ElevateNews

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Agba Jalingo, Sowore And Power Drunk Leaders

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ElevateNews takes a look at the plight of journalists in the hands of the government.

In November 2018, it was the CNN that filed a lawsuit against the US President, Mr. Donald Trump and the White House for suspending its correspondent, Jim Acosta.

Trump and his media aide barred Costa from the White House coverage. The White House seized Costa press pass for asking Trump some probing questions. In this case, it was the CNN that felt betrayed.

Journalists are powerful over there but in Nigeria at present, media practitioners are being careful with what they write or say so as not to end up in police cell.

That is what the current government has turned journalism into. It is sad that Mr. Agba Jalingo, a journalist practising in Cross River State is now being treated like a common criminal because he had criticized the State Governor, Professor Ben Ayade.

Jalingo is being paraded in handcuff by the police to the court. He has become a subject of ridicule in the public space for practising his profession and holding the government responsible via his reports.

Ayade, a former teacher at the premier University of Ibadan, according to reports led the campaign against the then military regime for annulling the June 12, 1993 presidential election.

Even under the military, the professor enjoyed some fundamental human rights. He was not handcuffed by the military junta but today the former protester is the governor of a State and he is victimizing a journalist for criticizing his government.

This is a clear example of abuse of office and should be checked before it would spread to other State governors who now see themselves as King Kong.

About three years ago, one Mr. Habib Aruna, a Chief Press Secretary to the former Governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode barred some journalists from the Statehouse. His reason was that the governor might not need their service. His stance caused some ripples in the media houses but it stood.

The journalists were thrown out of the Statehouse but instead of their companies to sue just as CNN did, they compromised. Some of the editors are on the payroll of some State government and they dare not challenge its position.

Reporters who wrote against the government over their suspension by the CPS nearly lost their jobs with their companies. In 2012, the former Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babatunde Fashola did same to journalists and was hailed by some media companies, except the Punch Nigeria Limited who kicked against such draconian decision.

This political dispensation is dealing with journalists, including the Publisher of the online medium, Sahara Reporter, Mr. Omoyele Sowore who had been in the custody of the Department of State Service, DSS for over 50 days now.

Agreed, Sowore’s may have acted beyond reporting the activities of the government, the charges of treasonable felony against him for declaring a protest “#RevolutionNow” is more like a mockery of judicial system and process.

After he had been granted bail by the court, the DSS refused to release him. He was re-arraigned and was granted bail again on Thursday to the tune of N100 million and two sureties that have landed properties in Abuja.

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