Court grants detained Journalist, Agba Jalingo bail
Written by Samson Ojeniran on March 30, 2023
The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on Thursday, granted bail to a journalist and publisher of an online news outlet, CrossRiverWatch, Mr. Agba Jalingo, to the tune of N500, 000, with one surety in like sum.
Trial Justice Zainab Abubakar had last Monday, remanded Jalingo in prison after he was arraigned by the Nigerian Police Force, for allegedly publishing a story that was considered an insult to one Mrs. Elizabeth Ayade, who is the wife of the younger brother of Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State.
He was in the charge marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/565/2022, which bordered on alleged cybercrime, accused of publishing an article that disparaged Mrs. Ayade personality.
Jalingo, who is a frontline critic of governor Ayade’s administration, was specifically accused of engaging in false publication that was intended to cause annoyance, ill will and insult to the person of Mrs Ayade.
However, the defendant pleaded not guilty to the charge against him which is punishable under Section 24 (1) (b) of the Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention, Etc) Act 2015.
At the resumed proceedings in the matter on Thursday, the defendant, through his team of lawyers led by Mr. Femi Falana, SAN, applied to be released on bail pending the determination of the case against him.
Police lawyer, Mr. Fidelis Ogbobe did not oppose the application.
Consequently, aside from the N500, 000 bail bond, trial Justice Abubakar held that the surety must be an owner of a landed property within the the Federal Capital Territory.
The judge ordered that the title deed of the said property must be deposited with the Deputy Registrar in charge of litigations of the Courts.
Beside, the court held that the surety must also depose to an affidavit of means.
While adjourning the case till May 31 for trial, Justice Abubakar held that the defendant should remain in prison custody, pending the perfection of his bail conditions.
It will be recalled that the nominal complainant, Mrs. Ayade, had in 2022, asked Mr. Jalingo to retract an article which she considered offensive.
Jalingo had in the said article, queried why a suspended staff of the University of Calabar, Paschal Aboh, was facing trial for allegedly impersonating a student of the Nigerian Law School, Abuja campus identified as Mrs Ayade, while the person (Mrs Ayade) that allegedly contracted him, remained free.
Irked by the article, Mrs. Ayade, through her lawyer, demanded a retraction and an apology to be published in two national dailies and social media platforms, as well as the payment of N500million to her as damages.
Following Mrs Ayade’s petition, Police arrested Jalingo and later released him on administrative bail.