The Free Jalingo Group has slammed Cross River State governor, Ben Ayade, for lying on national television about detained journalist, Agba Jalingo. 

Jalingo was arrested in August 2019 for exposing the disappearance of N500m meant for the establishment of Cross River State Microfinance Bank. 

He was arrested shortly after that period and charged for terrorism. 

In a statement on Wednesday, the group said it was shocked to see Governor Ayade on Channels Television  trying to change the narrative over the arbitrary detention of Jalingo, who is the Publisher of Cross River Watch.

The statement reads, "Ayade made a false claim that Mr Agba Jalingo had admitted the treason charges against him in court. 

"This is a lie told to sway public opinion and defame Jalingo. 

"The court records are there to prove that what the governor said never happened.

"In fact, the trial of Agba Jalingo is yet to commence. How could a plea of guilt be entered when there hasn’t been a trial yet?

"He also told the public that belonging to a political party in whatever capacity precludes Mr Jalingo from being a journalist. 

"Without a doubt, this is a baseless accusation. There is no law which says that journalists cannot participate in politics. 

"Governor Ayade also claimed that he has been providing financial support to Cross River Watch, an online blog founded and run by Agba Jalingo. Again, this is false. 

"Cross River Watch was launched on August 27, 2012 with an office along IBB way in Calabar. Another office apartment was rented along Ndidem Usang-Iso Road, Calabar in 2013. At the time the management and staff of Cross River Watch moved into the new office in 2014, Mr Ayade was still a senator. He had no cause to and never did provide any financial support. 

"At that time, he rather sought to counter the critical stance of Cross River Watch by sponsoring the founding of other online blogs with the sole purpose of discrediting Cross River Watch and thereby dissuade it from publishing news items that were perceived as anti-government."

Free Jalingo Group also debunked claims by Ayade that he had been feeding and supporting the detained journalist for the five months he had been in jail. 

It called on the governor to publicly prove his claims.

The group called on Nigerians and international community to force the governor to release the journalist, who they said had done nothing wrong other than reporting the truth.

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