Worried by the continued detention and trial of journalist and human rights activist, Agba Jalingo, in Calabar, Cross River State, the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) has called on the state Governor, Ben Ayade, to drop all charges against him and restore his freedom.
Similarly, friends, relatives and colleagues of Jalingo staged a protest at the Federal High Court last Wednesday and Thursday when the matter came up for hearing, demanding the release of Jalingo.
Jalingo, who is the publisher of CrossRiverWatch, has been behind bars for two months. He is facing charges of treasonable felony, terrorism and attempt to topple the Cross River State government. Justice Simon Amobeda of the Federal High Court sitting in Calabar has denied him bail.
In a letter to the governor by the NUJ dated September 26, 2019, with reference number NUJ/NS/10/P/1/VOL .1, and signed by the National Secretary, Shu’aibu Usman Leman, the organisation said it was worried that “a harmless publication” attracted such response from the state government.
The letter titled, ‘Drop Charges Against Agba Jalingo’, noted that the charges “are not only incongruous but portray Nigeria in bad light before the international community.”
The state government through the Special Adviser Media and Publicity to the Governor, Christian Ita, has denied government’s involvement in Jalingo’s matter, saying the case was between him and the police.
Daily Mail OnLine reports Jalingo is a critic of Cross Riverw state governor, Ben Ayade, who he criticised for looting the state using fictitious projects such as the garment factory.