Agba Jalingo: Cross River takes over trial of journalist

Agba Jalingo charged for criticising Ben Ayade

The Cross River State Government has taken over the prosecution of a journalist, Agba Jalingo, who is facing trial for alleged treason.

The state’s attorney general, Tanko Ashang, informed Justice Simon Amobeda of the Federal High Court in Calabar on Friday that the state has taken over the case.

Cross River State Governor, Ben Ayade, had told journalists in January at the presidential villa, Abuja, after meeting President Muhammadu Buhari, that Mr Jalingo was being tried for treason and that the matter was between the journalist and the Federal Government.

Jalingo, publisher of CrossRiverWatch, has been in prison since his arrest on August 22, 2019. He was denied bail twice.

Jalingo published a report alleging that Mr Ayade diverted N500 million from the state’s treasury.

Despite recusing himself from the case, the matter was returned to Justice Amobeda.

At the resumed hearing on Friday, counsel to the defendant, Attah Ochinke, moved a motion to vacate an order of the court which paused all proceedings until an electronic verbatim recorder is provided.

In his ruling, Justice Amobeda who held that the prayers of the defendant were vague, however, granted the prayers of the defence and recused himself for the second time.

He referred the matter back to the administrative judge of the division, Justice Sule Shuaibu, who had sent it back to him to entertain the motion filed by the defendant.