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Nigerian publisher Agba Jalingo detained since August 22 without charge

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Nigerian authorities should immediately release publisher Agba Jalingo and halt their harassment of journalists reporting on alleged corruption and other issues of public interest, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

On August 22, in Lagos, police officers with Nigeria’s special anti-robbery squad arrested Jalingo, publisher of online news outlet CrossRiverWatch, according to Attah Ochinke, Jalingo’s lawyer, and Jeremiah Achibong, an editor at CrossRiverWatch, who spoke with CPJ over the phone.

On August 23, authorities transferred Jalingo to a detention facility run by the anti-cult and anti-kidnapping police in Calabar, the capital of Nigeria’s southern Cross River state, and are holding him there without charge, Ochinke said.

“Nigerian authorities should immediately release Agba Jalingo and permit CrossRiverWatch journalists to cover issues in their state without harassment,” said Angela Quintal, CPJ’s Africa program coordinator, in New York. “The arrest and intimidation of journalists in Nigeria for their critical reporting is unacceptable, as is holding Jalingo for days without charge.”

Before his arrest, Jalingo told CPJ over the phone that, on August 16, he was invited for questioning by police officers in Calabar over a complaint brought by the state-owned Cross River Microfinance Bank. On July 17, CrossRiverWatchhad reported on alleged corruption involving the bank and Benedict Ayade, the governor of Cross River state.

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According to a copy of the police invitation, which CPJ reviewed, Jalingo was summoned because his name was mentioned in a police investigation of “Conspiracy to cause Unrest and Conduct likely to Cause Breach of Peace, reported by the Cross River Microfinance Bank.”

The invitation requested Jalingo attend an interview with Calabar police on August 19. Jalingo told CPJ he informed the police that he would honor the invitation when he returned to Cross River state on August 26. Police arrested him in Lagos on August 22.

Achibong and CrossRiverWatch reporter Ugbal Jonathan told CPJ that they believe Ayade is retaliating against CrossRiverWatch for the outlet’s critical reporting. Achibong and Jonathan were both arrested in Cross River state earlier this month, according to CPJ reporting.

In a phone conversation with CPJ, Christian Ita, Ayade’s spokesperson, declined to comment on CrossRiverWatch’s corruption allegations and said he read in the press that Jalingo’s arrest was related to his alleged involvement in the #RevolutionNow protests, held on August 5, and denied Ayade’s involvement in the arrest.

CPJ’s calls to the Cross River state police commissioner, Austin Agbonlahor, and his spokesperson, Irene Ugbo, went unanswered. A member of the board of the Microfinance Bank, Godwin Akwaji, told CPJ via phone that he was not in position to speak about the corruption allegations or the bank’s allegations against Jalingo.

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Lagos govt. approves full reopening of churches, mosques

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The Lagos state government on Saturday approved the full reopening of worship centres in the state.

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who announced this during a briefing in the state said churches are now allowed to observe their mid-week services, while the mosques are also allowed to carry out their five times a day prayer routine, with strict compliance to COVID-19 safety protocols.

“We must not forget that the coronavirus pandemic is still very much with us, and we must, therefore, strive to prioritize the safety of all our children, teachers, parents, and the entire society,” the governor said.

Before now, the state had allowed for a gradual re-opening of places of worship as lockdowns eased.

With the full re-opening now, the governor has urged Lagosians to continue to act responsibly and maintain the required levels of hygiene.

Some other parts of the world have witnessed a resurgence of COVID-19 infections and rising possibilities of “hard lockdowns”, which according to Governor Sanwo-Olu may become inevitable for Nigerians if caution is not applied.

“Let me make it clear that if we do not continue to maintain our guard, and sustain the adherence to all required protocols and guidelines, we will find ourselves in a situation where fresh lockdowns are inevitable,” he warned.

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“The only way to avoid this is to continue to act responsibly: maintain the required levels of hygiene, through regular handwashing and use of sanitizers, wear masks in all public places, avoid non-essential public gatherings, and maintain the prescribed levels of physical distancing at all times”.

The total infections in the country have now risen to 56,956, with 48,305 patients recovered and 1,094 deaths recorded.

At the onset of the virus in Nigeria, Lagos became the epicenter, gapping other states with its case load despite frantic efforts to curb the spread.

However, in recent times, other states such as Plateau have started to witness a surge with the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 stating that it might become the new epicenter in the country.

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Photos: Oyo deputy gov. donates patrol motorcycles to security operatives

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The deputy governor of Oyo state, Engr. Raufu Olaniyan on Friday made a personal donation of patrol motorcycles to security operatives in Oke Ogun area of the state to boost their role of ensuring the safety of lives and properties.

Speaking at the event, Olaniyan noted  that Security is one of the cardinal objectives of the present administration headed by Governor Seyi Makinde, adding that the government has invested massively to provide facilities and equipment for security operatives in the state to perform their roles.

Speaking further, the deputy governor remarked that ” In the light of the security challenges in the country, it is imperative that we support the government in tackling this malady. It was therefore a delight for me to donate patrol motorcycles, from my purse, to the various security outfits operating in the Oke Ogun area of our state.”

He stressed that security matters should be the responsibility of all and not the government alone.

Olaniyan, however , urged well meaning individuals and lovers of peace to support the government in creating a safe and conducive environment for growth.

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Yorubas will resist arrest of proponents of Oodua Republic – Group

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Groups under the aegis  of Yoruba Frontier Movement (YFM) on Thursday called on President Muhammadu Buhari to resist from using security agencies to harass, intimidate or arrest proponents of Oodua Republic.

YFM in a statement made available to journalists by its National Coordinator, Comrade Abdulkabir Adesina and National Secretary, Aderemi Adisa condemned the plan by security agencies to arrest proponents of Oodua Republic, saying that such action will only lead to breakdown of law and order.

The statement read, “We have received reports that there are plans by security agencies to arrest proponents of Oodua Republic headed by Chief Sunday Igboho. We are using this medium to call on President Muhammadu Buhari to order security agencies to desist from such attempts because proponents of Oodua Republic are operating within the ambit of the law of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

The group wondered why proponents of Oodua Republic have become the target of security agencies while Fulani herdsmen and bandits have remained untouchable.

“We should even go down memory lane. President Muhammadu Buhari while desperately seeking to become Nigeria’s president made many inciting statements capable of bringing anachy into the country but ex- President Jonathan never ordered for his arrest. On many occasions northern youths and elders have made similar inciting statements and heaven didn’t come down. As a matter of fact we have been calling for restructuring of Nigeria for a very long time.The failure of government to restructure Nigeria is the reason why we are calling for Oodua Republic. Yorubas have suffered greatly since the amalgamation of the country in 1914 owing to injustice against Yoruba race in Nigeria. As a race we have every right to demand for our right to either stay with Nigeria or go our separate ways”, the statement added.

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It further lauded  Chief Sunday Igboho for taking the bull by the horn, saying that Yorubas are fully in his support.

“We are using this medium to call on traditional rulers, Obas , leaders and all Yoruba sons and daughters to support the proponents of Oodua Republic”, the statement concluded.

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