A High Court in Uyo, on Monday, reduced bail conditions for a sports reporter charged with defamation in Akwa Ibom State.
The reporter, Kufre Carter, was unable to meet the bail conditions set by a magistrate court. He had approached the high court, through his lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, seeking for a variation.
He has been in the custody of the State Security Service (SSS), Uyo, by the order of the magistrate court.
Mr Effiong told the high court that the N3 million bail and the demand that his client produce a surety who must be either a permanent secretary with the Akwa Ibom government or a civil servant of grade level 17, plus a letter from his village head attesting to his identity were “stringent”.
The Akwa Ibom State government, through its Attorney-General, Uwemedimo Nwoko, had opposed the application.
The court, presided by Justice Archibong Archibong, said the bail conditions set by the magistrate court were “stringent, excessive and unaffordable”.
It ruled that the journalist should be admitted to N200,000 bail and that he should provide a prominent indigene or a businessman within the jurisdiction of the court as a surety.
Mr Carter, who works as a sports reporter with a local radio station, XL 106.9 FM, Uyo, was arrested by the SSS on April 27 for “castigating” the Commissioner for Health in Akwa Ibom state, Dominic Ukpong, over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic in the state.
Before his arrest, the radio station issued a press statement disowning him.
The journalist denied the defamation charges when he appeared before the magistrate.
“It is a total and absolute victory not just because those conditions were set aside but because in setting aside those conditions the high court took time to explain the law. The court even agreed with us that no reason was given by the magistrate for imposing those conditions,” the journalist’s lawyer, Mr Effiong, said of the ruling by the high court.
“We are hoping to get him out in the next one or two hours.”
The attorney-general of Akwa Ibom State, Mr Nwoko, told PREMIUM TIMES the state government would appeal the ruling.