The ECOWAS Court of Justice in Abuja has on Friday has asked the Nigerian Government to pay a journalist, Agba Jalingo, N30 million as compensation for ill-treating and torturing him while in detention.
In the ruling of the court case filed by Socio-Economic Rights Accounatability Projects (SERAP) on behalf of Jalingo, the court said there were not justification of the illegal detention, and brutal treatment of the journalist.
The ECOWAS court condemned the torture meted out to Jalingo, saying it was against international human rights treaties.
It ordered the Federal Government to pay the N30 million compensation to Jalingo within three months and file a process regarding it at the court.
The judgment followed the suit filed by SERAP against the Nigerian government and Cross River State Government to ECOWAS Court over the prolonged, arbitrary detention; unfair prosecution; persecution, and sham trial of Jalingo.
The judgment read, “Agba Jalingo was arrested and chained to a deep freezer for about 34 days without being charged to court, brutalized and dehumanized. 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, 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.”
Reacting to the judgment, Solicitor to SERAP, Femi Falana, said, “In view of the ongoing brutalisation of hapless Nigerian citizens by the police and other security agencies, this judgment could not have come at a more opportune time than now.”
“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.”
Jalingo, who is the publisher of CrossRiverWatch, was arrested on August 22 over a report alleging that the Governor of Cross River, Ben Mr Ayade diverted N500 million belonging to the state.