Human Rights group, Amnesty International, has said that the Nigerian and Cross River State governments were manipulating the criminal justice system to repress dissenting voices in violation of the 1999 constitution as amended as well as international and regional human rights treaties.
Amnesty International also said that the continued detention of Agba Jalingo, a journalist who risks a death sentence if convicted for four charges bordering on terrorism and cybercrime preferred against him, was a “stain on the image of Nigeria.”
“While Agba Jalingo is detained for his critical opinions, both Cross River and Federal governments are collaborating through the manipulation of the criminal justice system to keep him behind bars,” said Amnesty International’s media manager, Sanusi Isa, during a press conference on Thursday in Calabar.
Isa described the collaboration as “unfortunate,” and noted that, “Cross River State is fast becoming a den of repression because more people are getting arrested for expressing their opinions”.
The rights group said; “The Cross River State authorities must stop the repression. The authorities must respect, protect, promote and ensure the right to freedom of expression and media freedom.
“Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State and the government of President Muhammadu Buhari must stop filing bogus and politically motivated charges against critics and start listening to what they have to say.
“The case of Agba Jalingo is just one of many cases of blatant violations of the right to freedom of expression and media freedom in Cross River State and several parts of Nigeria.
“Joseph Odok was also unlawfully detained and later charged with terrorism solely for expressing critical opinion on social media.”
The rights group said it was also concerned that Jalingo’s trial “falls short of International standards of fairness, especially because the court had allowed witnesses to be masked and the trial to be held in secret.”
While calling for an end to the “sham trial” and “the flawed charges” to be dropped; Amnesty said it will continue to “push for Agba Jalingo’s immediate and unconditional release and work with other NGOs to hold the Cross River State authorities to account for the increasing assault on human rights.”
The rights group had on November 20, 2019 declared Jalingo alongside #RevolutionNow convener, Omoyele Sowore, and Olawale Bakare as prisoners of conscience shortly after the #OneFreePressCoalition listed him at number 9 of 10 ‘Most Urgent’ cases of threats to press freedom around the world.
Jalingo was arrested in his Lagos residence on August 22, 2019 despite repeated statements that he will honour a police invitation bordering on his article published in July where he demanded the whereabouts of the N500m approved and released by the Cross River State Government for the floating of Cross River Microfinance Bank.
He was then ferried to Calabar by road in what colleagues and family describe as a tortuous 25-hour journey where he arrived on the 24th.
He will then spend 32 days detained at a police black site facility where he collapsed twice due to ill health before being arraigned on initial charges of treason, treasonable felony, terrorism and attempt to topple the Cross River State Government on September 25, 2019.
Justice Simon Amobeda then remanded him at the Calabar prisons where he has spent 134 days so far after being denied bail twice.
Cross River governor, Benedict Ayade, has been fingered as being behind his ordeal, an allegation the governor and his aides denied.
Ayade had also accused Jalingo of blackmail in a recent chat with journalists, an allegation he later retracted and apologised claiming he got his facts wrong.
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FG Launches Virtual Court Sitting At Correctional Centres
The Federal Government on Monday launched the use of virtual court proceedings in Nigeria’s correctional centres.
The launch ceremony took place at the Kuje Correctional Centre in Abuja, the nation’s capital and had in attendance the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami; Interior Minister, Rauf Aregbesola, and the Comptroller-General of the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCS), Haliru Nababa among other top government officials.
In his remarks, the Justice Minister said the programme would reduce backlogs of court cases and the time spent on pre-trial of suspects.
Malami believes the virtual court proceedings would effectively aid in the administration of criminal justice in the country.
“This project, therefore, initiated to ensure the hearing and determination of urgent and time-bound cases using the digital platforms,” he said.
“This system will effectively ensure the speedy dispensation of trials in line with Section 36 (4) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended which provides that every person shall be entitled to fair hearing within a reasonable time.”
The Kuje Correctional Centre in Abuja.
On her part, the Secretary of the Presidential Committee on Correctional Reforms and Decongestion, Leticia Ayoola-Daniels said the virtual court proceedings would augment the already existing virtual court facilities that are inherent in the nation’s judiciary.
The move, she noted, will fast-track the dispensation of court cases that would help save the Federal Government cost on the security and mobilisation of accused persons to court.
While giving a breakdown of the number of inmates awaiting trial, the Interior Minister, also spoke on the attacks of correctional centres in recent times.
According to Aregbesola, most of the attacks on the custodial centres are linked to suspects that are awaiting trial because they make up 74 per cent of the total population of inmates in the nation’s correctional facilities.
He said, “50,992 inmates representing 74 per cent of the total population of inmates in our custodial centres are awaiting trial suspects while only 17,755 inmates which is a mere 26 per cent area actual convicts.
“The challenges of safety and external attacks at the custodial centres for most parts come therefore from the awaiting trial inmates given their numerical strengths.”
The launch of the project followed the Federal Government’s collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme and the Japanese Government.
692 total views, 395 views today
COVID-19: Lagos Announces Beginning Of 4th Wave
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State has alerted Nigerians of an impending fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic, saying the positivity rate has indicated that Nigeria may soon be faced with surge in infections.
The governor, who stated this in a statement he personally signed on Tuesday, blamed the development on the non-adherence to preventive measures by Nigerians.
According to the governor, as of December 5, the state had recorded a total of 78,564 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with a total of, 71,977 certified to have recovered in community while 612 are still being managed actively in community.
He said: “…most of the continents of the world – including Africa – are now experiencing a fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, Lagos State is not left out as we are also experiencing the beginnings of a fourth wave with the current positivity rate at 6 per cent.”
The governor said the new positivity rate is against the rates of 0.1 per cent as of the middle of November 2021.
727 total views, 395 views today
Former PMAN President, Bolaji Rosiji Dies At 56
Bolaji Rosiji, a former president of the Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria (PMAN), is dead.
Rosiji’s death was announced by one of his friends and colleague, renowned flutist Tee Mac Omatsola Iseli.
Until his death, he was the founder and brain behind Guarapad Charities.
In a statement by Olayemi Esan, the Public Relations Officer, Gaurapad Charities, Rosiji died in Lagos on Sunday after a brief illness.
He said burial arrangements will be announced in coming days.
The late Rosiji founded Gaurapad Charities in 2004, and was the former Secretary-General of the Nigeria Network of NGOs (NNNGO).
He is survived by wife and children.
938 total views, 395 views today
- FG Launches Virtual Court Sitting At Correctional Centres
- COVID-19: Lagos Announces Beginning Of 4th Wave
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