Agba Jalingo, detained Nigerian journalist, will on Thursday appear before a new judge after Justice Simon Amobeda recused himself twice from the case.
The new judge, Justice Sule Shuaibu, is the administrative judge of the Calabar division of the Federal High Court.
Jalingo has been incarcerated for 172 days for alleged acts of terrorism and cybercrime following an article he wrote in July 2019 seeking accountability for N500bn alleged to have been diverted by the Cross River State Government.
He has been denied bail twice while Justice Amobeda had ordered a secret trial, a ruling which drew condemnation from local, national and international pressure groups.
Jalingo, who risks a death sentence if convicted, is expected to take a fresh plea on the four-count charges preferred against him while sources say his counsel hope to move a motion for bail on the same day.
Family members say they are worried if a warrant to produce him has been signed especially after his last appearance before Justice Amobeda was delayed by 48 hours due to the failure of the judges to sign the document.
Meanwhile, a lawyer in his defense team, Daniel Kip, had while addressing journalists in Calabar after an Amnesty International event on human rights, berated the Cross River State Government for denying claims that it was behind Jalingo’s ordeal.
Kip said, “There is no way anybody can run away from the fact that Agba Jalingo’s ordeal is strictly tied to Cross River State and not the Federal Government.
“The amendment that was done subsequently to the charge to make it Federal Republic of Nigeria against Agba Jalingo was just to escape that impression which was glaring. It was to make it seem that it was the Federal Government that was prosecuting Agba Jalingo.
“If it was the Federal Government that was prosecuting Agba Jalingo, why wasn’t the Attorney-General of the Federation prosecuting him? Why were legal officers from the office of the Inspector-General of Police not prosecuting him? It is an irrefutable fact that the government of Cross River State is involved in Agba Jalingo’s ordeal.”
The Cross River State Government has also officially took over the prosecution from the police with the Attorney General, Tanko Ashang, announcing appearance on Friday.
He told the court that a letter to that effect had been filed and was in the court’s record.