The ECOWAS Court of Justice in Abuja has awarded the sum of N30 million damages against the federal government in favour of Agba Jalingo .
It “ordered the Federal Government to pay journalist Agba Jalingo N30m as compensation for ill-treating and torturing him while in detention in Cross River state.”
In a unanimous judgment delivered by Justice Asoako Asemte on Friday the Court noted that “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.”
“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,” it held.
Lead counsel to the plaintiff, Femi Falana, (SAN), in his reaction said: “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.”
“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.”
The judgment followed the suit filed by SERAP against the government of Nigeria, Cross River state government and Governor Ben Ayade at the ECOWAS Court over the prolonged, arbitrary detention; unfair prosecution; persecution, and sham trial of Mr Jalingo.
Jalingo, the publisher of CrossRiverWatch, was arrested by Nigeria Police, through its special anti-robbery squad on August 22 , 2019 over a report alleging that Mr Ayade diverted N500 million belonging to the state.
“ On 23rd August 2019, Mr. Jalingo was transferred to a detention facility run by the anti-cult and anti-kidnapping police in Calabar, the capital of Nigeria’s southern Cross River state and was held there for days before his arraignment on 31st August, 2019.”