30 December 2019
Asu Okang the Commissioner for Information and Cultural Orientation in Cross River State has replied Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka in respect of a statement credited to the latter saying the Cross River State Government CRSG committed treason in detaining journalist Agba Jalingo, renowned critic of Governor Ben Ayade. He reported that the sum of N500 million from the Cross River State Microfinance Bank was missing and demanded the whereabout.
Commissioner Okang distanced the state government from the arrest and trial of Jalingo. He proceeded to outline the achievements of the state government. Okang expressed his point recently in a social thread titled, RE: AGBA JALINGO'S TRIAL: THE STATE HAS COMMITTED TREASON – Soyinka.
His words, 'The Social Media, including the CROSS RIVER WATCH ONLINE, has been awash with a publication purportedly credited to the Nobel Laureate Prof. Wole Soyinka, in which he was reported to have declared that the on-going treason trial of Publisher of Cross River Watch – Mr. Agba Jalingo is a "dishonest device to silence people when a government has no more answers to give"; adding that "the State has committed treason"
'Our intention here is not to join issues with the reverred Literary icon and social commentor who we fully believe, by the provisions of the 1999 Constitution is entitled to his opinion on any issue of his interest, We are obligated in the general public interest to place the records straight to avoid being misinformed.
'Firstly, Cross River is one of the Federating States in the entity called Nigeria. The State is not a sovereign entity on her own and do not have any constitutional powers to commit anyone to trial for treasonable felony. Such powers are only vested on the Federal Government through the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice.
'In this case under reference, Agba Jalingo is being tried by the Nigeria Police Force at a Federal High Court only based in Calabar, both of which are Federal Government Agencies. Cross River State Government has no locus standi to interfer or intervene in the matter.
'Therefore, Mr Jalingo's trial is definitely not "a dishonest device to silience people when a government has no more answers to give".
Nobel Laurette, Professor Soyinka has described the ongoing treason trial of detained and Award winning journalist, Agba Jalingo, who is facing a four count trial of Treasonable Felony and attempt to topple the Cross River state government, at the Federal High Court in Calabar, South South Nigeria as a very dishonest attempt to silence the people by a government which has no more answers to give the citizenry.
Soyinka did this in an interview with NaijaInfo FM in Lagos. According to the literary giant 'I must tell you that I was horrified to read of treason charges been levelled against a citizen for criticising a state government. This was in the east. I'm speaking of Jalingo, whom I happen to, (I'm wondering, is it the same Agba Jalingo who worked with us in PRONACO? It must be the same person.)
'I wasn't aware that it's possible to commit treason against a State Government. And that obviously is an anomaly. It will be one of the most absurd political arrangement which made it possible for a non-sovereign government, because the state government is not a sovereign government; so how can you commit treason against a non-sovereign government, to begin with? And for me, in any case, I look more at the word treason as a crime which is committed against the people not just a contraption, a contraption is there, it's made out of the people, it represents the will of the people. So the expression treason for me is an anomaly. I cannot even grasp it. So obviously it's a device, a very dishonest device to silence people when a government has no more answers to give.'
Continuing he said, 'In that case the State should be accused of treason. It is the State in such circumstances which is for me, potentially guilty of treason because it's a travesty of justice. And there is no state or no government without a blimp of justice. Because, how can you be talking about a secret trial? Things are happening in this country which I am not aware. I mean this is news to me.'