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Amnesty International has asked the federal government and Cross River government to drop treason and other charges against Nigerian journalist, Agba Jalingo.

Mr Jalingo, the publisher of CrossRiverWatch, was granted bail by the Federal High Court, Calabar, on February 13, and was eventually freed on February 17 after spending a total of 179 days in detention.

The journalist was arrested on August 22, 2019, over a report alleging that Cross River State governor, Ben Ayade, diverted N500 million belonging to the state.

“We again call on FG & Cross River to drop all the bogus charges against him,” Amnesty said in a tweet on February 17.

The human rights group was at the forefront of the campaign for the release of Mr Jalingo which it declared a Prisoner of Conscience in November 2019.

“He (Jalingo) should never have been arrested in the first place,” another group, Socio-Economic Right and Accountability Project (SERAP), said in a tweet. “All the charges against him must be immediately dropped.”

SERAP said it was pleased that Mr Jalingo was re-united with his family and friends.

PEN International, an organisation which “promote literature and defend freedom of expression worldwide”, also called on the Nigerian authorities to drop charges against Mr Jalingo.

Meanwhile, Mr Jalingo has thanked human rights groups and Nigerians for campaigning for his release from the prison.

“I have seen plenty of what you did for me while I was away and there is more I am yet to see,” Mr Jalingo said in a message he personally issued immediately he left the prison.

“There is also plenty I may never see but for all that you did, I will always be grateful and mindful of. I will always remember that the little work that I have chosen to do means a lot to so many people out there and I should always be responsible.

“I really wish I could name you all, but you are too many to be named in this short thank you note. I am grateful to God I came out without hurt. There is no turning back on our mission to continue to ask government at all levels questions. That is not contestable. That is the work we all have to do and that is what we will continue to do moving forward,” he said.

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