Agba Jalingo, a journalist and publisher of CrossRiverWatch who has been in police detention for over a week, over a report about an alleged diversion of N500 million by the Cross River governor, has been charged with treason.
Mr Jalingo who runs a Cross River State-based newspaper, was arrested and detained over a petition by the government’s owned microfinance bank following the report in his newspaper.
The report was titled: “How Ayade approved and diverted N500million for Cross River Micro Finance”
Mr Jalingo’s newspaper has relentlessly criticised Ben Ayade, the state governor.
The journalist who was arrested in Lagos and driven by road to Calabar, the capital city of the Cross River State, had sued the police over his arrest and detention, which he said were illegal and a breach of his fundamental human rights.
The charges which were filled at the Federal High Court in Calabar, also indicated that Mr Jalingo was working with the #RevolutionNow movement of the detained publisher of Sahara Reporters, Omoyele Sowore, to destabilise the government and “undemocratically” force the government of Mr Ayade to end through violent means.
The first count of the suit filed on August 30, claimed that Mr Jalingo carried out acts of treasonable felony by using his newspaper to instigate the removal of the state governor
The second charge alleged that through the publication of the story titled: “How Ayade approved and diverted N500million for Cross River Micro Finance”, the journalist intended to “cause alarm, hatred and disturb public peace in Calabar.
Mr Jalingo was also accused of working with Mr Sowore, Ekanem Ekpo, and others at large of terrorism. The charge did not, however, state the specific act of terrorism the accused was involved in.
Monday Ubani, counsel to Mr Jalingo, in a statement on Saturday, described the charges as “contrived” We must resist Nigeria being governed like a banana republic or like a dictatorship. Nigerians are awake!”