A journalist, Agba Jalingo was on Friday arrested by plainclothes policemen and whisked Area F Police Station, Ikeja, from where he was on Saturday morning transferred to the police headquarters, Abuja.
Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana SAN said Jalingo was arrested from his Alapere, Ketu home, after his wife and children were subjected to untold hardship and brutalization.
Lagos State police image maker, SP Benjamin Hundeyin however revealed that the policemen that arrested Jalingo were from Abuja and not from Lagos. In a tweet, he said that the Lagos Police Command is fully aware of the operation to arrest Jalingo. “These were police officers from Abuja on a legitimate investigation. We are fully aware”, Hundeyin tweeted.
Falana in a press statement revealed that the police arrest of Jalingo was as a result of a story carried by his newspaper, CrossRiverWatch, on a lecturer facing prosecution after being caught cheating in Nigerian Law School examination, on behalf of the wife to junior brother of the governor of Cross River State.
Omoyele Sowore, rights activist, and presidential flag bearer gave more vivid explanation: “Today, Agba Jalingo is being detained accused of raising concerns over the prosecution of a lecturer hired by the wife of Franco Ayade, the younger brother of the Calabar-based Governor @Ben Ayade. According to the sources, his wife, Mrs. Elizabeth Alami Ayade, failed Law School Bar examination and then hired a university lecturer to write it for her a second time. The lecturer was caught and is being prosecuted (as I was told). As a journalist, public conscience and social critic, Agba Jalingo questioned why the woman is who procured the lecturer hadn’t been apprehended. Instead of swinging into action, the police arrested Agba Jalingo from Lagos, a team of policemen led by one SP Danbaba M Alura led the team from CID Garki, Abuja and flew into Lagos to arrest journalist Jalingo. This morning Femi Falana (SAN) visited Agba Jalingo at the “Area F” holding cell in Ikeja. He was politely told this is “IG’s personal case.”
Below is the statement if Falana over the arrest:
Yesterday, a team of the police personnel despatched from Abuja stormed the home of Agba Jalingo at Alapere, Ketu in Lagos State to arrest him. After subjecting his wife and children to unwarranted harassment for hours, the police arrested Agba, yanked him out and took him to the Area F Police Command, Ikeja, Lagos State where he was detained until this morning. I met him at the police station where he informed me that he committed no offence but that his newspaper, CrossRiverWatch had only asked why a lecturer who wrote examinations for a student in the Nigerian Law School, Abuja has been arraigned in court while the student is being treated like a sacred cow.
The police officers corroborated his account and stated that the petitioner had alleged that Agba Jalingo had committed “defamation and infringement of his integrity”, which is not an offence under any provision of the Criminal Code.
Based on the information at my disposal, I was compelled to demand for his unconditional release since he has contravened any provision of the Criminal Code. But the police officers informed me that his detention was ordered by the Authorities in Abuja. Thus, at about 11 am this morning he was flown out of Lagos and he is currently being detained at the Criminal Investigation Department, Garki, Abuja.
The ongoing harassment of Agba based on the allegation that he has defamed the wife of the brother of a serving Governor is the height of official impunity in a democratic society. Since defamation is not a criminal offence the action of the Police is a flagrant breach of section 8(2) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 and section 32(2) of the Police Establishment Act 2020 which have banned the police from arresting any person in Nigeria for civil wrong or breach of contract. Therefore, the police Authorities should release Agba Jalingo unconditionally and advise the petitioner to sue for libel in a civil court.
Femi Falana SAN,
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