The Buhari administration has been fined N30 million by an ECOWAS court for the maltreatment of journalist Agba Jalingo in Cross River state.

The ruling was handed down today as a result of a litigation filed on Jalingo's behalf by SERAP.

“Agba Jalingo was arrested and shackled to a deep freezer for around 34 days without being charged to court, brutalised and dehumanised,” the court ruled in a ruling today. SERAP has taken this action on Jalingo's behalf in order to seek compensation from the court for the inhumane abuse and suffering he has received. We've examined the evidence in front of us. There was no response to the facts that Jalingo was held, brutalised, and dehumanised after being arrested and illegally detained.”

“This is in violation of international human rights treaties, including the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, to which Nigeria is a signatory. The Nigerian government has disobeyed the rules of these international treaties governing fair trials.”

“As a result of these factors, SERAP has been able to substantiate the claims for compensation for ill-treatment and torture. We condemn the Nigerian government's actions and award Mr. Jalingo N30 million in damages for violations of his human rights. Within three months, the Nigerian government must comply with the court's ruling and submit a petition in this court to that effect.”

“In light of the continued brutalization of hapless Nigerian people by the police and other security services, this judgement could not have come at a more opportune moment than now,” Femi Falana, SAN, remarked in response to the ruling.

“It is hoped that the Federal and state governments, as well as other law enforcement agencies, will examine the contents of the judgement and refrain from further infringing on the human rights of Nigerians, especially criminal suspects who are deemed innocent until proven guilty by the State.”

The ruling came after SERAP filed a lawsuit at the ECOWAS Court against the Nigerian government and Governor Ben Ayade's Cross River state government over Mr Jalingo's protracted, arbitrary arrest, unjust prosecution, persecution, and sham trial.

On August 22, Jalingo, the publisher of CrossRiverWatch, was detained on a report stating that Mr Ayade had syphoned N500 million from the state.

After hearing arguments from SERAP's Solicitor, Femi Falana SAN, and the government's lawyers, Abdulahi Abubakar and A. A. Nuhu, the court issued the reparation ruling.

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