Again, Agba Jalingo’s trial stalls in Calabar
The secret trial of a Nigerian journalist and human rights activist, Agba Jalingo, who has been charged for treason, has again, been stalled in Calabar, Cross River State amid heavy security presence.
Defense counsel had on Wednesday asked for a short date to respond to points of law to three counter affidavits filed by the prosecuting counsel, Dennis Tarhemba.
Earlier the defense counsel had filed two applications for bail and for the provision of a verbatim recorder on November 13 and both were served on the prosecution in Court on November 14.
However, the lead counsel for the defense, Kehole Enya, told the presiding judge, Justice Simon Amobeda that the counter affidavits filed by the prosecution on November 22, 2019 were only served on the defense shortly before the Court sat.
Enya said there was also a third counter affidavit responding to a further affidavit for the lead counsel to the defendant, Adeyinka Olumide-Fusika (SAN).
But Tarhemba accused the defense team of evading service and asked the court to award costs of transportation amounting to N100,000 against the defense team.
He further submitted that two lead counsel, who are deponents of affidavits sworn before the court, were absent without notification and asked the court to ensure that does not occur again.
However, Enya objected to the argument, describing Tarhemba’s submission that they were evading service as preposterous.
“Counsel have chambers and as such delayed service is actually a deliberate action by the prosecution, as I was calledd from the office that they were there to serve us the processes, while I was in Court,” Enya argued.
He further submitted that if they had evaded service, the court’s bailiff would have deposed to an affidavit to that effect, adding that the law permitted the defense to respond to points of law.
On cost, he argued that the defendant was ‘not in default’ of any known rule and asked the court to discountenance the submissions of the prosecution.
In his ruling, Justice Amobeda held that the matter was a criminal trial, which in the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), enjoys the opportunity of going on a “day-to-day trial.”
He also held that the defense was entitled by law to respond to the counter affidavit filed by the prosecution on points of law.
Furthermore, he ruled that there was no record of a bailiff showing that the defense has evaded service and adjourned the matter until December 2, 2019 for hearing of the motions and continuation of trial.
Jalingo, who alongside Olawale Bakare and Omoyele Sowore have been declared prisoners of conscience by Amnesty International (AI) had in July published an article where he demanded the whereabouts of the NGN500 million approved and released by the Cross River State government for the floating of the state’s Microfinance Bank.
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