By CrossRiverWatch Admin
Ahead of his appearance before Justice Sule Shuaibu of the Calabar Division of the Federal High court, Agba Jalingo, the Nigerian journalist and publisher of online news portal, CrossRiverWatch, facing trial for alleged acts of terrorism and cybercrime is currently distressed as he recalls the events of the past twelve days culminating to the fourth year since the demise of his mother, the late Monica Ungie-Ato Agba.
“I visited him (Agba Jalingo) earlier today and he tried several times to muster a smile to assure me he was in high spirits but he looked distressed,” a statement signed by the CrossRiverWatch’s managing editor, Jeremiah Archibong quoted it’s news editor, Jonathan Ugbal, as saying.
“Today marks four years since he lost his dear mother and twelve days since the demise of his younger brother, Philip Agba who passed away in the early hours of February 1, 2020.
“He told me that ‘Ungie-Ato will continue taking care of him (Philip).’ He said if there really is a life after earth, Philip will definitely continue enjoying their mother even though he felt she would be worried that he is incarcerated,” the statement read.
Ungie-Ato passed away on February 12, 2016 and was buried on March 18, 2016 – the 25th anniversary of the passing of her husband, the late Major S.S.A Agba rtd
(MON) who passed away on March 18, 1991.
“I recall that when the family broke the news of Philip’s passing to him, he kept making reference to how it was so close to the date of their mother’s passing. He has tried so hard to maintain the attitude he went in with, to be in high spirits; but, the past few days have left him really sad,” Jonathan was quoted as saying.
Meanwhile, Jalingo is billed to be docked before Justice Shuaibu who is the administrative judge of the Calabar division of the Federal High court tomorrow (Thursday) with speculation rife that he will take a fresh plea on the amended charges.
Jalingo who was listed at number 9 by the One Free Press Coalition in its October 2019 ranking of the 10 ‘Most Urgent’ cases of threat to press freedom across the world was arrested at his Lagos residence on August 22, 2019 despite repeated public commitments that he will honor a police invitation to answer to a petition against him bordering on an article he published in July 2019 wherein he demanded the whereabouts of the NGN500 million approved and released for the floating of the Cross River Microfinance bank by the state government.
He was driven to Calabar by road, a distance of over 766 kilometers – a journey family and colleagues said was a 25 hour tortuous trip.
Amnesty International in a press conference in Calabar on Thursday last week had declared that his trial is a “sham” and did not meet the basic standards.
Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River state has been fingered as the architect of his ordeal, an allegation he denied and accused Jalingo of blackmail. He however, retracted his allegation and claimed that he got his facts wrong.
Jalingo is currently detained at the Afokang prisons where he has spent 140 days so far after 34 days in Police custody which totals 174 days since his arrest.
He was denied bail twice by former trial Judge, Simon Amobeda who has since recused himself. His trial drew local and international condemnation after Justice Amobeda ordered that the witnesses set to testify against him will be masked and the trial done in secret.
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