Agba Jalingo: Journalist Charged With Treason To Receive ‘Courage In Difficult Times Award’

In Breaking News, International News, National News, Reports

By Jonathan Ugbal

Agba Jalingo, the Nigerian journalist who is facing trial for alleged acts of treason, terrorism, cybercrime and attempt to topple the Cross River State government will on May 12, 2020 be awarded the Spaces for Change (S4C) ‘Courage In Difficult Times Award’.

A statement signed by CrossRiverWatch said Jalingo, who spent 179 days in detention before he was admitted to bail was informed of the award via mail by Victoria Ibezim-Ohaeri, the Executive Director of S4C.

“The organizing committee of the Clement Nwankwo Annual Lecture on Civil Society (CNALCS), S4C a few days ago informed CrossRiverWatch’s Publisher, Agba Jalingo that he, alongside other activists in their prime will be honored at the inaugural lecture slated for May 12, 2020 in Abuja.

“According to the mail, the award ceremony aims to ‘honour and recognize the contributions of pioneer activists (dead and alive), who played courageous roles ‘at the very beginning’, by forming and leading credible human rights organizations that pushed back against political tyranny, and whose selfless sacrifices inspired the institutionalization of civic engagement at all levels of governance in Nigeria today.’

“S4C said Jalingo is the ‘only young person to receive this honour alongside the pioneer activists of the 80s and 90s.’

The maiden lecture which is supported by the Open Society Foundations, will be chaired by Bishop Mathew Kukah and “not only represents an effort towards preserving the sector’s iconic history, but also forms part of a broader effort to celebrate courage in difficult times and mobilize civil society actors to work together to defend the civic space,” the statement quoted S4C as saying.

Journalist, Agba Jalingo (Left) communicates with his legal counsel, Attah Ochinke Esq, (Right) at the Federal High Court 2 in Calabar where he is facing trial for alleged treasonable felony, terrorism and attempt to topple the Cross River State Government. 3/10/2019. CrossRiverWatch/Patrick Obia

Jalingo is billed to appear in court on April 6th, 7th and 8th 2020 for the prosecution to open and close it’s case as ordered by trial judge, Justice Sule Shuaibu.

He was arrested in his Lagos residence on August 22nd 2019 about a month after he published an article wherein he demanded that the Cross River State government comes clean on the whereabouts of the NGN500 million it approved and released for the floating of the Cross River Microfinance bank.

He was then driven to Calabar by road in a journey that lasted about 26 hours. He arrived on August 24th and was detained at a Police black site for 32 more days before he was arraigned on September 25th before Justice Simon Amobeda of the Calabar division of the Federal High Court.

Justice Amobeda denied admitting him to bail twice and following a leaked tape of him allegedly threatening that Jalingo will be meted the ‘Dele Giwa’ treatment, the defense team wrote the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court for reassignment of the case; the judge later recused himself.

Journalist, Agba Jalingo (Right) greets a member of his legal team, James Ibor Esq in the Courtroom of the Federal High Court 2 in Calabar where he is facing trial for alleged treasonable felony, terrorism and attempt to topple the Cross River State Government. 3/10/2019. CrossRiverWatch/Patrick Obia

The Cross River State government has been fingered as the architect of his travails, an allegation the State has continuously denied and accused Time Newspapers of practicing “Gutter Journalism” after it published the list of the #OneFreePressCoalition “10 Most Urgent Cases Of Injustice Against Journalists,” wherein Jalingo was listed on number 9.

Groups, organizations, unions and individuals all sought for his release with
Rights group, Amnesty International declaring him, alongside #RevolutionNow convener, Omoyele Sowore and Olawale Bakare ‘prisoners of conscience’ in November 2019. It also, in a press conference described the trial as a “sham” which fell short of regional and international standards especially after Justice Amobeda had ordered that the trial be held in secret and witnesses, masked while testifying against Jalingo.

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