Justice Zainab Abubakar of the Federal High Court Abuja has remanded a journalist and publisher of an online medium, Cross River Watch, Agba Jalingo, at the Kuje Correctional Center for allegedly publishing an article that was deemed ‘insulting’ to Mrs Elizabeth Ayade, wife to the younger brother of the Cross River State Governor, Ben Ayade.
Jalingo was arraigned on a two counts bordering on alleged false publication intended to cause annoyance, ill will and insult to the person of Mrs Ayade, wife to Mr Frank Ayade.
He is alleged to have committed the offence punishable by Section 24 (1)b of the Cybercrimes Prohibition, Prevention, Act 2015.
He pleaded not guilty to both charges.
The prosecution counsel, Fidelis Ogbobe, thereafter sought an adjournment for trial which the defense counsel, Baba Isa, did not oppose but pleaded that the matter be stood down as the lead counsel, Marshal Abubakar, was on his way.
However, Ogbobe opposed Isa’s application, citing Section 354 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 which stipulates that when parties are called, the court shall proceed to hear the matter.
He argued that, the excuse was a calculated attempt to postpone the arraignment and asked the court not to take the defence seriously.
However, Justice Abubakar indulged the prosecution counsel, and did not grant Isa’s application.
The arrival of Mister Marshall Abubakar did not stop the trial Judge from noting that in he was absent in court her records and also declined the defense’ request to move the motion for bail.
While adjourning the case to March 30 for hearing of the bail application and May 31 for trial, Justice Zainab Abubakar subsequently ordered that Jalingo be remanded at the Kuje Custodial Centre.
Mrs Elizabeth Ayade who was also in court, had through her counsel, Uyi Obayagbona, written to Mr Jalingo, seeking a retraction of an article that queried why a suspended staff of the University of Calabar, Paschal Aboh, was facing trial for allegedly impersonating a student of the Nigerian Law School, Abuja campus (Mrs Ayade), while the person (Mrs Ayade) who allegedly contracted him walks free.
Mrs Ayade had demanded that an apology be published in two national dailies, including the social media as well as a payment of N500 million in damages.
Jalingo was given a 14-day ultimatum to comply, or legal proceedings will be instituted against him. However, police operatives from the FCT Command on August 19, 2022, stormed Jalingo’s Ogudu residence in Lagos State and arrested him.
He was subsequently detained at the Alapere police station and later at Area F Command in Ikeja before he was flown to Abuja.