A Civil Society Organization, Policy Alert has called on the Nigerian Police to release, with immediate effect , Agba Jalingo, a journalist and transparency activist who was arrested last week.
Jalingo was arrested by the police on the alleged orders of the Cross River State Governor, Ben Ayade, for asking questions on the spending of N500 million on a state owned microfinance bank.
The organization made the call in a statement issued on Friday in Calabar to mark the International Day of the Disappeared which is celebrated globally on August 30 of each year.
Human Rights Programme Officer of Policy Alert, Faith Paulinus, said: “There is a worrisome trend of enforced disappearances happening across the country right now.
“Civic space is being threatened, and it appears worse for those who speak up against public sector corruption, especially journalists and civil society activists.
“This is a dangerous precedent for all of us who are in the business of asking questions on public finance management, which should rightly be everybody’s business.
“It means we have become an endangered species. It appears that the disappearance of people with dissenting views is fast becoming state policy.”
Paulinus therefore added: “We call on the police to release Agba Jalingo immediately and stop acting like appendages of the state government.
“We also demand access to all political prisoners by their lawyers and family. As a civil society organization working to enthrone a regime of transparency and accountability in government, we refuse to cower at the current onslaught by the Nigerian state. This year’s International Day of the Disappeared provides an opportunity to drum this message to the world.”
The statement also added that the rising trend of enforced disappearances in the country will not deter the organisation from one of its core mission, which is to promote public accountability by exposing misuse of public trust and resources by public officers.
The International Day of the Disappeared is a day set aside to draw attention to the fate of individuals imprisoned at places and under poor conditions unknown to their relatives and/or legal representatives