The officers of the Nigerian Correctional Service has failed to produce detained journalist, Agba Jalingo, in court prompting the adjournment of the case.
Agba Jalingo, who was charged with terrorism and cybercrime, was billed to appear before Justice Simon Amobeda, who presides over Court 2 of the Calabar division of the Federal High Court after 55 days of no activity on his matter.
James Ibor, a lawyer in his defense team, explained to journalists that it was due to an administrative issue as his production warrant was not signed.
He said, “The court had earlier informed us that they are ready to hear our application today and we were in court for to be heard but unfortunately, being a criminal trial, Agba Jalingo was not produced. So, the Court has made an order that the prisons should produce him on Friday and with that order, I am very optimistic that Agba Jalingo will be produced on Friday for the purpose of taking our application.”
Justice Amobeda had in December granted the prayers of the defendant for the provision of an electronic verbatim recorder before also recusing himself.
But Ibor said that having waited for so long and the provision of the EVR not forthcoming, the defense had to file a motion to vary the order of Justice Amobeda.
He added, “We have applied to the court to vary its order for verbatim electronic recording. The reason is because the process of procuring those equipment, I think, will take a lot of time. The court has ordered that the Federal Government to provide the verbatim electronic devices to its court to enable them record proceedings verbatim.
But unfortunately, the process of procuring that or installing that may take a long time. I am not speaking for the Federal High Court but I am speculating that it is over a month since the order was made and it has not been provided and it may take quite a long time to do so knowing the way things work in this country.
So, we don’t want to wait. We are confident that the court will give us justice and that is why we want to make use of the longhand, archaic, backward, handwritten recording for now, pending when the Federal Government will do the needful.”
Also, a twist in the case showed that the Cross River State Government may take over the case by the next court date.
When asked to explain whether that was possible and the reason for it, Ibor averred that, “It will be difficult to answer for the Attorney-General of the Federation taking over the matter or the Attorney-General of Cross River State taking over the matter.
Constitutionally, it is their duty, it is their right to take over or discontinue any trial or prosecution anywhere in Nigeria. I am not in a better position to answer that.
The matter will not be transferred to a state High Court. They are federal offenses and the matter will remain in the Federal High Court and we are very optimistic we will get justice.