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Journalist remanded in prison for criticizing Cross River govt

A journalist, Agba Jalingo, from Cross River Watch, accused of terrorism, treacherous crime and an attempt to overthrow the Cross River State government was detained in Calabar.

Judge Simon Amobeda, Chief Justice of the Federal Superior Court, sitting in Calabar, said on Wednesday he had no time to examine the bail document.

He stated that the custody of the prosecution presented in response to the motion of the defendant’s lawyer was added to the file Wednesday morning and that he had not had time to examine it.

He said he examined the file Tuesday night and didn’t see the affidavit from the desk.

Attorney General Denis Terhemba, deputy police superintendent, said the sworn statement was filed on September 18, 2019, but Jalingo’s lawyer, Mr. Attah Ochinke said he was warned shortly before the court began to sit down.

However, after a brief discussion with the court clerk who whispered some words, Judge Amobeda ruled that Jalingo would be referred to Afokang prison in Calabar.

He referred the case to Thursday 26 September 2019.

Jalingo was arrested at his Lagos residence on August 22, 2019 and detained for 34 days before being tried.

He was invited by the Cross River state police command for a request that an article he wrote about the state-run microfinance bank negatively affect his business.

Jalingo, in the article, asked where were the N500 million approved and released by the Cross River state government for the bank’s buoyancy.

Reacting to the ruling of the court, Mr. Ochinke who described the charges as “sensational,” also averred “we have looked at the proof of evidence and we know that they have no base.

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“We had an application for him to be admitted in to bail, but because the counter affidavit was only brought to the attention of the Court today, the Court graciously granted us to come back tomorrow for the argument on the application of the bail.

“We hope that by tomorrow, the court will give a considered opinion on it and Agba will be admitted to bail.”

The prosecution counsel, Mr. Denis Terhemba, a Deputy Superintendent of Police said he was not at liberty to discuss the matter with the press

“The fact is that the matter as it is, is a matter that is before the Federal High Court 2 here in Calabar.

“The fact and whatever transpired in Court, I cannot reveal to you unless you go to the registrar of the Court, get the details from the registrar and he will give you exactly what transpired in Court,” Terhemba said.

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