By Jonathan Ugbal (Cross River Watch)
A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory and presided over by Justice Zainab Abubakar has admitted Nigerian Journalist and activist, Citizen Agba Jalingo after he was remanded on Monday for allegedly “insulting” Mrs. Elizabeth Alami Ayade, the sister-in-law to Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State.
Two charges bordering on false publication intended to cause, “annoyance, ill will and insult,” on the person of Mrs. Ayade, wife of Mr. Frank Ayade, were preferred on Citizen Jalingo in suit number FHC/ABJ/CR/565/2022.
He is alleged to have committed an offense punishable by Section 24 (1)b of the Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention, Etc) Act 2015.
Agba who had pleaded not guilty when arraigned on Monday, to the charges was remanded at the Medium Security Custodial Center Kuje in Abuja since then with rights groups and activists calling for his release after Justice Abubakar had refused the request of his defense counsel to move the motion for bail.
Moving the motion for bail, rights lawyer, Femi Falana, SAN, prayed the Court to admit the defendant to Court in liberal terms especially as the prosecution did not oppose the bail application by filing a Counter Affidavit.
On his part, the prosecution counsel, Fidelis Ogbobe Esq said they were not objecting to the bail application.
Justice Abubakar subsequently admitted him to bail with a bond of NGN 500,000 and one surety in like sum.
Justice Abubakar who said having perused through the application especially paragraphs 10 to 15, 17, and 18 of the affidavit in support of the motion, also said the surety must own a landed property within the jurisdiction of the Court of which the titled documents must be deposited with the Deputy Registrar in charge of litigations of the Courts. Furthermore, the surety must depose to an affidavit of means before the Deputy Registrar, litigations of the Court. Also, she ruled that Citizen Jalingo will remain remanded until his bail conditions are met.
In his response, Mr. Falana SAN commended the Court’s decision to admit Citizen Jalingo to bail as well as remanding him in one of the best prisons in the country.
The matter was adjourned until May 31, 2023, for trial.