Friday, 21 February 2020 12:34

I thought I would be in jail until end of Ayade’s tenure - Agba Jalingo

Agba Jalingo, publisher of CrossRiverWatch, says he thought he would be in jail until the end of Ben Ayade’s tenure as governor of Cross River.

He said the governor vowed to lock him up after he confronted him on the N4.3 billion local government funds he allegedly used for his campaign.

Speaking when he featured on a programme on TVC News, on Thursday, Jalingo said he knew he was in trouble after Ayade took offence to his question long before he was eventually arrested.

Christian Ita, the governor’s spokesman, is yet to react to the allegation.

Jalingo was arrested on August 22 after he published an article on how Ayade allegedly approved and diverted N500 million meant for Cross River State Microfinance Bank.

He was later charged to court for alleged conspiracy, terrorism, treasonable felony and attempt to topple the government of Cross River, and was detained for 174 days until he was granted bail.

Speaking during the programme monitored by TheCable, Jalingo tackled Ayade for denying he was behind his trial and shifting the responsibility to the federal government.

“It is cowardice to arrest a man and then turn around and deny you did not arrest him. I thought that he is a very courageous man. He is a professor, and should be able to own up to his actions,” he said.

“He promised he was going to arrest and lock me up long before August 22 when I was arrested, when I raised the issue of the N4.3 billion he withdrew from the local government funds to fund his campaign.

“When I asked him that question privately, he got upset with me and that was where my problem with him started.

“To be frank, the governor is my brother, and I supported his administration for four years. But after four years, I knew the governor did not have any direction. First and foremost, beginning with his budget titles…I knew he was not serious.”


Jalingo said his experience in prison was that of mixed feelings, and that he is writing a book on his days in custody.

“It (my experience) was mixed feelings; at one side of the coin, it was not fun, at the other side, it was a huge lesson,” he said.

“I think I went on a six months course, and I came back with a lot of experience. And on the other side, I must say that the conditions in prison are very horrifying, they are less than humane, and at the right time, we will begin to serialise our experience.”

The journalist said he is not afraid of going back to jail.

According to him, “my worst expectation was that I will be in jail for three years until Governor Ayade leaves office and I will be released. That was the worst I expected.

“I am actually not afraid of going back to jail. What I am afraid of is that at every point in time, Nigerians should be able to rise up to pay the price to defend this democracy.”

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