Again, Cross River Government Stalls Agba Jalingo’s Terrorism, Treasonable Felony Trial

In Breaking News, Civic Space, Crime, International News

By Jonathan Ugbal

The Cross River State Government has written to the Calabar Division of the Federal High Court to adjourn the trial of Nigerian journalist and rights activist, Agba Jalingo to a date in October.

Mr. Jalingo risks a death sentence or at best, a life sentence if convicted for any of the four charges preferred against him ranging from terrorism to treasonable felony, cultism and attempts to topple the government over an article he published on CrossRiverWatch in July 2019 demanding the whereabouts of the NGN500 million approved and released for the floating of the Cross River Microfinance Bank.

Upon arriving Court on Monday for the accelerated hearing before Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu, friends and family members of Mr. Jalingo were disappointed to learn that the Director of Public Prosecution in the State Felix Ititim Esq had written the court that he will be “unavoidably absent.”

“I shall be attending UNODC Workshop for Development of Wildlife Crime Rapid Reference Guide and Charging Standards for Prosecutors, from 27th-29th July, 2021. The departure date and check in is Monday, 26th July, 2021,” read in part, Mr. Ititim’s letter dated July 23, 2021 and addressed to the Registrar of the Court.

Mr. Jalingo is yet to appear in Court 15 months after he was admitted to bail by Justice Sule Shuaibu on February 13, 2020. The COVID-19 lockdowns, unavailability of the prosecution counsels and the recent strike by Judiciary staff.

And, Mr. Ititim asked the Registrar to, “bring this information to the attention of His Lordship and cause the matters to be adjourned to the 6th and 7th October, 2021 or 18th, 19th and 20th October, 2021.”

This means that Mr. Jalingo would have gone at least 601 days without appearing in Court.

The case in suit number FHC/CA/59C/2019 generated controversy after the first trial Judge, Justice Simon Amobeda ordered a secret trial and that the witnesses be masked which led the #OneFreePressCoalition to list the case as one of the 10 most urgent cases of threats to press freedom shortly after Jalingo, alongside fellow journalist and rights activists Omoyele Sowore and Olawale Bakare were declared prisoners of conscience.

It will be recalled that the ECOWAS Court recently awarded NGN30 million against the Federal Government for the treatment meted out on Mr. Jalingo after his arrest at his Lagos residence on August 22, 2019.

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One commentOn Again, Cross River Government Stalls Agba Jalingo’s Terrorism, Treasonable Felony Trial

  • The first sentence in the second paragraph of the letter by F. I. Ititim is grammatically wrong.

    CrossRiverWatch quoted the sentence wrong in paragraph three of the article. The correct quotation that ended paragraph three should have been “…. he will be “unavoidable (SIC) absent.”

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