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Court denies incarcerated journalist, Agba Jalingo bail, adjourns treason trial for October 16

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THE Federal High Court sitting in Calabar on Friday denied bail to the detained journalist, Agba Jalingo stating there was no substantial evidence to show that his health was failing to necessitate his bail.

Attah Ochinke, the lead counsel to the defendant, had pleaded with the court to grant his client bail on grounds that he was willing to see the trial through. He also pleaded that the journalist should be admitted to bail on health ground.

The prosecution counsel, Dennis Tarhemba, had countered the bail application.

Justice Simon Amobeda, the presiding judge ruled that the charges against Jalingo were serious which also carried capital punishment before dismissing the bail application for lack of merit.

Jalingo, the publisher of CrossRiverWatch, an online newspaper, with a focus on Cross River State, was arrested on August, 22, but was incarcerated for 34 days in police detention before he was arraigned on September 25.

The journalist, whose arrest and the trial have attracted outrage from human rights groups across Nigeria, arrived at the court premises in handcuffs.

He was charged with treason over his report about an alleged diversion of N500 million by the Cross River governor, Ben Ayade.

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The incarcerated journalist recently released some prison notes, urging the people of Cross River state to remain steadfast in the struggle against “dictatorship”.

He said in the notes that he is ready to go through his travails faithfully, with the belief that victory and glory await him in the end.

“One final assurance that I give to my people of Cross River, in particular, is that ‘we will overcome that dictator in Peregrino House.

“Dictatorship has never defeated goodwill and a determined people. Even if I end up not standing with you in the summit, remain strong and be rest assured that the arc of life is on our side and we will win,” a section of the note reads.

However,  Justice Simon adjourned the case to Wednesday, October 16 for the start of his trial for treason.

 

Amos Abba is a journalist with the International Center for Investigative Reporting, ICIR, who believes that courageous investigative reporting is the key to social justice and accountability in the society.

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