Friday, 4 October 2019

Court Refuses To Grant Journalist Agba Jalingo Bail


ournalist and human rights activist, Agba Jalingo, was taken back into custody on Friday as a Federal High Court sitting in Calabar and presided over by Justice Simon Amobeda denied him bail.

Jalingo was arrested in Lagos by operatives attached to the Intelligence Response Team of the Nigerian Police on August 22, 2019, and arraigned on September 25, 2019, on a four-count of treasonable felony, terrorism and attempt to topple the Cross River State Government which he pleaded not guilty to.

Justice Amobeda also threw out the preliminary objection of the prosecution, Dennis Tarhemba, a Deputy Superintendent of Police, challenging the jurisdiction of the court to hear the bail application.

The Judge held that, though the charges brought against Jalingo were capital in nature and were not bailable, the court had the power to exercise its discretion as the case may be  and grant bail when the defendant had adduced cogent reasons why bail be granted particularly on health grounds.

The judge said, “I am of the humble view that the applicant has failed to show through Form H, any exceptional circumstances as expected from the law for him to be granted bail on medical grounds and hereby agree with the prosecution that the applicant be denied bail.

“In the interest of justice, I hereby order for an accelerated hearing of the substantive suit.”

The prosecution, Mr Tarhemba had previously argued that Mr Jalingo’s lawyers led by a former Attorney General of Cross River State, Attah Ochinke, were caught on ‘Forum Shopping’, having filed motions for bail in two courts on the second and fourth day of September, 2019.

However, Ochinke had argued that their actions were in line with the rules of the court and the bail application before Justice Francisca Isoni of the High Court of Cross River State had since been dismissed.

On Friday, Mr Jalingo had arrived the court premises around 9:18am in high spirits when he alighted from a green colour van marked ‘Calabar Prisons’ in the company of four correction officers.

Jalingo, who wore a black T-shirt with the inscription ‘Journalism Is Not A Crime’, waved in return to his colleagues standing by who hailed him.

He was led into the courtroom in handcuffs alongside another inmate.

Jalingo publishes Cross River Watch online. He was arrested in Lagos and brought back to Calabar to face some allegations including a plot to overthrow the Cross River State Governor, Ben Ayade, and also using the malicious publication to instigate the people against the state government


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