cap C38, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.”

“Similarly, another activist cum blogger named Joseph Odok has been arrested and detained arbitrarily since September 26, 2019 on the order of the Cross Rivers State government and has now been charged with terrorism for publishing a post on Facebook.

“We believe that acts of impunity and repression as highlighted above are unfit for any democratic society. And allowing this trend of despotism to continue without consequences will only aggravate the worsening human rights conditions in the country.

“We, therefore, beseech you to beam your searchlight into these human rights violations going on in Cross Rivers State and ensure that the victims of state persecution mentioned above are not made to suffer further for exercising their fundamental human rights of freedom of expression and freedom of the press as guaranteed by section 39 of the Nigerian constitution.

“We trust that you will look into this matter with the unalloyed urgency that it deserves.”

In a related development, the group also called on the United States Ambassador to Nigeria, to impose visa ban on Governor Ben Ayade and family, for alleged clampdown on press freedom and freedom of expression in Cross Rivers State, following arrest and detention of Agba Jalingo and Joseph Odok, for allegedly criticising the Governor and for publishing a post on Facebook respectively, which they have since been charged to court on different charges.

“We write to call the attention of the United States Embassy in Nigeria to the unabashed clampdown on press freedom and freedom of expression in Cross Rivers State, Nigeria.

“The Governor of Cross Rivers State, Ben Ayade, has declared war on press freedom and free speech in the state by randomly harassing, arresting, and incarcerating activists and journalists on fallacious charges to abet his repression and persecution agenda.

“We believe that acts of impunity and repression as highlighted above are unfit for any democratic society. And allowing this trend of despotism to continue without consequences will only aggravate the worsening human rights conditions in the country.

“We, therefore, beseech you to please look into these human rights violations going on in Cross Rivers State and impose visa restrictions on the Governor of Cross Rivers State, Ben Ayade and all the members of his family.”

vanguard

Subscribe to our youtube channel

Disclaimer

Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.