The Online Publishers Association of Nigeria (OPAN) is insisting on the immediate release from the gulags of Mister Agba Jalingo, a journalist and Publisher of Calabar-based news website, CrossRiverWatch. OPAN is hooking its insistence on the immediate and unconditional release of the journalist on what it frames as use of security officials and misapplying state laws by elected officials to harass and intimidate journalists, activists and critics of government.
To equate published criticism of government, policies and politicians with treason is absurd, draconian and outrageous, said OPAN which holds that the “authorities MUST release Agba Jalingo and other journalists, who are currently in state custody for speaking truth to power and demanding accountability from public office holders…”.
Agba’s case brings to four, the number of high profile detainees whose release from preemptive detention is the subject of equally high profile campaigns. Among these are Omoyele Sowore of #RevolutionNow, Ibrahim el-Zak Zakky of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria and Colonel Sambo Dasuki, the National Security Adviser of the preceding regime.
The association is also asking the police and Nigerian government to drop all charges preferred against Mr. Agba Jalingo, calling the charges outrageous.
According to the statement by Mr. Austyn Ogannah, OPAN’s president, the police in Cross River State charged Mr Agba Jalingo with disturbing the public peace and treason with his writings and social media posts about the Cross River State governor, Mr. Benedict Ayade.
That was on August 30th, 2019, following his arrest in Lagos on August 22, 2019 and a two count charge of terrorism, stemming from his alleged plans to work with Omoyele Sowore, “cult members,” and a local prince to “commit acts of terrorism” to remove Ayade from office.