‘Jalingo is being held for asking questions about the law school malpractice case’, Falana SAN calls for his immediate release

* Says defamation is not a criminal offense
* Calls it “The height of impunity in a democratic society”
* Says the arrest violates the ACJA

Leading human rights and constitutional lawyer Femi Falana SAN has called for the unconditional release of Cross River Watch activist and editor Agba Jalingo.

He noted that Jalingo had not committed any criminal offense and that the alleged defamation was not a crime.

The Nigerian lawyer learned that yesterday a police team dispatched from Abuja stormed the home of Agba Jalingo in Alapere, Ketu in Lagos State to arrest him.

After obtaining the information, The Learned Silk visited Jalingo at the F-area police station in Ikeja, where Jalingo was detained on Friday evening.

The activist and publisher of Cross River Watch was however transferred to Abuja on Saturday afternoon via Murtala Muhammed Airport in Ikeja, the capital of Lagos State.

Falana on Saturday, reacting to the harassment, said the action was official impunity in a democratic society.

He said that after hours of unwarranted harassment of his wife and children, police arrested Agba, dragged him outside and took him to Area F Police Command, Ikeja, in Lagos State, where he was held until this morning.

“I met him at the police station where he informed me that he had not committed any offense but that his newspaper, CrossRiverWatch, had only asked why a lecturer who took the exams of a student at the faculty of Nigerian law from Abuja has been taken to court while the student is treated like a sacred cow.

“The police officers corroborated his account and stated that the petitioner had alleged that Agba Jalingo had committed “defamation and attack on his integrity”, which does not constitute an offense under any provision of the Penal Code.

“Based on the information available to me, I was compelled to demand his unconditional release since he did not violate any provision of the Criminal Code.

“But the police informed me that his detention had been ordered by the authorities in Abuja.

“So at around 11am this morning he was airlifted out of Lagos and he is currently being held at the Criminal Investigation Department, Garki, Abuja.”

He further noted that Agba’s continued harassment based on the allegation that he defamed the wife of a sitting governor’s brother is the height of official impunity in a democratic society.

“Given that defamation is not a criminal offence, the action of the police is in clear breach of section 8(2) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 and section 32(2) of the Police Establishment Act 2020, which prohibited the police from arresting any person in Nigeria for civil misconduct or breach of contract.

“Therefore, the law enforcement authorities should release Agba Jalingo unconditionally and advise the petitioner to sue for defamation in a civil court.”

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