Federal High Court in Calabar, the Cross River State capital, has admitted journalist and rights activist, Agba Jalingo, to bail.
Justice Sule Shuaibu took over the case from Justice Simon Amobeda, who rescued himself from the matter, following condemnations that trailed the refusal to grant Jalingo bail on three occasions.
Granting the bail, Justice Shuaibu set the bond at N10 million with one surety in like sum.
The bail stipulates that the surety must be resident within the jurisdiction of the court and his address must be physically verified. Also, he must show means that he would be able to forfeit the bail bond, the judge ruled.
He added: “The surety is expected to deposit N700,000 cash with the Registrar of the court, who will then pay it into an interest-yielding account with a commercial bank.”
Jalingo is to seek the permission of court to travel out of the country, if he need to leave the country.
“Agba Jalingo must depose to an oath that he will be available in court while he and his surety must present two passport photographs,” the judge said.
Justice Shuaibu ordered that the proceedings of the court on the matter shall not be a matter of public discourse and subsequently adjourned the matter to the 6th, 7th and 8th days of April 2020 for the prosecution to open and close its case while other motions may be treated before that day.
Agba Jalingo has spent 175 days in detention before bail was granted.
Jalingo’s lawyer Attah Ochinke brought a motion pursuant to sections 35 and 36 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, as amended, as well as sections 158, 161, 162 and 165 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015.
He urged the court to admit the defendant to bail, relying on “his state of health as the special circumstance upon which the court may exercise its discretion”.
Prosecution counsel Tanko Ashang did not oppose the bail application.
Ashang, the state’s Attorney General, said he was not opposing the bail application, dated November 7, 2019 and filed on November 12, 2019.
He prayed the court to consider the provisions of Section 34, subsection 3(a) and subsection 5 of the Terrorism Prevention Amendment Act of 2013, which bar the discussion of court proceedings on trials relating to terrorism as well as prescribe a five-year jail term on those found wanting.
The Cross River State government, last week, took over prosecution of the matter.