Alleged defamation: Journalist Agba Jalingo granted bail

A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on Thursday, March 30, granted bail to detained journalist and Publisher of Cross River Watch Agba Jalingo.

Presiding judge Justice Zainab Bage Abubakar had on Monday, March 27, ordered that Jalingo be remanded till Thursday at the Kuje Prison in Abuja, following a case brought against him by a relative of the Cross River State governor.

Jalingo was accused of publishing an article against Elizabeth Frank Ayade, sister-in-law to Cross River State governor Ben Ayade, with the intention to insult and cause her ill will.

The judge also declined his lawyers’ request to move for bail on Monday. However, Jalingo, through his lawyers led by Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) Femi Falana, applied for bail on Thursday pending the determination of the case.

Conditions for Jalingo’s bail include a N500,000 bail bond and a surety who must own landed property within the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

The court ruled that the title of the deed for the land must be deposited with the Deputy Registrar in charge of litigation. The surety was also required to depose an affidavit of means.

The case was adjourned to May 31 for trial, and the judge ordered that Jalingo remain in prison custody pending the perfection of his bail conditions.

Jalingo was arrested in August 2022 by security operatives who laid siege to his Lagos residence for hours and transported him to Abuja thereafter.

    A petition by Elizabeth Ayade, claiming that Jalingo wrote a defamatory article about her, and demanding N500 million, led to the journalist’s arrest.

    He was, however, released on bail two days after.

    Jalingo had reported that a law lecturer at the University of Calabar, being tried by a court in Abuja for examination malpractice, had been writing exams for a “prominent Obudu woman”.

    Prior to this incident, the journalist has been detained several times, including in 2021, when officials of the Cross River State Police Command arrested him over a planned June 12 protest.

    Ijeoma Opara is a journalist with The ICIR. Reach her via [email protected] or @ije_le on Twitter.

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