A Federal High court in Calabar, Cross River State, presided over by Justice Sule Shuaibu has admitted journalist and rights activist, Agba Jalingo to bail.
Justice Shuaibu sat over the case for the first time after taking over from Justice Simon Amobeda who rescuse himself from the case following condemnations that trailed refusals to grant the Journalist bail on three occasions.
In his ruling while granting bail applied by Agba Jalingo, Justice Shuaibu set the bail bond at N10 million with one surety in like sum.
According to ruling, the surety must be resident within the jurisdiction of the court and his address must be physically verified. Also, he must show means that he will be able to forfeit the bail bond, the Judge ruled.
Adding, “the surety is expected to deposit N700,000 cash with the registrar of the court who will then pay it into an interest yielding account with a commercial bank” while Jalingo must seek the permission of court to travel out of the country if he wants to travel.
“Agba Jalingo must deposed to an oath that he will be available in court while he and his surety must present two passport photographs.”
Justice Shuaibu ordered that the proceedings of the court on the matter shall not be a matter of public discourse and subsequently adjourned the matter to the 6th, 7th and 8th days of April 2020 for the prosecution to open and close its case while other motions may be treated before that day.
Agba Jalingo has spent 175 days in detention before bail was granted.
Counsel to Agba Jalingo, Attah Ochinke Esq, in his motion, brought pursuant to sections 35 and 36 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended as well as sections 158, 161, 162 and 165 of the administration of criminal justice act 2015 urged the court to admit the defendant to bail relying on “his state of health as the special circumstance upon which the court may exercise its discretion.”
Prosecution counsel, Tanko Ashang did not oppose the bail application from the defense.
Ashang who is the Attorney General of Cross River State said he was not opposing the bail application dated November 7, 2019 and filed on November 12, 2019, however asked the court to be guided by the provisions of Section 34 subsection 3(a) and subsection 5 of the terrorism prevention amendment act of 2013 which bars the discussion of court proceedings on trials relating to terrorism as well as prescribes a five year jail term on those found wanting.
The Cross River State government had last week taken over prosecution of the matter despite denying allegations that the Governor, Benedict Ayade was behind Jalingo’s ordeal.
The trial had drawn local and international attention with several individuals and organisations demanding his unconditional release.
Rights group, Amnesty International had in a recent press conference described the trial as a “sham” which fell short of regional and international standards especially after Justice Amobeda had ordered that the trial be held in secret and witnesses, masked while testifying against Jalingo.