Agba Jalingo, Publisher of Cross River Watch, was arrested on August 22, 2019, following a report he published on July 12, 2019, questioning the whereabouts of N500m approved for the establishment of Cross River State Microfinance Bank.
In the article, Jalingo said the micro-finance bank had been rendered non-functional as money earmarked to start its operation was not released.
Before his arrest, the police invited him after receiving a petition by the bank stemming from his report.
Jalingo had informed the police he was out of the state and the invitation was moved to August 26, 2019.
However, he was arrested by the police outside Cross River State four days before the scheduled date.
He was arrested in Lagos, blindfolded, tortured and taken to Cross River State by road where he was handcuffed to a refrigerator.
Below is a timeline of Jalingo’s arrest, detention and his eventual release on bail after 179 days in custody on Monday (today).
August 22: Police arrested Jalingo in Lagos.
August 23: Jalingo was transferred to a detention facility run by the anti-cult and anti-kidnapping police in Calabar, the capital of Cross River State, and held him there without charge.
August 27: In response to his arrest and ongoing detention, Jalingo sued the Nigerian Police, seeking damages of N150m, citing wrongful imprisonment and mistreatment, and demanding his immediate release.
August 28: Committee to Protect Journalists pushed for the release of Jalingo after six days in detention without trial.
September 3: Police ordered to produce Jalingo in court.
September 8: GoFundMe account created for Jalingo.
September 9: Police seek frivolous court order to detain Jalingo for 90 days.
September 13: Police rushed Jalingo to hospital after his health conditioned worsened.
September 25: Jalingo arraigned for the first time in court after 33 days in detention.
October 4: Court denies Jalingo bail. The judge, Justice Simon Amobeda, held that there was no substantial evidence to prove that his health was failing and that his crimes carries a capital punishment.
October 24: Justice Simon Amobeda of the Calabar Federal High Court granted the prayer of the prosecution counsel to mask witnesses who will testify against Jalingo.
October 30: Wife of Jalingo made a public appearance saying she is disappointed in the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari for being against free speech and the shrinking of media and civic space.
October 30: Justice Amobeda for the second time dismissed the bail application of Jalingo.
November 2: Jalingo listed among most urgent cases of threats to press freedom suffered by journalists around the world.
December 2: Court attempts to bar journalists from witnessing and covering the trial of Jalingo.
December 4: PEN International, one of the world’s first international non-governmental organisations advocating for human rights, condemned the ongoing trial of Jalingo.
December 10: Jalingo sought the reassignment of his case to another judge. He claimed that Justice Amobeda was bent on killing him.
An audio was released where the judge was heard saying that Jalingo’s life was in his hands.
He added that the judge promised to treat him like Ken Saro-Wiwa by handing him a death sentence.
December 11: Justice Amobeda of the Calabar division of the Federal High Court recused from presiding over Jalingo’s case.
December 30: Igbo National council called for Jalingo’s release, says no offense in demanding accountability.
January 7: Nigerian students joined in the unconditional demand for the release of Jalingo.
January 13: After withdrawing from case, Justice Amobeda travelled with the case file of Jalingo instead of returning it to the Chief Judge.
January 27: Governor Ayade breaks silence, claims Jalingo tried to overthrow President Muhammadu Buhari and blackmail him.
February 1: Philip, sibling of Jalingo died.
February 2: Ayade apologizes for lying against Jalingo that he attempted to overthrow Buhari.
February 5: Officers of the Nigerian Correctional Service failed to produce Jalingo in court for the continuation of his case prompting the judge to adjourn the case.
February 6: Amnesty International accuses Nigerian Government, Cross River State of manipulating justice system to keep Jalingo in prison perpetually.
February 13: Jalingo appears before a new judge after Justice Simon Amobeda recused himself twice from the case. The new judge, Justice Sule Shuaibu, is the administrative judge of the Calabar division of the Federal High Court.
February 13: Jalingo granted bail.
February 17: Jalingo perfect bail condition and walks home a free man.