After 174 days in detention, the publisher of CrossRiverWatch, Agba Jalingo has had his day in court winning the argument for a bail in the sum of N10 million.
He was first arraigned on August 22, 2019 after he published a story on how Governor Ben Ayade allegedly approved and diverted N500 million meant for the state’s microfinance bank.
Jalingo was charged with conspiracy, terrorism, treasonable felony and an attempt to topple the state government.
Justice Sule Shuaibu granted Jalingo bail after an application from his lawyer but ruled that those standing as surety for him would deposit of N700,000 to the court registry to perfect the bail.
Counsel to Agba Jalingo, Attah Ochinke Esq, in his motion, brought pursuant to Sections 35 and 36 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended, as well as Sections 158, 161, 162 and 165 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 urged the court to admit the defendant to bail relying on “his state of health as the special circumstance upon which the court may exercise its discretion.”
The prosecution counsel, Tanko Ashang did not oppose the bail application.
Ashang, the Attorney-General of Cross River State, said he was not opposing the bail application but asked the court to be guided by the provisions of Section 34 subsection 3(a) and subsection 5 of the Terrorism Prevention Amendment Act of 2013 which bars the discussion of court proceedings on trials relating to terrorism, as well as prescribes a five-year jail term on those found wanting.
Justice Shuaibu ordered that the proceedings of the court on the matter shall not be a matter of public discourse and subsequently adjourned the matter to April 6, 7 and 8 for the prosecution to open and close its case while other motions may be treated before that day.
Jalingo was earlier denied bail on two occasions by Justice Simon Amobeda who was caught in a leaked audio saying the journalist’s life was in his hands.
After the recording was made public, Jalingo asked the chief judge of the federal high court to reassign his case.
Amobeda later recused himself from the matter following allegations of lack of fair trial by the accused