Cross River governor, Ben Ayade, has finally spoken about the continuous detention of Agba Jalingo, a Nigerian journalist who is standing treason trial for criticising the governor.
Mr Jalingo, the publisher of CrossRiverWatch, was arrested on August 22 over a report alleging that Mr Ayade diverted N500 million belonging to the state.
“In court, it is Federal Government versus Agba Jalingo, not Cross River State,” Ayade told Journalists on Monday at the presidential villa, Abuja, where he went to meet President Muhammadu Buhari.
“He’s in court for treason, a state does not have power to try anyone for treason, it’s not me.”
Mr Ayade said the journalist’s arrest and trial is in connection with Omoyele Sowore’s #RevolutionNow protest.
“On his Facebook page, he sent pictures where he was being teargassed at the revolution march in Lagos. His own pictures, posted by himself and when Sowore was being arrested, he went back to his Facebook to post that the revolution has just started, ‘we will continue this battle until revolution works’. He admitted this in Court,” Mr Ayade said.
“You are seeing him as a journalist, but he’s not, he’s the chairman of Sowore’s party in Cross River State so he’s a politician. He has a primary calling, which is journalism.
“Once he started the campaign to overthrow the government of President Buhari, he ceased to be seen from the point of journalist because he has become the state chairman of a party.”
Governor Ayade, however, says he has been working for Mr Jalingo’s release from Calabar prison where he has been incarcerated.
“I am of the opinion that Agba should be released because I think he was just youthfully excited.
“If you ask Agba Jalingo today, I’m the one working with his lawyers for his freedom, I’m the one sustaining him and sending upkeeps,” he said.