|Comr Friday Inoyo stretches a protest banner|
30 December 2019
What may be described as the best interpretation of the Humanity-themed Carnival Calabar 2019 emerged on Saturday 28th December NEGROIDHAVEN can say authoritatively.
Camera shots on Saturday 28th December featured about three pictures of Nigerians resident and/or indigenous to Cross River brandishing large protest banners carrying the various inscriptions —’humanity is freedom. Free Agba Jalingo and Joseph Odok’; and ‘Free Agba Jalingo and Joseph Odok. End the injustice’. This was along the route of the largest street party in Africa. The implication is that Freedom/Passion 4 bands sharing the first position trophy and thus beating Masta Blasta 4th, Bayside 3rd and Seagull 2nd don’t compare to the protest: you cannot be talking about humanity and deprive Jalingo and Odok of the rights to freedom of expression and information etc.
On the eve of the 28th December, His Excellency the Executive Governor of Cross River State is reported to have said about humanity during the Miss Africa pageantry —’For me, I think the choice of humanity as a theme is to drive home a strong message. Humanity is insensitive to religion, colour, class and all discrimination. If we all know that we were born naked infants seeking succour and at death we are dead bodies. From simple Algebra, Calculus and any form of Arithmetic you choose to embark on. At birth we are equal and at death we are equal, so all of those who became dead at birth doesn’t really matter. The most important thing is the heart, the passion, the sense of oneness and feeling of humanity that you can provide a shoulder for your weaker brother to lean on. That you will give support and assistance to that one person who is needy. Let humanity be your religion’.
|Anthony Bissong Attah stretching the protest banner|
There’s been calls from numerous quarters especially international, national and local asking the Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River to wade into the release of the duo of journalist Agba Jalingo and Lawyer Joseph Odok.
Jalingo who was awarded the Gani Fawehinmi Award for integrity in absentia on Tuesday in Lagos, wrote an article in July demanding the whereabouts of the NGN500 million approved and released by the Cross River State government for the floating of the Cross River Microfinance bank.
He was initially invited by the Cross River State Police command in a letter dated August 14, 2019 to answer to a petition bordering on the article. The interview was slated for August 19. It was, however rescheduled for August 26 and later September 3rd 2019.
But, he was arrested in a gestapo styled operation at his Lagos residence on August 22nd after staff of his wife were held hostage for over four hours.
His arrest, subsequent incarceration and trial has been condemned by individuals, right groups and civil society organizations with Amnesty International declaring him alongside #RevolutionNow convener, Omoyele Sowore and pro democracy activist, Olawale Bakare as prisoners of conscience.
He was listed as one of the 10 most urgent cases of threats to press freedom by the One Free Press Coalition in October. The Cross River State government accused TIME, a member of that coalition which reported the story of practicing ‘gutter journalism.’
Also, the Cross River State government has been fingered by many as being behind his travails, an allegation the government has continuously denied.
Odok was arrested on September. They’ve been in detention since then and their trial has not commenced yet.