By Akanimo Sampson
Concerns have started to grow in Cross River State about the safety of the State Chairman of the opposition African Action Congress (AAC), Agba Jalingo, who was arrested around 2:00PM on Thursday in his Lagos residence.
Before his arrest, Police operatives had allegedly gone to the office of his wife, Mrs Violet Agba on Thursday morning where she bakes and sells pastries and seized the phones of all staff present and ordered them to show to them Jalingo’s residence.
Though they initially resisted, things allegedly took a turn for the worse when their movement was restricted by the heavily armed policemen. Eventually, one buckled under pressure and took them to his residence.
She knocked and upon recognising her voice, the AAC chieftain and critic of the Governor Ben Ayade administration was said to have opened the door and the policemen grabbed him.
Our correspondent gathered that the policemen told him that they were ordered to take him to their office from where he will proceed to Calabar, the Cross River state capital, this Friday.
Jalingo who is also the publisher of CrossRiverWatch, an online news portal, was said to be taken to the Intelligence Response Team (IRT) unit in Ikeja, the Lagos State capital, where he was detained after his arrest on Thursday.
Sources say he was arrested in connection with the invitation the police in Calabar recently served him. He had reportedly replied the invitation and allegedly reached an agreement with the police that he will report on Monday, August 26.
Those following his arrest in Lagos said the AAC chieftain was billed to depart Lagos by road by 3am. But Jalingo was said to be insisting that he can not travel by road to Calabar, that his captors should fly him. Apparently not prepared for such a luxury, the police were adamant that the trip should be by road.
Meanwhile, Chairman of the Association of Cross River Online Journalists (ACROJ), Edem Darlington says: ‘’We have been reliably informed that the they have concluded plans to move him to Calabar by road.
‘’We are aware that this is not unconnected with the recent invitation extended to him by the Police Command in the State over a publication about the Cross River State Microfinance bank, a matter which both parties agreed to meet on Monday 26/08/2019.
‘’It is worrisome that while the Police in the State agreed to Mr. Jalingo’s request to meet on 26/08/2019, they still went ahead and facilitated his illegal arrest in Lagos three days before the date he agreed to honour their invitation.
‘’ACROJ strongly condemn this gestapo and undemocratic manner employed by the Police to intimidate and stampede journalists back into the dark era. We will employ every legal means possible to resist this kind of intimidation and harassment by certain undemocratic elements masquerading in democratic toga.
‘’While we call on the Inspector General of Police to beam his search light into the level of harassment, intimidation and rampant illegal detention of journalists going on in Cross River State, we also wish to inform the IGP to ensure that nothing happens to Mr. Jalingo.
‘’Finally, we will ensure we collaborate with all our international partners, press freedom lovers and supporters all over the world to draw attention to the level of violation of human rights and freedom of the press in the State.
‘’The power of the pen is mightier than the sword and must prevail above the wishes of a few greedy.’’