For over 168 days, the publisher of an online newspaper, CrossRiverWatch, politician, and human rights activist, Comrade Agba Jalingo, has been incarcerated in Calabar. He always comes to court handcuffed and in prisons’ pick up van, dressed in blue jeans and grey-coloured shoes and black t-shirt, with the inscription ‘Dictators perpetually fear our pens’. Armed security agents guard him to ensure no escape for a man whose ‘weapon’ is the pen as the premises of the Federal High Court, Calabar, has a swarm of amour trucks and anti-riot tanks as if Boko Haram has relocated to Calabar.
However, what has characterized the trial of Jalingo so far has been the apparent contradiction on the part of Governor Ben Ayade and his government over the exact nature of Jalingo’s offence and trial. While only recently in Abuja Ayade denied his involvement in his trial, his Attorney-General, Tanko Ashang, has admitted that Cross River State was behind Jalingo’s trial for treason. Ashang informed the court that the state government was taking over the prosecution of Jalingo and had informed Justice Simon Amobeda who presides over Court 2 of the Calabar division of the Federal High Court that a letter to that effect had been filed and is in the records of the court.