The trial of Agaba Jalingo, publisher of Cross River Watch, who was charged for treasonable felony, terrorism and attempt to topple the Cross River State government suffered another setback on Thursday.
Mr. Jalingo arrived the Court on Thursday at about 9:50am wearing a T-shirt with the inscription, “The Road To Freedom Passes Through A Jail Door.”
At the resumption of trial, prosecutor, Mr. Dennis Tarhemba asked the Court for short adjournment in order for him to file his written response to the issues raised by the defendants in their counter affidavit to his motion to amend the charges.
Consequently, Tarhemba, a Deputy Superintendent of Police told the Court in his opening statement that the process filed by the defendant was served on him less than an hour before the Court resumed sitting on the matter and sought for time to file his response.
The lead counsel to the defendant, Mr. Attah Ochinke, in his argument, posited that the prosecution was in the habit of serving his processes filed hours before the Court sat, which forced him to file his response this morning just as the presiding judge, Justice Simon Amobeda had ordered on Wednesday.
Justice Amobeda adjourned the matter to October 22nd and 23rd for commencement of trial at the instance of the prosecution.
Ochinke told newsmen after the adjournment that nothing really happened today.
He said, “you will recall that the prosecution had filed a motion to amend their charges and also to have the identities of their witnesses hidden.
“We are vehemently against the prosecutor’s motion for change of charges and seeking protection of witness. We have filed our reaction today and served them and he has taken an adjournment to react to join issues with us. It is their right. We will come back next week for the argument on the motion.”
Mr. Tarhemba could not be seen after the session.
However, he had on October 11, 2019, filed for the amendment of the charges and served the defendant on the 15th, hours before the Court sat on the 16th.
Also, he sought an order to protect the witnesses. But, Ochinke said nobody is being threatened.
“Nobody is being threatened. The defence don’t even have capacity to threaten anybody. We believe that there is sufficient force to protect all their witnesses. Nobody is being threatened,” Ochinke told newsmen.
Jalingo is to be remanded in Prisons custody till the next adjournment. He had already spent 22 days so far in prison. It would be recalled that Mr. Jalingo had in July written an article demanding the State government to explain the whereabouts of the NGN500 million approved and released for the floating of the Cross River Microfinance bank.
A month later, he was invited by the Cross River State Police command to answer to a petition bordering on his article. Initially scheduled for August 19, 2019, the interview was rescheduled to September 3, 2019.
However, he was arrested in his Lagos residence on August 22, 2019 and embarked on what colleagues have described as a “25 hour tortuous journey” by road to Calabar.
After 34 days in Police custody, he was arraigned for the hearing of his bail application on September 25, 2019 which Justice Amobeda in his October 4, 2019 ruling, held that there was no sufficient evidence to show that his health was failing.