The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Court of Justice sitting in Abuja has awarded N30 million compensation against the Federal Government for the publisher of a privately-owned news website, CrossRiverWatch, Agba Jalingo, for the journalist ill-treating and torturing while in detention in Cross River state.
The court held that the N30 million compensation was for violating Jalingo’s human rights, reparation for inhuman treatment, torture meted out to him while in detention, stating that the government must comply with the order within three months, and file a court process to its effect.
The court ruling followed for compensation followed the hearing of arguments from Solicitor to Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), Femi Falana SAN, and lawyers to the government, Abdulahi Abubakar, and A. A. Nuhu, on Friday.
During the ruling, the court held that it was established that Jalingo was arrested and chained to a deep freezer for about 34 days without being charged to court, brutalized, and dehumanized. According to the court, We have looked at the evidence before us and there was no answer as to the facts that Jalingo was arrested and illegally detained, brutalized, and dehumanized.
“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 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 ruled.
Reacting to the judgment, Femi Falana, said that the judgment was appropriate and would serve as deterrents to government agencies, particularly security agents to desists from violating Nigerians human rights.
“It is to be hoped that the Federal and state governments and all law enforcement agencies will study the terms of the judgment and desist from further infringing on the human rights of the Nigerian people, including criminal suspects who are presumed innocent until the contrary is proved by the State.”
The judgment followed the suit filed by SERAP against the government of Nigeria and Cross River State Government to ECOWAS Court over the prolonged, arbitrary detention; unfair prosecution; persecution, and sham trial of Jalingo.
Jalingo, who is the publisher of CrossRiverWatch, was arrested on August 22 over a report alleging that Cross River State Governor, Ben Ayade, diverted N500 million belonging to the state.