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BREAKING: Court Dismisses Terrorism, Treasonable Felony Charges Against Nigerian Journalist Agba Jalingo (Details below)

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The defence team, led by Adeyinka Olumide-Fusika, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria did not object to the verbal application and commended the directive.

A Federal High Court sitting in Calabar has discharged Nigerian journalist and activist, Agba Jalingo in a criminal suit that alleged he committed acts of terrorism, treasonable felony and cybercrimes.

This followed the decision of the Cross River State Government to withdraw the charges it filed against him.

The state had taken over the prosecution from the Nigerian government in February 2020 when he was admitted to bail after spending 179 days in incarceration.

The Director of Public Prosecutions in the state, John Ogban, told the court at the resumed hearing that he received the directives of the Attorney General, Tanko Ashang to discontinue the case.

Ogban, who was slammed by the presiding judge, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu on Monday, at the last adjourned date, said they had filed a further amended charge before now, but made a verbal application for the withdrawal of the case.

When asked if he was withdrawing totally and would no longer prosecute the charge, Ogban answered in the affirmative.

The defence team, led by Adeyinka Olumide-Fusika, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria did not object to the verbal application and commended the directive.

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“We commend the Honorable Attorney General of the State for taking this decision. We are happy that our harassment has ended,” Olumide-Fusika, who was accompanied by F. Baba Isa and Kehole Enya, said.

He further prayed the court to release the sum paid as the bail bond into an interest yielding account of the defendant.

The matter was then stood down for the court to verify the payment date among other items.

And, upon resumption, Justice Ojukwu while relying on the provisions of section 355 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, acquitted the Jalingo, “on all four charges. Therefore, the charge is hereby dismissed.”

On the application for the refund, the court held that the sum and the interest should be paid to him.

This closes the case so far with the Nigerian and state governments failing to provide a single witness in the 30 months the trial lasted, despite an initial order to cover the faces of witnesses.

Jalingo was arrested on August 22, 2019, over an article published in July of that year wherein he demanded the whereabouts of the N500 million approved and released for the floating of the Cross River State Microfinance Bank by the state government.

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After 34 days in police custody, he was arraigned for alleged acts of terrorism, cultism, treasonable felony and attempts to overthrow the state government. He pleaded not guilty and was remanded at the Afokang prisons.

Denied bail twice by Justice Simon Amobeda who was presiding over Court 2 of the division, he was eventually admitted to bail by Justice Sule Shuaibu who presided over Court 1 after Justice Amobeda recused himself following the leak of an audiotape which suggested he had compromised.

The charges preferred against him were amended several times during the trial and he took four pleas within the duration of the trial twice under Justice Amobeda, once under Justice Shuiabu and once under Justice Ojukwu.

The case has received widespread criticism with Amnesty International declaring Jalingo alongside SaharaReporters founder, Sowore and Olawale Bakare as prisoners of conscience while the #OneFreePress coalition named him among the 10 most urgent cases of threats to press freedom in the world in 2019.

The ECOWAS Court awarded N30 million against the Nigerian government for the inhuman treatment meted on him by the police earlier this year.

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