Alex Enumah in Abuja
The President of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Mr. Chris Isiguzo yesterday disclosed that the union would mobilise its members to attend the next court proceedings of the detained Cross River State-based journalist, Mr. Agba Jalingo.
Isiguzo said the move is to show solidarity to the plight of Jalingo, who has been in custody for over 170 days.
The NUJ president made the disclosure while speaking with journalists in Abuja on the level of preparations for the NUJ Press Freedom Awards 2020.
Responding to question from a journalist, Isiguzo said the body takes the issue of security, safety and freedom of its members in the discharge of their lawful duties very serious, hence its decision to attend the next court proceedings to show solidarity.
He said, “It is sad that Agba Jalingo is still in detention. We have spoken with the government of Cross River State and they told us that they are not the ones keeping him.
“However at the next court appearance I will be leading a delegation of journalists to show solidarity and demonstrate the fact that we are serious about the matter”.
Isiguzo added that further steps would also be pursued by the union to ensure Jalingo’s release from detention.
Jalingo is standing trial on a four-count criminal charge bordering on alleged acts of terrorism and cybercrime.
Though he pleaded not guilty to the charges he was however denied bail on two occasions.
Speaking on the NUJ Press Freedom Awards, the President said the event is to honour those who have contributed immensely to the growth and sustenance of press freedom in Nigeria.
“Many journalists in Nigeria have faced harassment, threat, physical injury, improvement and even death in the course of discharging their legitimate duties.
“It is the courage and sacrifice of these journalists that we are celebrating by organising the third edition of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) Press Freedom Awards 2020.
“The event will also honour media owners, corporations, political and public office holders who have actively supported press freedom in Nigeria”, he said.
Isiguzo however said because of funds constraint the body would need the partnership of lovers of press freedom to ensure a successful hosting of the event slated for May 5, 2020.