Journalist arrested Over fake petition claiming he is an arms dealer

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By Wisdom Deji-Folutile

A journalist has been arrested by the Cross River State Command of the Nigeria Police Force over an unscrupulous claim that he is an arms dealer.

Agba Jalingo, a rights activist and Editor-in-Chief of CrossRiverWatch, has been detained by the police and is currently being questioned at the State Criminal Investigation Department in Cross River State.

Commissioner of Police, Kayode Sikiru, invited Jalingo to his office for an interview over the planned June 12 protests.

After the meeting, he asked Jalingo and Jonathan Ugbal, an editor for CrossRiverWatch, to ensure the planned action was peaceful.

The officer then took the duo in Charge of Intelligence, Cajethan Onwusor, to the State Intelligence Bureau office, where they were profiled.

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They were then asked to wait, and after over an hour, an unnamed official from the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department came and called the duo to his office.

Upon arrival, he called the Officer in Charge of the Human Rights Unit, Simeon Nwaguru, and told him, “see the two of them here….”

Simeon read a two-page document handed over to him by the unnamed officer and then called Jalingo and handed it over to him.

After glancing through, Jalingo turned, looked at Jonathan and said, “You were right, these people have cooked a petition that I am an arms dealer and the group has no physical address while the person who sent it did not sign and had no phone number.”

Efforts to reach the CP to inquire whether the invitation was for the purpose of the petition have failed so far, with police officers saying he had gone for prayers.

Jalingo was previously already facing trial for alleged acts of terrorism, treasonable felony and attempts to topple the Cross River State Government.

The claims were grounded on an article he wrote in June 2019, asking for the whereabouts of the N500m approved and released for the floating of the Cross River State Microfinance Bank.

The arrest, legal practitioners say, is in contravention of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, which states that unless one is caught in the act, one cannot be arrested until an investigation is concluded.

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