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Governor Ayade Awarded Best Governor, Despite Press Freedom Abuse

A journalism outfit known as the Daily Independent Newspaper has awarded Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State the ‘Best Governor in 2019,’ despite his role in stifling the free press in Cross River State.

Governor Ayade received the notification of the award from the Managing Director & Editor-in-Chief of Independent Newspaper Limited, Mr Steve Omanufeme, on Monday in his office at the Government House, Calabar.

The award comes on the heels of the Governor’s role in the incarceration of journalist and publisher of Cross River Watch, Agba Jalingo, over reports alleging the diversion of N500m meant for the establishment of the Cross River Microfinance Bank.

Following his report, Agba Jalingo was arrested in August 2019 on the orders of the Ayade-led Cross River State Government and charged with treason, terrorism and cybercrime.

Agba Jalingo’s continued detention drew the attention of the human rights community, with the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and Amnesty International Nigeria, calling for his unconditional release and an end to the “sham trial” orchestrated by President Muhammadu Buhari and the Cross River State Governor, Ben Ayade.

He was released after meeting his bail conditions on Monday, having spent 179 days in police custody and later at the Custodial Centre, Calabar.

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