Jalingo, the publisher of the CrossRiverWatch, was arrested on August 22, 2019, and thereafter, detained at the Afokang Prison, Calabar, where he had spent 179 days on charges bordering on terrorism and treason.
Jalingo, however, said his arrest was connected to a report by his newspaper, questioning the sum of N500 million allegedly awarded by the Cross River governor, Ben Ayade for the establishment of the state’s microfinance bank.
The bank had not commenced any financial activities, months after it was established, hence the need for the publication.
While in detention, various human rights groups, stakeholders, international bodies and Nigerians had relentlessly demanded his release.
Jalingo eventuallly regained freedom after spending nearly six months in detention, having met the bail condition of N10 million bail.
His appreciation message contained in a statement dated February 19, where he thanked all who had taken various steps in facilitating his release.
“The next 179 days proved to be more dramatic and intense for me as it curved for learning, and painfully too, that the gains made since Nigeria’s return to democracy for the fourth republic were quickly thrown out a cup-sized window, in a manner too ridiculous to glorify with thoughts of or try to be more explicit with words.
“But, this message is not to cast thoughts to that dark stain in our collective memories as it will be a terrible move to recall insults to our intelligence, the actions and inactions of those whom we presumed leaders but found out and regrettably so, were little aspiring napoleons (with a small ‘n’) who robed themselves as philosophical elites to rise to positions of authority.
“This message is to say ‘THANK YOU’ to all who saw through the faćade, manipulations and circumvention of our justice system and knew that we were being dragged into the abyss oft termed ‘banana republic’ after painfully crawling away from it.
“From those who never knew the name to the media, civil society organizations, non-governmental organizations, unions, ministers in the temple of justice, corporations, influencers and individuals who through their thoughts, prayers, discourse, reportage, memos, actions, inactions, statements, physical meet and greets as well as electronic clicks, from the four walls of my physical prison to the world, asked questions about my ordeal…
“…The phrase ‘THANK YOU’ does not encompass my GRATITUDE for your decisions to ask questions, seek actions among others which led to the historic Court order of Thursday, February 13, 2020, which eventually manifested on Monday, February 17, 2020,” Jalingo said.
Beyond appreciation, Jalingo emphasized the role of the media in holding leaders accountable while promoting “efforts that can grow our ailing democracy and prevent this slide into anarchy occasioned by the actions of a privileged few”.
Jalingo also appreciated media practitioners across the country, whose efforts aided his freedom, and charged them to remain committed to the ideal of just society.
“We will not slow on our efforts to ensure we achieve a truly egalitarian society despite the threats of those whose response to intellectual debates is their base instincts to self-preserve by attacking, and shamelessly so,” he said.