Nigerian court to rule on detained journalist, Agba Jalingo’s bail Friday

CrossRiverWatch publisher and journalist, Agba Jalingo. [PHOTO CREDIT: Crossriverwatch.com]
CrossRiverWatch publisher and journalist, Agba Jalingo. [PHOTO CREDIT: Crossriverwatch.com]

The Federal High Court, Calabar, will this Friday rule on a bail application by the incarcerated journalist, Agba Jalingo.

Mr Jalingo, the publisher of CrossRiverWatch, an online newspaper, with a focus on Cross River State, is in prison in Calabar. He is charged with treason, over a report about an alleged diversion of N500 million by the Cross River governor, Ben Ayade.

Arrested on August 22, he spent 34 days in police detention before he was arraigned on September 25.

The journalist appeared before Justice Simon Amobeda on Wednesday, with his lawyers pleading with the court to grant him bail.

The lead counsel, Attah Ochinke, a former attorney general in Cross River state, argued before the court that Mr Jalingo is determined to go through his trial and, therefore, would not jump bail. He also pleaded that the journalist should be admitted to bail on health ground.

The prosecution counsel, Dennis Tarhemba, opposed the bail application.

Mr Jalingo wore a black T-shirt with the inscription ‘Every Free Society Has A Journalist’. He appeared relaxed throughout the duration of the court proceedings.

The incarcerated journalist recently released some prison notes, urging the people of Cross River state to remain steadfast in the struggle against “dictatorship”.

He said in the notes that he is ready to go through his travails faithfully, with the belief that victory and glory await him in the end.

“One final assurance that I give to my people of Cross River, in particular, is that ‘we will overcome that dictator in Peregrino house’”, Mr Jalingo wrote.

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“Dictatorship has never defeated goodwill and a determined people. Even if I end up not standing with you in the summit, remain strong and be rest assured that the arc of life is on our side and we will win.

“When this wind has finished blowing yonder, and it shall soon; we will look back and be glad we stuck our necks on the guillotine and history will only be fair to us, our people shall be free, the will of God would have been done and God’s name will be glorified.”

Mr Jalingo said he has been in high spirit and in good health, and that he holds no grievance against those who have put him behind bars.

“Even with the tortuous and heavy burden I am being made to carry, for committing no offence, there is no bitterness in my heart against anyone, including those who have put me in jail. For if I allow myself to fall into bitterness, I am no better than my jailers.

“By the grace of God, I have gained serenity over the years and I am carrying this cross with equanimity because I am sure of my enduring values.

“I am aware that regardless of what may be taken away from me or what I may have been taken away from, including my freedom, my dear wife and my work, the real value in this life is buried within me, even in jail; and whether I experience transition, ill-health or any other problem of any nature, which the human being is capable of experiencing, I will remain steadfast and hold on to the will of the cosmic.

“My earnest prayer is not that my tribulations may cease, neither do I desire that they may be more smooth or more wide, but that some sweet fruit of good instruction may issue forth from the sharp thorns of my suffering, that I may suffer more patiently and be better able to offer up my suffering and adversity to the service of our people.”

The journalist thanked Nigerians who have been putting pressure on the government over his incarceration.

“Remain faithful in prayers and accept my greetings and peace profound,” he concluded.

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