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Agba Jalingo and Governor Ayade’s executive recklessness



The supposed offence of Journalist Agba Jalingo was that he wrote a story that raised weighty allegations of corruption against Governor Ayade of Cross River State. Instead of exploring legal channels to clear his name or dispute Agba’s claims, the Governor caused him to be declared wanted before being arrested and detained. When invariably he was arraigned in court, the charges were less about making false allegations against the Governor but more about alleged terrorism.

He is even charged for wanting to overthrow the Governor as well as being an associate of Omoyele Sowore, perhaps to strengthen the allegation of terrorism.

Now each time Agba is brought to court, his hands are manacled, meaning that his right to human dignity is being violently violated.

To compound his precarious situation, the Federal High Court in Calabar has so far refused to grant him bail.

And so, Agba is spending months in detention on the basis of contrived charges by those who believe they are not only above the law, but are actually the law, and therefore cannot be questioned on their official conduct.

Obviously, they are emboldened by the prevailing atmosphere of impunity as is also being seen in the case of Sowore and Mandate as well as Journalist Jones Abiri who is back in detention on similar allegations of terrorism for which he was detained without trial for two years before he was ordered released, and has so far been unable to meet the harsh bail conditions imposed on him.

Back to Agba! In a sense, there is no difference between Governor Ayade and Military Governor Alfred Diette-Spiff of the then Rivers State who in the early 70’s ordered that the head of Journalist Minere Amakiri be shaved with a broken bottle for daring to report in The Observer about Teacher’s protest on a day he, Spiff, was celebrating his birthday. But if such impunity was not accepted and was fought under the military, it cannot be accepted and should be vehemently fought in a Democratic dispensation.

We in the media especially our unions and professional bodies now need to rise and with ONE strong voice and action, SAY NO TO THIS EXECUTIVE RECKLESSNESS

– *Lanre Arogundade*

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