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Agba Jalingo’s judge withdraws from trial due to negative media attention
SIMON Amobeda, the judge presiding over the trial of Agba Jalingo, a journalist who was in August charged with treason following a publication critical of the Cross River State governor, Ben Ayade has recused himself from the case.
At the Wednesday sitting of the Federal High Court in Calabar, Rivers State capital, the judge announced he would be transferring the case file to the division’s administrative judge, Justice Sule Shuaibu, due to the negative attention his involvement is attracting from the media.
The judge also granted the application of Jalingo’s counsel seeking for the proceedings to be recorded electronically and word-for-word, independent of the conventional manual record-keeping system.
He, however, reacted to claims contained in the affidavits attached to the Jalingo’s notice of motion and described them as “false, unfounded and misguided”. He also called them erroneous and “a fiction of the imagination of the deponent”.
Amobeda accused the defence of resorting to “cheap media blackmail” and “baseless accusations” despite not having asked for the court’s record of proceedings.
In a leaked audio recording of Amobeda, while he was addressing a group of lawyers earlier in November, he had denied conniving with the prosecution and repeatedly emphasised that he will not subvert the course of justice. He also accused Jalingo’s lead counsel, Adeyinka Olumide-Fusika, of disturbing the peace of his court.
Responding to the Amobeda’s comments in the tape, Olumide-Fusika described his claims as fictional and denied walking out on the court.
“I say with all emphasis at my disposal that what His Lordship represented of me behind my back to his jury of unidentified persons is not correct,” the Senior Advocate said.