Cross River government indicates interest to take over case of incarcerated journalist, Agba Jalingo

The Cross River State Government has indicated interest to take over Agba Jalingo’s matter.

The State Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Greg Okem revealed this while addressing the Justice of the Federal High Court, Justice Simon Amobeda on Wednesday in Calabar.

Okem told Justice Amobeda that he was under the instruction of the Attorney General of the Federation to take over the matter.

Justice Amobeda however, adjourned the case between Federal Government and Agba Jalingo to Friday, February 7th 2020 to enable the prison’s authority produce the suspect.

SamsKoncept gathered that failure of the Nigerian Prisons Service to produce Agba Jalingo charged with terrorism and cybercrime in a case no FHC/CA/59C/2019 was what stalled the proceeding of the matter on Wednesday.

Jalingo was billed to appear before Justice Simon Amobeda who presides over federal high court 2 of the Calabar division of the Court after 55 days of no activity on his matter.

But friends, associates, colleagues and well-wishers were left disappointed as they kept hearing that the matter was shifted off record until Friday due to his absence.

A lawyer in Jalingo’s defense team, James Ibor explained to journalists that it was due to an administrative issue as his production warrant was not signed.

“The court had earlier notified us that they were ready to hear our application today, and we were in court for the court to hear us but unfortunately, being a criminal trial, Agba Jalingo was not produced.

“So, the Court has made an order that the prisons should produce him on Friday and with that order, I am very optimistic that Agba Jalingo will be produced on Friday for the purpose of taking our application,” Ibor explained.

Justice Amobeda had in December granted the prayers of the defendant for the provision of an Electronic Verbatim Recorder (EVR).

But, Ibor said that having waited for so long and the provision of the EVR was not forthcoming, the defense had to file a motion to vary the order of Justice Amobeda.

“We have applied to the court to vary its order for verbatim electronic recording. The reason is because the process of procuring that equipment, I think, will take a lot of time.

“The Court has ordered that the federal government provide the verbatim electronic devices to its court to enable them record proceedings verbatim.

“But, unfortunately, the process of procuring that or installing that may take a long time. I am not speaking for the Federal High Court but I am speculating that it is over a month since the order was made and it has not been provided and it may take quite a long time to do so knowing the way things work in this country.

“So, we don’t want to wait. We are confident that the court will give us justice and that is why we want to make use of the longhand, archaic, backward, handwritten recording for now, pending when the federal government will do the needful,” he said.

Also, a twist in the case showed that the Cross River State government may take over the case by the next court date.

And, when asked to explain whether that was possible and the reason for it, Ibor averred that: “It will be difficult to answer for the Attorney General of the federation taking over the matter or the Attorney General of Cross River State.

“Constitutionally, it is their duty, it is their right to take over or discontinue any trial or prosecution anywhere in Nigeria. I am not in a better position to answer that.”

Furthermore, he said the notion that the matter may be taken to the High Court of Cross River State should be discountenanced. “The matter will not be transferred to a State High Court. They are federal offences and the matter will remain in the Federal High Court, and we are very optimistic we will get justice.”

Jalingo risks a death sentence if convicted and there have been concerns about his right to fair hearing after Justice Amobeda had granted an order to mask the prosecution witnesses and for them to testify in secret with the public barred from witnessing proceedings.


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