AGBA JALINGO’s lead counsel, Adeyinka Olumide-Fusika, SAN, has described the comments made by the presiding Federal High Court judge, Simon Amobeda, in a leaked tape as incorrect “if not fictional”.
Jalingo, the Publisher of CrossRiverWatch was charged in August by the Nigeria Police with treason and disturbance of public peace over a publication critical of the Cross River State government.
In an audio recording leaked to the press the previous week, Amobeda alleged that Olumide-Fusika attempted to bring down the court and was noisy two out of three times he appeared before him. He also suggested that the lawyer’s “antecedent” of shouting at judges is why he was denied the Senior Advocate title for 35 years.
Jalingo filed a notice of motion on Wednesday, November 13, requesting for the introduction of an electronic recording system for the trial, which has been ruled to proceed “in camera” and with hidden witness identities.
In an affidavit filed on Tuesday in support of the notice by Olumide-Fusika, he gave his version of the events that took place during the trial on November 12, stressing that he did not stage a walkout.
“To the best of my own knowledge and recollection, after delivering his ruling, His Lordship followed up with a pronouncement standing down the case to 12:00 pm. As I had no other business before the court that morning, I respectfully (in the full glare of everybody in the courtroom) took my bow and exited the courtroom with other members of my defence team,” he narrated.
“I dispute anything said or any impression given to the contrary in any record of the court, especially by the statement allegedly made by His Lordship in the leaked audio.”
He added that he is confident CCTV footage from the proceedings and records taken on the day by independent observers would contradict the judge’s claim.
“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.
“I further say that all His Lordship represented as happening before him on the three occasions that I had led the defence team, and especially on Tuesday, the 12th day of November 2019, is inaccurate, if not fictional.”
Olumide-Fusika said he has only argued two applications before Amobeda, one oral, the other written.
He also described as untrue allegations that he shouted at the court.
“It was not a secret session. It was in a jam-packed courtroom with persons other than His Lordship and myself in attendance,” he noted.
“There are in existence several independent reports of what transpired, and especially of the words I uttered and the tone with which I uttered them … None of these independent accounts of my utterances and/or how the tone with which I addressed the court reported me as saying, ‘Waoh! Waoh! Waoh!’ or that I did so or otherwise addressed the court ‘shouting at the top of’ my voice.”
He concluded: “I note the investigatory discovery allegedly made by His Lordship that I was ‘denied’ the SAN title for ’35 years’. Whether or not I deserve the denial is not an element of the offences for which the Defendant stands charged before His Lordship in this case.”