Detained Journalist, Agba Jalingo, Seeks Modification Of Order Given To Mask Witnesses

Lawyers representing Agba Jalingo have filed an application seeking to modify the order of the court, which granted leave to the prosecution to mask its witnesses.

Justice Simon Amobeda of the Federal High Court, Calabar, Cross River State, had on October 23 granted the request of the Nigerian Government allowing it to hide the identities of the seven witnesses listed to testify against Jalingo.

Adeyinka Olumide-Fusika (SAN), counsel to Jalingo, said that the defense was relying on the ruling of the court, which said the terms can be modified from time to time.

In his argument, Olumide-Fusika submitted that, “In making that pronouncement, the proof of evidence which is before your lordship shows that the identities and location of witnesses number 1 to 6 are incapable of being hidden considering that they are materials already on the proof of evidence.”

Continuing, he said the allegation that someone threatened should not have been heard as there was no way a witness not known to the defense could have been threatened.

The prosecution had claimed that a witness was threatened on August 28, 2019; six days into the detention of Jalingo but the charges were filed on August 30, a situation Olumide-Fusika argued was not possible.

However, the prosecution counsel, Dennis Tarhemba, objected to the application relying on section 232 subsection 2 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act.

He challenged the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the application.

He urged the court to dismiss the application of the defendant as well as award an N100,000 as cost of transportation for the seven witnesses, who were in court as the prosecution was ready to proceed.

However, Olumide-Fusika quickly objected, pointing out that the counsel to the prosecution had said only two witnesses were in court when the matter was called and appearances announced.

He wondered why the list suddenly increased to seven.

In his ruling, Justice Amobeda adjourned to November 12 and 21, 2019 for ruling on the application and continuation of trial.


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