The Association of Cross River Online Journalists (ACROJ) says it is concerned for the health unlawful detention of the Publisher of CrossRiverWatch. Agba Jalingo, who was arrested in Lagos on 22 August and taken to Calabar.
“As the world marks the International Day for the Disappeared, we want to draw the attention of all Nigerians and indeed the whole world to the increasing hostility towards journalists and critics of the government in Cross River State,” the Association said in a statement, dated 30 August and signed by its chairman Edem Darlington and sent to The Daily Report.
The association accused the state government of deliberately suppressing the media, intimidating journalists in the process, adding that “Cross River State has taken a huge leap backwards in terms of the protection of journalists.”
It also blamed the state police command for its disregard of the constitution and the rights of Nigerians. The Police, t said, “is supposed to protect and uphold the integrity of our Constitution and the right of journalists; but it has rather taken the opposite seat [and] poses a great concern, which must not be overlooked.”
The rest of the statement reads: “We are concerned about the deteriorating health of Mr. Agba Jalingo. His hands and legs are swollen most likely due to handcuffs and solitary confinement as well as loss of appetite.
“Access to him has been largely controlled, while the few who have seen him have expressed concern over his health and called for him to have immediate access to his doctors.
“We call on the Inspector General of Police to urgently call the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Austin Agbonlahor, to order and redeploy him from the state and immediately set up a panel of inquiry to investigate the several complaints of human rights abuse under his watch.
“We therefore once again call for the immediate and unconditional release of Mr. Agba Jalingo.
“The world is watching.”