Cross River State Governor Ben Ayade has expressed his desire to see the publisher of Cross River Watch, Agba Jalingo being released months after being arrested and arraigned on charges of treason.
Ayade who denied having a hand in the arrest and trial of the journalist, alleged that Agba Jalingo is being prosecuted by the Federal Government and not.
Speaking to newsmen after a meeting with President Buhari at the statehouse in Abuja on Monday, January 27, Ayade accused Jalingo of leaving journalism to meddle into politics as he disclosed that his arrest and trial is connected to Omoyele Sowore’s #RevolutionNow protest.
He added that after Jalingo joined the protest, he stopped being seen as a journalist but as someone who is plotting to overthrow President Buhari’s government.
Ayade said; “In court, it is Federal Government versus Agba Jalingo, not Cross River State. He’s in court for treason, a state does not have the power to try anyone for treason, it’s not me.
“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.
“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 a journalist because he has become the state chairman of a party. ”
The Cross River State Governor also blamed the journalist’s activism on youthful exuberance as he expressed the desire to see him released. He also claimed that he is working with Jalingo’s lawyer to secure his release.
Ayade added; “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 am the one working with his lawyers for his freedom, I am the one sustaining him and sending upkeeps.”
Before Ayade’s recent comment, it was reported that Agba Jalingo is standing trial over his report which suggested that the Cross River State Governor diverted N500 million meant for the state. His trial was on November 2019 listed among 10 “most urgent” cases of threats to press freedom around the world.