Simon Amobeda, a Federal High Court judge in Calabar, Cross River State, has told journalist, Agba Jalingo, that his life is in the hands of the court.
Jalingo, publisher of CrossRiverWatch, is facing trial for alleged disturbance of public peace and treason for a write-up and social media posts about the state governor, Benedict Ayade.
When he appeared in court on Wednesday, Amobeda recounted what transpired during Jalingo’s trial on the previous day.
“I told the young man (Jalingo) yesterday, your life now is in the hands of the court,” the judge said.
The judge claimed that Adeyinka Olumide-Fusika, Jalingo’s lawyer and a senior advocate, had not behaved well since the trial began.
“In the three times he appeared before the court, the first time he was to bring down the court, the second time he was gentle, the third time yesterday he was shouting on top of his voice. I refuse to be intimidated,” Amobeda also said.
The judge said the trial will continue whether the defence counsel chooses to withdraw or not.
Making reference to the case of Ken Saro-Wiwa, the judge said: “Late Gani Fawehinmi walked out on the tribunal in Ogoni matter. What happened? The matter went on and Ken Saro-Wiwa was convicted and sentenced to death.”
He also said the defence counsel accused him of conniving with the prosecution, adding that he received a letter of threat recently with the name and address of the writer included.
Jalingo was arrested after he published a report on how Ayade allegedly approved and diverted N500 million meant for the state Microfinance bank.
He is standing trial on charges bordering on conspiracy, terrorism, treasonable felony and attempt to topple the Cross River State government.
According to the judge, Jalingo’s criminal case has a death penalty attached to it.
When the trial resumed on Tuesday, Olumide-Fusika argued an application, challenging the earlier order of the court of October 23, 2019, which granted leave to the prosecution to mask its witnesses.
However, the judge said issues arising from the previous ruling should be appealed at the appellate court.
Journalists, friends, family and Jalingo’s supporters were reportedly sent out of the courtroom at the commencement of the trial.