Detained Publisher Brought to Court in Handcuffs, Denied Bail

This statement was originally published on mediarightsagenda.org on October 13, 2019.

In an apparent move by the Cross River State government to humiliate him, Mr. Agba Jalingo, publisher of Cross River Watch, who had been arrested and detained since August 22, 2019 was on October 4, 2019 brought to court in handcuffs for his bail ruling.

Justice Simon Amobeda of the Federal High Court, sitting in Calabar, Cross River State, denied him bail and ordered that he be remanded in prison custody pending the conclusion of his trial and determination of the charge brought against him by the Prosecution.

He was also taken away in handcuffs by the prison officials

The publisher was arrested on August 22, 2019 by a team of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigerian Police from his home in Lagos. They took him to SARS office in Ikoyi, Lagos State and on August 23, they transferred him to a detention facility meant for criminals in Calabar.

He was arraigned on September 25and charged with treasonable felony, terrorism and attempt to topple the Cross River State Government. Although he pleaded not guilty to the charges, he was however detained pending the determination of his bail application.

Agba was arrested and has remained in detention over a petition against his portal by a microfinance bank in Calabar which accused the medium of attempting to cause a breach of the peace.

Cross River Watch had published a story on July 17 saying that a microfinance bank which was supposed to have been established following the announcement by the Cross River State governor, Benedict Ayade, of the allocation of N500 million for its establishment was not functional several months after; that no activity was going on at the bank.

Agba was invited by the Police in Cross River while he was out of the State and asked to report for questioning on August 19. In the invitation, the Police accused him of “conspiracy to cause unrest” and “conduct likely to cause a breach of peace.” In his response, Agba informed the police he would honor the invitation when he returned to Cross River state on August 26. He was however not allowed to return before he was arrested in Lagos.