The ECOWAS Court of Justice, Abuja, on Friday ordered the Federal Government to pay a journalist, Agba Jalingo, N30 mllion as compensation for ill-treating and torturing him while in detention in Cross River State
The judgment followed a suit filed by Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, against the Federal Government and Cross River State Government over the prolonged, arbitrary detention; unfair prosecution; persecution, and sham trial of Mr Jalingo.
This was disclosed by SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare.
“For these reasons, on the claims of compensation for ill-treatment and torture, SERAP has been able to establish the claims. We condemn the Nigerian government for these acts, and hereby award compensation of N30m to Mr Jalingo for violations of his human rights. The Nigerian government must comply with the order of the court within three months, and file a process to this court to this effect.”
The court agreed with SERAP’s submission that Agba Jalingo was arrested and chained to a deep freezer for about 34 days without being charged to court, brutalized and dehumanized.
Kolawole said the action taken on Jalingo’s behalf by the organization, seeks from the court reparation for inhuman treatment and torture meted out to him.
Jalingo, who is the publisher of Cross River Watch, was arrested on August 22 over a report alleging that Governor Ayade diverted N500 million belonging to the state.
The court gave the order for compensation after hearing arguments from the solicitor to SERAP, Femi Falana SAN, and lawyers to the government, Abdulahi Abubakar and A. A. Nuhu.
Reacting to the judgment, Femi Falana, SAN said: “In view of the ongoing brutalization of hapless Nigerian citizens by the police and other security agencies, this judgment could not have come at a more opportune time than now.”