By Jonathan Ugbal
Nigerian Journalist and rights activist, Citizen Agba Jalingo has regained freedom one week after he was remanded at the Medium Security Custodial Center Kuje, Abuja by Justice Zainab Abubakar of the Abuja division of the Federal High Court for alleged acts of cybercrime.
Citizen Jalingo was docked last week Monday on charges bordering on false publication intended to cause, “annoyance, ill will and insult,” on the person of Mrs. Ayade, wife of Mr. Frank Ayade, who is the younger brother of Cross River Governor, Sen. Ben Ayade.
He is alleged to have committed offenses punishable by Section 24 (1)b of the Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention, Etc) Act 2015, Court documents in suit number FHC/ABJ/CR/565/2022 show.
Agba who had pleaded not guilty when arraigned on Monday, was remanded but later admitted to bail on Thursday, March 31, 2023. However, he failed to perfect the conditions on time on Friday, leading to his extended stay in custody.
On Monday, his release warrant was signed and served on the correctional authorities who released him.
Mrs. Ayade had in July 2022, through her lawyer, Uyi Frank Obayagbona Esq. had written to Mr. Jalingo seeking a retraction of an article that queried why a suspended staff of the University of Calabar, Paschal Aboh Esq was facing trial for impersonating a student of the Nigerian Law School, Abuja campus while the person who allegedly contracted him (Mrs. Ayade) was walking free.
She asked for an apology to be published in two national dailies, including, but not limited to Facebook, Instagram, and Cross River Watch (not CrossRiverWatch) as well as NGN 500 million in damages. He was given fourteen days to comply otherwise legal proceedings will be instituted against him.
However, Police from the FCT Command on August 19, 2022, stormed the Ogudu, in Lagos State residence of Citizen Jalingo, and arrested him, several hours after holding his wife and daughter hostage.
He was subsequently detained at the Alapere police station and later, at Area F Command in Ikeja before he was flown to Abuja the next day where it was revealed that Mrs. Ayade had abandoned the civil approach and rather petitioned him for allegedly defaming her character.
He was released later that night and when asked to return two days later on August 22nd, was asked to go back to Lagos since Mrs. Ayade failed to show up.
But, news filtered in, in January 2023, that the Police abandoned the criminal defamation case and opted to sue Citizen Jalingo for alleged cyber crimes.
Also, civil proceedings secretly filed in September 2022 at the High Court of the FCT, were served via substituted means at the gate of Hit 95.9 FM Calabar where Mr. Jalingo is not a staff.