The recent request by the Human Rights Monitoring Agenda (HURMA) for unconditional release of Comrade Agba Jalingo, has been partially granted by the court less than 72hrs after the request was made.
At a sitting presided over by Justice Sule Shuaibu at a Federal High court in Nigeria’s southern port city of Calaba, a bail bonds at 10 million with one surety in like sum was set.
The surety also expected to reside within the jurisdiction of the court and his address must be physically verified among other conditions.
HURMA had demanded at a press conference held at its Lagos Secretariat on Monday February 10, 2020, the unconditional release of Comrade Agba Jalingo.
Part of the statement presented to the media by the group Executive Director, Comrade Buna Olaitan Isiak, reads:
“We have equally strongly observed that root of various crises is the broad economic gap between the members of the ruling class and the ruled, the have and the have-not. The supposed people Representatives have turned into oppressors with a power they derived from our collective wealth. There is lack of transparency and accountability which is central to tenet of good governance. The rights to know as constitutionally guaranteed is denied citizens and whoever that insist is threatened by state instrument of coercion which include the police, DSS, Army etc and manipulation of Courts processes.
“One of our Comrades, Agba Jalingo is presently incarcerated for asking questions around accountability from his state governor in Cross Rivers State.
The affected state governor among others should be aware of implication of such alienation of the grassroots and youths from the political decision making processes. HURMA therefore call for the unconditional release of Comrade Agba Jalingo, Zakyzaky among others whose rights and freedom are being violated”.
Agba Jalingo now granted bail 175 days after his arrest on August 22, 2019 due to an article he wrote in July to question the Cross River State government about a half a billion naira release on a Microfinance project by the administration.
In the bail condition Jalingo also must depose to an oath that he would be available in court while he and his surety must present two passport photographs.
Justice Shuaibu ordered that the proceedings of the court on the matter shall not be a matter of public discourse.
He 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.
The trial had drawn local and international attention with several individuals and organisations demanding his unconditional release.
A Rights group, Amnesty International had also recently described the trial as a “sham” which fell short of regional and international standards especially after the former presiding Justice Amobeda had ordered that the trial be held in secret and witnesses, masked while testifying against Jalingo.