After 174 days in detention, court grants Agba Jalingo bail

THE Federal High Court in Calabar has granted Agba Jalingo, a Nigerian journalist and publisher, bail to the tune of N10 million after he has spent 174 days in detention, both in the police cell and Calabar prison.

Presiding on the case, a Justice Sule Shuaibu of the Federal High Court, Calabar, on Thursday, granted the defendant bail after an application was put forward by his lawyer, Attah Ochinke, Premium Times reports.

In perfecting the bail, the court also asked that those standing as surety for the journalist should make a refundable deposit of N700,000 to the court registry.

Recall that Jalingo, the publisher of Cross River Watch was arrested on August 22, 2019, and charged with treason, over a report in which he alleged that the governor of the state, Ben Ayade, withdrew and diverted half a billion naira from the state coffers.

For criticising the governor, the journalist was then arrested and detained by the police. His case, however, was taken over and prosecuted by the Cross River state government.

Jalingo, on two separate occasions, since his arrest, was denied bail by Judge Simon Amobeda.

Amobeda, a Federal High Court judge, presided over the case until December when he recused himself following a leaked audiotape in which he was heard saying critical things about Jalingo and Adeyinka Olumide-Fusika, his counsel.

Over time, several groups have condemned the incarceration of Jalingo, describing it as a war against press freedom.

Some have criticised the governor, Ayade, and accused him of disregarding constitutional provisions that empowers the media to serve as a watchdog of the society.

The ICIR earlier reported the message of the Coalition for Whistleblowers Protection and Press Freedom (CWPPF) urging Ayade to respect the constitutional roles of journalists in the state and discontinue the prosecution of Jalingo.

Seun Durojaiye is a journalist with International Center for Investigative Reporting (ICIR).

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