The Committee to Protect Journalists on Thursday called on Nigerian authorities to drop all charges against Agba Jalingo, the publisher of the privately owned news website CrossRiverWatch, and set him free.
Jalingo is set to appear at a federal high court in Calabar city tomorrow on amended charges, including cybercrime relating to his outlet’s reporting on Cross River Governor Benedict Ayade, and terrorism, according to a charge sheet, which CPJ reviewed, and Jalingo’s lawyer, Attah Ochinke, who spoke to CPJ in a phone interview.
“The ongoing, opaque prosecution of Agba Jalingo for his journalism remains a grave display of the threats journalists face working in Nigeria,” said Angela Quintal, CPJ’s Africa program coordinator.
“Nigerian authorities should drop the charges against Jalingo, stop using cybercrime and anti-terrorism legislation to silence the press, and reform these laws to ensure they cannot be used against journalists”. Angela added.
Jalingo has been jailed since August 22, 2019, when he was arrested and initially charged with disturbance of public peace and treason, as CPJ documented at the time. In October 2019, he was denied bail and a federal high court in Calabar blocked public access to the courtroom and granted anonymity to individuals expected to present evidence against him, a move his lawyer said would limit the defense’s ability to challenge false testimony, CPJ reported at the time. Jalingo currently has another bail application pending, Ochinke said.
We didn’t disobey Makinde’s shutdown order- Oyo Revenue boss reacts
The Oyo State Internal Revenue Service (OYSIRS) on Tuesday said its attention has been drawn to reports criticising its decision that its top management staff offer skeletal services to the public during the period of government shutdown.
A statement by the Executive Chairman of the Oyo State Bureau of Internal Revenue, Aremo John Adeleke revealed that the offer of service by the senior management is voluntary and without any coercion.
According to Aremo Adeleke, the decision was meant to ease public agony and inconveniences; especially in areas such as filing of tax returns by companies; registration of new vehicles; renewal of expired vehicle documents; remittances of monthly PAYE and other due taxes as well as any emergency requests for tax clearance certificates.
“These are essential services which must be provided, remembering that unlike Lagos, Ogun and Abuja, Oyo State is not on total lockdown yet,’’ the statement read.
The statement read in part: ‘’To enable our management staff discharge this skeletal duty adequate healthcare provisions have been made in our offices and the few staff involved in the skeletal services are under strict COVID-19 health guidelines. Which means at all times the management of the Service is mindful of keeping our staff save.
“We are aware we are in a time of a ruinous pandemic which necessitated the government shutdown in the first place.
“Contrary to the viewpoint of detractors and mischief makers, the attempt and sacrifices by the senior management of the OYSIRS to do its bit to enhance the resource capacity of OYSG to cope with its gargantuan responsibilities connected to handling the COVID-19 emergency.
“It is obvious that the good intention of the BIR, which is aimed at helping the state cushion the effects of the COVID 19 emergency was being misinterpreted by a few
“Let it be said that important organs of government, such as OYSIRS, cannot completely shut down even in times of crisis.
We are not unaware of the antecedent of the opposition in the state who would prefer to grind the entire machinery of a caring government such as GSM’s to a complete halt, just to paint a picture of inaction, but our people are wiser than such petty antics.
“It is also true that with the support of the Ministry of Finance, we have made progress and made a difference in our attempt to re-engineer the process of revenue collection at OYSIRS. Still digital machines, IT solutions and robust applications don’t operate themselves, hence we need that vital few among our management staff for difficult times like we are. And we are sure this difficult time will not last.
“We want to assure the entire citizenry of Oyo State, especially the families of our senior staff at OYSIRS, that the health and well-being of our staff is paramount to us and we will not execute any policy that will put them in harms way now or in the future.
“We will continue to observe closely all developments regarding the present pandemic and religiously adhere to all directives of His Excellency the Governor and the COVID-19 management team in Oyo State.
“We, however reassure all our management staff who have diligently been participating in offering the skeletal services to remain assured that their sweat will not go unnoticed.”
Lock down order takes effect, Lagos-Ibadan expressway blocked
The police have blocked the inbound and outbound sections of the Lagos-Ibadan express way as part of plans to effectively lock down the Lagos metropolis.
President Muhammadu Buhari, in line with local and global best practices for curbing the spread of COVID-19 had earlier gave this directive .
The President, in his nationwide broadcast on Sunday, ordered that a total lock down be observed in two states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), in a bid to combat the virus.
The President directed the cessation of all movements in Lagos and the FCT for an initial period of 14 days with effect from 11pm on Monday, 30th March 2020.
Based on the advice of the Federal Ministry of Health and the NCDC, the President also extended the restriction to Ogun State due to its close proximity to Lagos and the high traffic between the two States.
In line with the President’s order, security operatives have taken to the streets to ensure that the curfew is obeyed.
It is expected that the containment period would be used to identify, trace and isolate all individuals that have come into contact with confirmed cases.
Nigeria: Undisrupted financial services during COVID-19 lockdown
It will be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari had issued a directive restricting the movement of people – excluding those on essential service – with effect from 11pm on Monday, March 30, 2020, in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Lagos and Ogun States, as a response to the corona virus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Subsequently, the Minister of Finance, Budget and Planning and the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria obtained Presidential approval to permit critical financial services to function during this period.
Consequently, relevant security agencies have been requested to grant passage to critical staff of these institutions to enable essential and strategic financial transactions to go undisrupted during the period of the lockdown. These institutions include:
i. The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN);
ii. Deposit Money Banks (DMBs);
iii. The Nigeria Interbank Settlement System (NIBSS) Plc;
iv. Switching companies,
v. Mobile money operators,
vi. Payment solution service providers.
In view of the ongoing restrictions and in order to check further spread of the corona virus disease, the CBN hereby urges the general public to limit their use of cash and avail themselves of the use of alternative payment channels such as mobile banking, Internet banking, Mobile money, Point of Sale, and USSD. The public is therefore assured that financial institutions will remain operational during this period and therefore should guard against panic withdrawals from their banks.
We also urge all Nigerians to adhere strictly to the movement restrictions and follow stipulated guidelines by the Federal Ministry of Health, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and other relevant health agencies of government to curb possible spread of the virus in Nigeria.
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