The Coalition for Whistleblowers Protection and Press Freedom (CWPPF) condemning the arrest of Nigerian journalists has called on the police to stop charging journalists with trumped-up criminal offences for holding the government accountable.
The coalition made the call in reaction to the arrest and detention Agba Jalingo, Publisher of CrossRiver Watch.
Jalingo was arrested on the 26th of August in Lagos state before he was moved to Cross River state and has since been charged with criminal offences after publishing an article exposing how Governor Ben Ayade approved and diverted N500 million meant for Cross River Micro Finance Bank.
He was arraigned at the federal high court in Calabar, on four counts bordering on “acts of treason, treasonable felony, and disturbance of public peace”.
The coalition, which consists of 17 media organizations and rights group, described the charges against Jalingo as absolute ridicule of the law and freedom of expression guaranteed by the Nigerian constitution.
The coalition also condemned the arrest and intimidation of journalists in the country.
A statement by the coalition said, “Nigerian journalists should not be charged with any trumped-up criminal offences for holding the government accountable, this is a constitutionally conferred responsibility. Such actions are absolute ridicule on the law and the freedom of expression, and the charges make absolute ridicule of the Nigerian legal system.
“The increasing attacks on journalists encroaches on the freedom of the press and it behooves the government and other stakeholders to conscientiously work towards laws and provisions that will guarantee the safety and security of journalists in the line of duty and in holding the government accountable.
“Failure to do this is a slight on any democratic society and a disservice to journalism, a profession that is fundamental to sustaining democracy.”
The CWPPFcalled on all relevant authorities to ensure justice is served in the case of “Jalingo and anyone or group of persons found complicit be tried to the full extent of the law and brought to book”.