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‘Cross River becoming a den of repression’ — Amnesty hits Ayade over Jalingo

Taiwo Adebulu

Amnesty International says the trial of Agba Jalingo falls short of international standards.

Jalingo, publisher of CrossRiverWatch, is standing trial on charges bordering on conspiracy, terrorism, treasonable felony and attempt to topple the government of Cross River.

Speaking with reporters on Thursday, in Calabar, the state capital, Isa Sanusi, the organisation’s media manager, accused Ben Ayade, governor of the state, of running a repressive government.

He said the governor has refused to reply letters written to him by the organisation on the continued detention of the online publisher.

“Cross River is becoming a den of repression where an increasing number of people are being clamped into detention. Cross River government is very high-handed and repressive,” Sanusi said.

“We have written to him (governor) several times over the situation in the state as well as continued incarceration of Agba Jalingo but Ayade never bothered to respond.

“We are concerned that Agba Jalingo’s trial falls short of international standards of fairness, especially because the court has allowed witnesses to be masked and trial to be held in secret.

“The flawed charges and sham trial of Agba Jalingo had exposed the inadequacies and manipulation of the Nigerian criminal justice system and an unacceptable contempt for human rights and the rule of law.

“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 governor has, however, denied responsibility for the detention and trial of Jalingo.

Jalingo was first arraigned in August 2019 after a story he published on how Ayade allegedly approved and diverted N500 million meant for Cross River State Microfinance Bank.

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