The ECOWAS Court of Justice in Abuja has ordered the Federal Government to pay journalist, Agba Jalingo, N30 million as compensation for ill-treating and torturing him while in detention in Cross River State.
The court said this in a judgment according to a press release issued by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) on Friday.
The judgment followed the suit filed by SERAP against the government of Nigeria and Cross River state government of governor Ben Ayade to ECOWAS Court over the prolonged, arbitrary detention; unfair prosecution; persecution, and sham trial of Mr Jalingo.
Jalingo, who is the publisher of CrossRiverWatch, was arrested on August 22 over a report alleging that Ayade diverted N500 million belonging to the state.
The court was quoted in the statement as saying, “Agba Jalingo was arrested and chained to a deep freezer for about 34 days without being charged to court, brutalised and dehumanised. This action taken on Jalingo’s behalf by SERAP seeks from this court reparation for inhuman treatment and torture meted out to him. We have looked at the evidence before us. There was no answer as to the facts that Jalingo was arrested and illegally detained, brutalised and dehumanised.”
“This is against international human rights treaties, particularly the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to which Nigeria is a state party. The Nigerian government has flouted the provisions of these treaties on international fair trial standards.”
“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 N30 million 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.”