Trial of journalist over treason charges begins today
The trial of Nigerian rights activist and journalist, Agba Jalingo, over treason charges will begin today at the Federal High Court, Calabar, Cross River State.
Jalingo was charged with treasonable felony, terrorism and attempt to topple the Cross River State government.He has been a staunch critic of the Governor Ben Ayade government and had challenged him to give account of huge amounts of money that have accrued to the state and how the funds were spent.
However, Jalingo was arrested in his Lagos residence on August 22, 2019 and taken to Calabar by road where he was detained at the Cultural Centre facility used by anti-kidnap police squad.
The state government has been accused of being behind Jalingo’s arrest and trial even on issues outside those for which he had accused the government.Reports of his ill health had sparked outrage and he was eventually arraigned at the Federal High Court 2 in Calabar after 34 days in custody on September 25, 2019 for the pre-trial hearing of his bail application. He was brought to court on handcuffs.
The presiding judge, Justice Simon Amobeda, after two court dates on September 26 and October 2, 2019, rejected the motion to admit him to bail on October 4, 2019.In his ruling, Justice Amobeda said Jalingo’s lawyers had failed to provide sufficient evidence on his failing health and was remanded in prison custody where he has spent another 20 days since September 25.Justice Amobeda had dismissed the preliminary objection filed by the prosecution to challenge the court’s jurisdiction to hear Jalingo’s bail application and ordered accelerated hearing on October 16 and 17, 2019.
Consequently, mixed reactions have continued to trail Jalingo’s arrest and incarceration as several groups have accused the state government of masterminding his travails, an allegation, the state has continually denied.Jalingo had in an article published in July queried the whereabouts of the N500 million allegedly released for floating the Cross River Microfinance Bank.
The state police command, had in a letter dated August 14, 2019, titled, “Conspiracy To Cause Breach Of Public Peace,” and signed by Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of the State Criminal Investigation Department, Mrs. Tami Peterside, invited Jalingo to report on August 19, 2019 for a brief on the said publication.
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